US Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings and US Assistant Secretary of State, Dina H. Powell, led the first ever high-profile delegation of college and university presidents on a visit to China yesterday, in a bid to attract more Chinese students to study in the US.
State Councilor Chen Zhili meets US Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings in the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on November 16, 2006.
The delegation was composed of the presidents of 12 key US universities and colleges including the universities of California, Florida and Ohio State.
Spellings delivered a speech at Beijing Normal University yesterday afternoon, during which she invited more Chinese students to study in the US. She said there were more than 4,000 institutions of higher learning in the US and many of them had established cooperative ties with Chinese universities to address issues ranging from medicine to technology and the environment.
"For decades we've attracted more students from China than almost any other country in the world," she said.
There are currently over 62,000 Chinese students studying in the US, she said. Last year the number of student and exchange visas the US issued to international students reached an all-time high of nearly 600,000, up 15 percent from the previous year.
Foreign students have complained that getting a US visa is difficult and took a long time following September 11, 2001 attacks. Spellings said the US was trying to change that.
"We've been working hard to make the visa process smoother, easier and more transparent," she said, adding that more than 97 percent of qualified students could get their visas in a few days.
Spellings expressed her hope that more Chinese students would experience higher education in the US and more students from America study in China.
State Councilor Chen Zhili met with the delegation yesterday evening and hoped that both countries would strengthen cooperation in high-level consultations, language teaching and joint scientific research.
During their stay in Beijing the delegation will also meet with government officials, entrepreneurs and university presidents to discuss measures to facilitate US-China educational cooperation.
(Xinhua News Agency November 17, 2006)