Letter from the Coalition for International Education Concerning Title VI and Fulbright-Hays Funding

The American Historical Association has signed on to a letter from the Coalition for International Education urging Congress to reject the Administration's proposal to eliminate funding for HEA-Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs.

Download the Letter as a PDF

March 12, 2018

The Honorable Rodney Frelinghuysen, Chairman
The Honorable Nita M. Lowey, Ranking Member
Committee on Appropriations
United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Thad Cochran, Chairman
The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Vice Chairman
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate

The Honorable Tom Cole, Chairman
The Honorable Rosa DeLauro, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services, Education and Related Agencies
United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Roy Blunt, Chairman
The Honorable Patty Murray, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services, Education and Related Agencies
United States Senate

Dear House and Senate Appropriations Committee Leadership,

As you finalize the FY 2018 appropriations and begin consideration of FY 2019 for the various programs within the purview of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee, the undersigned organizations urge rejection of the Administration’s proposal to eliminate funding for the U.S. Department of Education’s International Education and Foreign Language Studies Programs (HEA-Title VI and Fulbright-Hays). Although representing just 0.1% of the Department of Education’s discretionary budget, these bipartisan programs are vital to maintaining and strengthening our ability for successful global engagement, and should be preserved and funded robustly.

As we have communicated earlier, for FY 2018 we urge adoption of the Senate bill’s provisions for International Education and Foreign Language Studies. Specifically, we support $72.2 million, including $65.1 million for HEA-Title VI and $7.1 million for Fulbright-Hays, the same levels as FY 2017. We greatly appreciate that the comparable House bill also would provide $65.1 million for Title VI, but it unfortunately eliminates funding for the Fulbright-Hays overseas programs. Implemented as an essential overseas complement to the U.S.-based Title VI programs, the Department of Education’s Fulbright-Hays programs play a key domestic role with specific education goals and emphases that are distinct from the Department of State’s Fulbright programs.

For FY 2019, we urge support for $78.5 million, an increase of $6.5 million in funding over the FY 2017 level, including $70.5 million for Title VI and $8 million for Fulbright-Hays. These programs sustained a 43% reduction since FY 2011 due to severe budget limitations, and have not kept pace with inflation. The recent agreement to raise the overall funding caps for FY 2018 and FY 2019 provides your committees with an opportunity to address the longstanding need to begin restoring the programs to their FY 2010 levels.

The Administration states, “Federal agencies whose primary mission is national security are more appropriately equipped to support these activities,” and that the U.S. Department of Education’s programs duplicate such efforts. We strongly disagree and believe that at this time in our nation’s history, the Department of Education’s role in advancing international education should be enhanced.

The nation’s security, its economic growth, and its success in confronting global challenges hinge on our ability to engage with diverse cultures at home and around the globe. While well-documented demands for the international skills and knowledge these programs produce are growing by the day across employment sectors, our educational institutions must be better prepared to meet the challenge. A 2017 Congressionally requested Report of the AAAS Commission on Language Learning in the U.S. recommended an increase in funding for Title VI and Fulbright-Hays to support a 21st century education strategy that “promotes broad access, values international competencies, and nurtures deep expertise in world languages and cultures.”

As the foundation for internationalizing U.S. higher education, this federal/university partnership ensures our nation’s educational capacity and deep knowledge about all world regions, international business, and over 200 foreign languages, and at all levels of education. Without these programs, the steady supply of experts on the less commonly taught languages and world areas of strategic interest would not be replenished on a regular basis if dependent on State funding, university endowments, foundation grants or institutional support alone. Nor would there be collaborative outreach activities to K-16 educational institutions, business, government, the media, and underrepresented populations that multiply the reach of these small but effective programs.

Multiple federal agencies with complementary international education programs–such as the Departments of Defense, State, Commerce, and intelligence agencies–depend on the Title VI/Fulbright-Hays comprehensive infrastructure and resources to further their respective strategic goals. While the Department of Education works to ensure that their programs prioritize the targeted language and world regional resource needs of these agencies, the independent scholarship and diverse perspectives on world regional and international business issues these programs enable are often sought by all branches of the federal government. Moreover, graduates of Title VI programs, such as Secretary of Defense (Ret.) Robert Gates, go on to careers in the government including at the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State, and Commerce, as well as NASA, NSA, FBI, CIA and USAID, among others.

Our nation faces complex and challenging economic competitiveness, security, and global issues for the foreseeable future. Reinvesting in the international education programs that help produce the human resources and knowledge needed to succeed is the way forward.

Thank you for your consideration of our views. We appreciate your continued support for these programs, and would be pleased to provide any further information the Congress may need.

Submitted by the following organizations:

African Studies Association
Alliance for International Exchange American Association of Community Colleges
American Council of Learned Societies
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages American Councils for International Education
American Historical Association
American Political Science Association American University of Beirut
Asia Society
Association for Asian Studies
Association for International Business Education and Research
Association of International Education Administrators
Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities
Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
Consortium of Social Science Associations
Council of American Overseas Research Centers
Council of Directors of National Resource Centers
The Forum on Education Abroad
Joint National Committee for Languages
Latin American Studies Association
Middle East Studies Association
Modern Language Association
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
National Coalition for History
National Council for Languages and International Studies
National Humanities Alliance
North American Small Business International Trade Educators Association
Social Science Research Council

cc: Members and Staff of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees
Enc: HEA-Title VI and Fulbright-Hays Funding Chart, FY 2010 – FY 2019