Recently, the Department of Education cancelled the Title VI American Overseas Research Centers (AORC) program following a Congressional appropriations bill (HR 1473) cutting $800 million from higher education programs. The decision to cut these programs came after AORCs had submitted their applications for funding for the FY2011 competition. AORCs are a unique part of the Department of Education's international programs and a vital part of American higher education. Our petition requests restoration of Title VI AORC funding now and in the future.
American Overseas Research Centers:
Are located in countries of vital importance to the United States: AORCS are located in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Inner Asia, West Africa, and Central America.
Have impact on thousands of U.S. students: The AORCs are responsible for taking thousands of U.S. students and scholars from universities across America to places overseas where access to study and research sources is difficult. In many countries where AORCs are located they are the only permanent link to American academia.
Are relied upon by U.S. universities and colleges: 400 American educational institutions in 47 states holding nearly 1000 institutional memberships in 25 AORCs around the world rely on the AORCs for research and study overseas.
Are cost-effective: The AORCs facilitate research, conduct programs, and inform the American public all while operating at very low cost. With the elimination of the Title VI AORC program, any further reduction in funding could cause AORCs to shut down or drastically cut services.
Inform the American public and policy makers: AORC officers and affiliated scholars are called upon by television, print, radio, and electronic media outlets and government agencies for interviews and background information about current events.
We the undersigned respectfully request the restoration of and future funding for the Department of Education's American Overseas Research Centers (AORC) Program, which is part of the International Education and Foreign Language Studies programs recently affected by budget cuts in HR 1473. Last year the Department provided $1.2 million for essential operations support for key overseas centers. In turn, these centers provided fellowships to more than 500 American scholars and students annually and services to countless others. Additionally, each year thousands of students, teachers, and scholars supported by the Fulbright programs, NEH, NSF, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Science Research Council, as well as hundreds of independent US scholars and study groups, use these centers' resources. Without the support of American Overseas Research Centers our nation will be less prepared for our global responsibility. Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.