We are gravely disappointed by today’s Supreme Court decisions regarding affirmative action and student debt loan forgiveness. The decisions only deepen our resolve at the Fund for Education Abroad to advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in international education by supporting students for whom access to such opportunities remains unfairly out of reach.
We believe that the decision regarding affirmative action, limiting the use of race as a factor in college admissions, will lead to a crisis of access within U.S. higher education and continue to deepen inequities in study abroad. The court’s decision regarding the proposed loan forgiveness plan impacts college students and graduates who face financial barriers when pursuing study abroad as part of their higher education journey.
The Fund for Education Abroad grounds its work in our belief in the power of diversity and the unique perspectives that individuals from all walks of life bring to communities of learning. This week’s SCOTUS decisions promote sameness – drastically limiting perspective, ingenuity, and the richness accorded by a diversity of experience. In order to foster more inclusive education abroad, we must recognize higher education’s historic exclusion of many communities. Sustaining centuries-long traditions of privilege and access—in and of themselves forms of affirmative action—by limiting the use of race as a factor in college admissions makes access to higher education dependent upon familial wealth and advantages of geography, demography, and birth. Lifetime-crushing debt weakens our institutions, our society, and our collective future.
Our diversity is our superpower. Restricting it reduces our ability as a nation to fully understand and lead on an economically, racially, and demographically diverse global stage. Tertiary education and international experiences are table stakes for professionals competing in our increasingly globalized, interdependent world. Every student, regardless of background or means of affording higher education, deserves the chance to broaden their horizons through study abroad.
Although the Supreme Court’s decision regarding affirmative action prevents universities from using certain practices to foster diversity it neither eliminates the need for diversity nor the determination to achieve it. It is a temporary setback. It is more important than ever for organizations like ours to step in and help bridge the gap.
Today, we resolve to work even harder to advance opportunities for students historically excluded from international education by family history, age, circumstance, wealth, student debt, or race. We will not stop until we achieve our ultimate goal of an international education sector so naturally inclusive and representative that the Fund for Education Abroad is no longer needed.
Our belief in the power of diversity, the right to self-actualization through economic opportunity, and the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness uphold all that we, as Americans, hold dear. Our impressive FEA Scholars represent the very best our nation has to offer. We at the Fund for Education Abroad are determined, now more than ever, to support the FEA Scholars of today and the future.
Angela Schaffer, Executive Director
Mark Lenhart, Board Chair & Co-Founder
Kate Simpson, Co-Founder
Fund for Education Abroad