Capitol Alert

VIDEO: Jerry Brown, Mexican officials pledge to increase college student exchanges

MEXICO CITY – Joining government officials here Tuesday in a call to increase college student exchanges between California and Mexico, Gov. Jerry Brown praised “another way to bring California and Mexico closer together.”

“We’ve been getting closer together just by the migration pattern of the last few decades,” the Democratic governor said. “This is a more conscious effort to accelerate and deepen – or I might even say rationalize – that process.”

In a non-binding agreement signed at Casa de California, the University of California’s facility in Mexico City, the Brown administration and Mexican officials said they hope to encourage more student exchanges, fellowships and joint research.

Mexico sent more than 14,000 students to the United States in the 2012-13 academic year, but far fewer students travel the other way, according to the New York nonprofit Institute of International Education. In all, the U.S. sent fewer than 4,000 students to Mexico in 2011-12, the most recent year for which data was available, according to the New York-based Institute of International Education.

Both the Obama administration and state officials have announced goals to increase those numbers.

Student exchanges are widely viewed as significant to improving cultural and economic ties between countries, but many Americans avoided Mexico in recent years because of a surge in drug violence and organized crime.

The California State University system only last year lifted a ban on student travel to Mexico it instituted in 2011 over security concerns.

At a breakfast reception at the UC facility, a lush estate in a colonial neighborhood, Brown said the university is a “big, gigantic institution,” but also a place for personal connections.

He called it “a place where people meet each other, fall in love, fight, compete and do all the other things that make life worth living.”

In his second full day in Mexico, Brown later met with Mexican energy officials to sign an agreement – also non-binding – that contemplates cooperation on clean energy projects and electricity.

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