By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine

There is quite a focus on the USA in this week’s news coverage, with stories relating to both inbound and outbound study.

The Institute of International Education has launched the Generation Study Abroad, an initiative to double the number of American college students heading abroad, either on credit-bearing or non-credit educational programmes. This is the latest in a series of high-profile schemes in the USA, following President Obama’s ‘100,000’ announcement and the establishment of a China study abroad foundation by Hillary Clinton.

Such schemes perhaps don’t offer a huge amount of direct business for North American agents as they tend to be organised through colleges, but anything that ignites the flame of study abroad and extols its virtues is always welcome.

Meanwhile, another story has highlighted deficiencies in the way that the USA Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency administers the Optional Practical Training scheme, a post-study work benefit designed for international students to gain practical employment experience related to their field of study.

An internal government report found that in one third of cases – over 40,000 students – there was no record of the employer’s name, and that ICE was not recording work start dates, which therefore meant it was not able to monitor overstay.

Whether this represents a major security risk, as one senator was adamant in a letter to the Homeland Security Secretary, is another matter, but I do find it quite astonishing that immigration departments make educational institutions, agents and students jump through numerous administrative hoops in order for a student to commence a course of study, but can then do very little themselves to track students after they finish.

Elsewhere, it has certainly been a busy week or two for industry events. Head to our Grapevine gallery on the news home page and you’ll find images from the ICEF Japan and Korea roadshow, an English UK Fair in Vienna, the English UK Management Conference and the annual Feltom workshop in Malta (full report to follow), not to mention the Lord Mayor of Brisbane welcoming international students to the city in an annual reception.

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