Two global-education associations are applauding President Obama’s announcement on Wednesday that the United States will restore relations with Cuba, ending a diplomatic freeze that lasted more than half a century.
“Generations of foreign-policy makers have agreed that academic exchanges are one of the most powerful tools we have to open up closed societies,” Victor C. Johnson, senior adviser for public policy at Nafsa: Association of International Educators, said in a written statement. “The president’s announcement today, building off the changes he implemented earlier in his presidency, will further expand opportunities for people-to-people exchanges, study abroad, and research collaboration between our two countries.”
In 2011, Mr. Obama announced that restrictions on academic travel to Cuba would be lifted, a decision that was cheered by many in higher education. The changes announced on Wednesday will make travel easier and lift banking restrictions, but will not lift the trade embargo. “We call upon Congress do its part in normalizing relations with Cuba by lifting the trade embargo so that Americans can engage freely with Cuba as they can with any other country,” Mr. Johnson added.
Allan E. Goodman, president of the Institute of International Education, had similar praise for the White House. “Despite a host of challenges, institutions in both countries have expressed the need to expand exchange opportunities; not only for students, but also for faculty and researchers,” he said in an email to The Chronicle. “The potential for collaboration is clear and the motivation is high. Opening up relations with Cuba will provide the higher-education community with the opportunity to develop and expand academic partnerships.”