Our Work


APLU is a leading higher education association in advocacy for international legislative priorities. Through the International Advocacy Coordinating Committee and the Council on Governmental Affairs, APLU drives an agenda to support the international work of U.S. universities including engagement in international development, internationalization of curriculum and campuses, and the development of globally-competent students.

APLU’s core international advocacy priorities include:

Our nation’s broken immigration system has significant repercussions for our public universities and the country at large.

Approximately 65,000 undocumented youth graduate U.S. high schools every year. These students were largely raised in the United States, many knowing no other home and some no other language other than English. Yet through no fault of their own, they are caught in an untenable situation. APLU strongly supports a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers that includes a path to citizenship, work authorization, and access to federal student aid. APLU also supports states Dreamers eligible for in-state tuition, occupational licensure, and other key benefits.

Public research universities draw some of the brightest minds from across the globe to study on their campuses. APLU strongly supports expanding opportunities for international students to live and work in the United States following graduation. Among the most significant factors international students consider when deciding where to study are opportunities to live and work in a country following graduation. The U.S. penalizes prospective students who demonstrate any interest in remaining in the U.S. after completion of their studies by denying them a visa. Congress should increase the number of employment based green cards to meet the needs of students, the U.S. workforce, and our global competitiveness and extend “dual intent” to international students, permitting them to express both a desire to study and remain in the United States.

At the same time, global competitors are seeing increases in their enrollments through a carefully constructed strategy to boost their share of the world’s talent.Our main competitors for international students (Australia, Canada, China, Germany, and the United Kingdom) have adopted national strategies to attract more international students to their countries. While elements of each national strategy may differ, they all include five key components:

  1. Streamlined and expedited student visa processes;
  2. Increasing international student scholarships to attract students in key disciplines and/or geographic areas;
  3. Promoting their country as a study destination;
  4. Investing in domestic universities to improve research quality and compete as work-class institutions; and
  5. Pathways for work permits and residency.

APLU strongly supports the creation and implementation of a national strategy that conveys a welcoming emessage for international students and adopts policies that allows the U.S. to successfully compete with other countries for international students. APLU advocates for policies that expand opportunities for international students to live and work in the United States following graduation, including protecting the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, expanding to “dual intent” for international students, and expedited paths to green cards for graduates of U.S. universities. Graduates often fill jobs in sectors with long-standing shortages of qualified U.S. workers and it’s the national interest to retain international graduates of our universities so they can spark innovations, start businesses, and create jobs right here in the United States.

In addition to supporting policies that make the U.S. a competitive and welcoming destination for international students, the federal government must create policies that allow highly skilled international students to remain in the U.S. following graduation and highly educated immigrants from abroad to enter the country. APLU supports creating a streamlined pathway to green cards for STEM-advanced degree graduates and expanding the H-1B visa program that provides non-immigrant visas to high-skilled foreign talent. Congress should increase the availability of both H-1B visas and green cards to graduates of U.S. universities to end the self-defeating practice of training the best and brightest international students at U.S. universities and then not providing an opportunity for them to contribute to our economy following graduation.   APLU helped unite the higher education community on a common set of principles for immigration reform.

Institutions of higher education play a foundational role in economic and societal development, training nurses, doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, and scientists, and many additional positions essential to a robust civil society. Public research universities partner with institutions in developing countries to increase their capacity to train the next generation of leaders who are prepared with skills and knowledge needed to drive gains in life expectancy, quality of life, and economic growth. This work is vital to fostering stable, prosperous societies with vibrant public and private sectors. U.S. university engagement with institutions abroad bolsters U.S. ties with partner counties and elevates values like democracy and human rights.

To achieve these goals, APLU advocates for robust investment in higher education through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). APLU aims to strengthen USAID’s global engagement, exchanges, and development of critical higher education capacity in developing nations. In 2022, APLU’s Commission on International Initiatives assembled the Higher Education Capacity Development Workgroup to identify data, case-examples, and justification for increased support for public university in higher education programs at USAID. The group is examining the value of public institutions as a part of international capacity development.

Feed the Future Innovation Labs
Currently, 21 ILs are led by 14 U.S. universities in partnership with over 60 other U.S. colleges and universities, including 14 Minority Serving Institutions. Through this program, researchers at U.S. universities work with USAID missions and developing country research institutions in areas that depend on agriculture to address issues that disrupt the global food supply, including post-harvest losses, food safety and quality, and pest and disease management. As repositories of global agricultural and food system expertise, the U.S. Innovation Lab network of experts provides reliable, science-based information on food production, access, processing, distribution, and supply chain challenges.

APLU engaged Members of Congress to support the Feed the Future Innovation Labs in the reauthorization of the Global Food Security Act, noting that the labs have supported food and agriculture research partnerships in over 30 countries and provided trainings for tens of thousands of individuals each year.7 These investments have a return of $4 for every public dollar invested, transforming developing economies and opening new U.S. trading opportunities. APLU and member institutions work with members of Congress to support increased funding for the Innovation Labs.