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US colleges regain luster for foreigners

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That says two things, according to US officials and education experts.

First, the measures taken in response to a drop in foreign-student interest in the US – for example, explaining the US visa process and publicizing US higher-education opportunities – have eased foreigners' concerns. And second, the international cachet of the American university education is buffed and shining once again.

"Clearly American higher education has a phenomenal reputation around the world, but it's been our job in recent years to get the word out that America's door is open and we want foreign students to come here," says Goli Ameri, assistant secretary of State for educational and cultural affairs.

The State Department has opened 450 "Education USA" advising centers at consulates and libraries around the world, and a like-named website provides foreigners with information – and reassurances that the visa process is not the insurmountable hurdle they may have heard about.

"The visa process really has been streamlined and made more predictable and transparent," Ms. Ameri says. "Our Bureau of Consular Affairs has really focused on this."

Certainly the $15 billion a year that foreign students pump into the US economy is one reason for the focus. But other reasons transcend the financial aspects.

"Foreign students enrich our campuses and our country. They bring to our communities parts of our increasingly interdependent world," she says.

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