UCLA International Language and Area Studies Programs Under Threat!

An appeal to contact your representatives and urge them to save these valuable programs

The Trump Administration has issued a Presidential Budget Request that calls for the reduction or elimination of international education programs in the Department of Education (Title VI & Fulbright-Hays).

The UCLA International Institute is home to four nationally recognized centers for foreign language and area studies education that receive funding from the US Department of Education Title VI programs: The Asia Pacific Center, the Latin American Institute, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, and the National Heritage Language Resource Center. For over forty years, these programs have supported the study of critical and less-commonly-taught languages at UCLA, trained thousands of K-12 teachers, and sponsored public film screenings, lectures, and symposia for the greater Los Angeles community. Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) and Fulbright-Hays dissertation research abroad fellowships have ensured that generations of the graduate students have the training they need to serve as experts in their field, whether in academia, government service, or international business.

In 2016, UCLA Title VI centers:

  • trained 570 K-16 social studies and language teachers
  • awarded $668,000 in Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships to UCLA students
  • taught Khmer (Cambodian) and Nahuatl (indigenous language of Mexico and Central America) via online distance learning to students at UCLA, Stanford, and UC Berkeley

On the national importance of Title VI programs, see "Language and Cultural Studies Contribute to National Security, Really," by Amb. (Ret.) Patrick Duddy (Durham Herald-Sun, March 23, 2017).

What you can do

The Coalition for International Education has partnered with the National Humanities Alliance to save these programs. Contact your Representatives in Congress and urge them to oppose any proposals to eliminate the international education and foreign language studies (HEA-Title VI and Fulbright-Hays) programs in the U.S. Department of Education.

Sign the petition at http://p2a.co/7olnROm.

The petition includes a letter to federal legislators with this suggested wording:

As a constituent, I am writing to urge you to oppose any proposals to eliminate the international education and foreign language studies (HEA-Title VI and Fulbright-Hays) programs in the U.S. Department of Education. These programs are critical to our capacity for productive international engagement.

Title VI and Fulbright-Hays are vital to the nation’s security and economic competitiveness, so I am deeply concerned by the Trump Administration’s call to eliminate funding for these programs in its Budget Blueprint for FY 2018. Title VI and Fulbright-Hays are the federal government’s most comprehensive programs for developing and maintaining a steady supply of graduates with deep expertise on foreign languages and cultures, international markets, world regions, and global issues that support our diplomatic, defense, commercial, and educational interests.

These programs have been extremely effective. Title VI National Resource Centers account for 59% of undergraduate and 81% of graduate enrollments in the least commonly taught languages of strategic interest. Many graduates, such as former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, go on to careers in the government including at the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, NASA, NSA, Commerce and USAID, among others. Title VI also spearheads nationwide internationalization of business education through its CIBER program. From 1987-2009, nearly 250,000 students graduated from a CIBER university with a concentration in international business, and nearly 300,000 executives, many from small and medium businesses, have been trained by CIBERs. As to Fulbright-Hays, a 2008 Department of Education study concluded that participants in the Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad program were more likely to finish their degrees and do so in less time than their peers and that 90% of graduates directly utilized their foreign language and area studies expertise in their careers.

Already, the Title VI and Fulbright Hays infrastructure has been severely depleted in recent years. Due to disproportionate funding reductions since FY 2011, there are 25% fewer nationally recognized resource centers, 18% fewer fellowships, fewer training opportunities for countless numbers of students and teachers, and fewer outreach activities to government and business. Any further reductions would severely and indefinitely impair these long-standing, bipartisan programs. This comes at a time when recent reports and Congressional hearings have documented the growing unmet needs across employment sectors for Americans with strong language skills, deep cultural knowledge, and regional expertise to enhance U.S. capabilities and readiness. Eliminating these programs would seriously weaken our nation’s long term capacity for effective international engagement across all levels of government and the private sector.

Federal financial incentives are the linchpin for ensuring instruction, curricula, and research on over 200 less-commonly taught languages and all regions of U.S. strategic interest. In 2007, a National Research Council study found that HEA-Title VI and Fulbright-Hays “have served as the foundation for internationalization in higher education at modest cost, while stimulating substantial additional investment by universities themselves.” Moreover, other federal programs with more targeted priorities, such as those at the Departments of Defense, Commerce, and State, depend on the Title VI and Fulbright-Hays educational infrastructure in order to further their respective strategic goals.

While I appreciate the difficult budgetary decisions ahead as the FY 2018 appropriations process moves forward, I strongly believe that budget eliminations or cuts should not be made at the expense of strategic national interests, especially as the needs addressed by Title VI and Fulbright-Hays grow by the day. I respectfully urge you to support at least $72.2 million for these programs, including $65.1 million for Title VI and $7.1 million for Fulbright-Hays.

Thank you for your consideration.

Published: Friday, April 07, 2017