112. Report by the Operations Coordinating Board’s Special Committee on Soviet and Related Problems1

REPORT ON PROPOSED GOVERNMENT PROGRAM FOR STUDENT EXCHANGE WITH SOVIET UNION AND OTHER COUNTRIES OF EASTERN EUROPE

Background:

1. Possible student exchange with the Soviet Union and other East European countries has been under active consideration ever since the Geneva Conference. One of the 17 proposals put forward by the three Western Foreign Ministers at Geneva on October 31, 1955, specifically called for exchange of students.2 And on June 29, 1956, the President approved the recommendation of the National Security Council that the U.S. should seek exchanges with the countries of Eastern Europe, including the USSR,3 along the lines of the 17-point proposal at Geneva.

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2. Khrushchev “challenged” the U.S. to student exchange, mentioning a figure of 200, in talking to a group of U.S. tourists this summer.4 Also, the Soviet Foreign Office has taken the initiative in suggesting exchange of students as a topic for negotiations in the overall discussions on exchanges scheduled for late October.

3. U.S. fingerprinting requirements, which had previously frustrated any student exchanges with the Soviet bloc, have now been amended by Congress to permit waiver of these requirements for visits of less than 12 months, and the necessary implementing action has already been taken by the Secretary of State and the Attorney General.5 Favorable action is also expected on a policy paper now circulating in the State Department6 which would recommend to the Attorney General that he waive inadmissibility for Soviet bloc exchangees who are members of the Communist Party or affiliated organizations, since it is anticipated that the majority of the bloc exchangees will be members of such organizations.

4. Thus, at the present time there are at last indications that a modest student exchange program might be successfully arranged with the Soviet Union and other East European governments.

5. Two concrete projects to comprise a government-financed student exchange program with the Soviet Union and other East European countries have been submitted to the Special Committee on Soviet and Related Problems in order to achieve full interagency understanding of, and support for, the program. The two projects, both of which would be sponsored by the Department of State, are complementary, though somewhat different in scope.

6. The first project has been drawn up by the International Educational Exchange Service of the Bureau of Public Affairs of the Department of State, in conjunction with the East-West Contacts Staff. This project calls for an extension to Eastern Europe of the rather extensive program of educational exchange with friendly and neutral countries which has been underway for some years under the terms of Public Law 402.7 At present, the IES program for exchanges with friendly and neutral countries involves about 6,300 [Page 261]exchanges annually at a cost to the U.S. of around $26,000,000. Except for a small program recently launched with Yugoslavia, all IES exchanges have been with non-Communist countries.

7. Here is a brief summary of the IES project as submitted to the Special Committee. It is apparent that the plan calls for a pilot operation only. Moreover, details of the plan are quite tentative, and its administration must be quite flexible.

a.
The total number of exchanges would be 114, including 44 students, 44 leaders and specialists in the field of education, 17 research scholars, and nine teachers. An effort will be made in administering the program to see that there is adequate representation of various fields of interest among the exchangees.
b.
Twenty exchangees will come to the U.S. from the Soviet Union, 34 from Poland, 9 from Czechoslovakia, and 5 from Rumania, An equal number of Americans will go to each country, except that only 12 Americans are slated to go to Poland. The 20 Soviet exchangees would include 10 students, two research scholars, and eight leaders.
c.
For Soviets coming to this country the U.S. would pay all expenses in the U.S. but not international travel expenses. For other foreigners, it is contemplated to pay international travel costs as well as expenses in the U.S.
d.
It is contemplated that the U.S. will pay only international travel costs for Americans going to the Soviet Union, but all costs for Americans going to Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Rumania.
e.
Students, teachers, and research scholars would be exchanged for a full academic year; leaders and specialists would visit for several months only.
f.
Total cost of the 114 exchanges is estimated at $554,000. IES plans to ask Congress for a supplemental appropriation of this amount to be expended in FY 1958 and FY 1959, and hopes that a decision can be reached by April 1958, so that student, teacher, and research scholar exchanges can begin with the opening of the academic year in September 1958, and leader exchanges even earlier.

8. The United States Advisory Commission on Educational Exchange, in a recent report to the Secretary of State,8 has approved the IES project in principle. The Commission recognizes the program as a “modest one” but a “beginning.” The Commission stresses the need for caution and flexibility, and “accepts the assurance of the Department that exchanges will be carried out only as it is determined that this can be done on the basis of reciprocity, as Congress intended, and with adequate provisions for sufficient freedom of movement and protection of the educational content of such exchanges as to warrant a reasonable expectation that the goals prescribed by Congress for these programs can be achieved.”

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9. Here is a brief summary of the second project, submitted by the East-West Contacts Staff, Bureau of Public Affairs, Department of State. The various aspects of this project, too, are quite tentative at the present time.

a.
This project differs from the IES project in that it involves only students and only two countries, U.S. and USSR. Also, the number of students to be exchanged is considerably greater and the length of the visits much shorter.
b.
During the summer of 1958, for a period of about six weeks, 100 American students would visit the Soviet Union and 100 Soviet students would visit the United States,
c.
It is contemplated that the travel costs of American students to and from the Soviet Union would be paid for by the U.S. Government, and that the expenses of the American students in the Soviet Union would be borne by the Soviet Government.
c. [d.]
To keep down the costs to the U.S. Government (and at the same time to simplify the task of selecting Americans to visit the Soviet Union) it is proposed that each American exchangee contribute a sum in dollars which would defray the expenses of a Soviet student during his stay in this country. (The contributions required of the American students might be raised for some of them by foundations, scholarship funds, church groups, labor unions, etc.) The travel expenses of the Soviet students to and from the U.S. would be paid for by the Soviet Government.
e.
Travel costs to and from the Soviet Union for 100 Americans are estimated at $100,000. A supplemental appropriation of this amount would be requested from Congress in conjunction with the IES request.
f.
The Soviet visitors would probably go in groups of 20 to five different universities which have, or would organize, appropriate summer seminars.
g.
In view of the nature of the project and the number of persons involved, present security requirements for Soviet bloc visitors, which put too much of a burden on the American hosts, would have to be revised. Obviously, it would not be possible or desirable to require individual surveillance over each Soviet student. It is anticipated that most of the visitors would be handled in groups and would be under constant observation of faculty advisers and the student organizers of the project. The security dangers would appear to be minimum. However, responsibility for security should rest solely with the FBI.

Pros and Cons of the Proposed Projects

10. Disadvantages of launching any program of student exchanges with Communist countries might include:

a.
Soviet bloc students in this country might engage in espionage or subversive activities. (However, it is more likely that the bloc governments involved would prefer to put their best foot forward and avoid the possibility of a display of bad faith. Furthermore, it is questionable that bloc governments would find use of [Page 263]exchangees for these purposes worthwhile. It is expected that any such activities could be controlled by our security organs.)
b.
The bloc governments might seek to subvert American students abroad. Also, American students, because they are often less mature politically and in other ways than many foreign students, might, through their immaturity, reflect adversely upon the U.S. (It is contemplated that the selection process would ensure that the U.S. participants be representative of the best of American youth and thus would reduce these risks to a minimum.)
c.
In addition, there will be some public opposition to the exchanges in this country as unwarranted burdens on the taxpayers or as an unnecessary display of willingness to cooperate with, and lend prestige to, Communist regimes. (On the other hand, broad public support for the principle of student exchange with Communist countries has already been manifest. The current intellectual ferment and interest in new ideas among Soviet bloc students is fairly well known to the American public, and it is clear that student exchange is one of the few steps which the U.S. can take to further directly its program of promoting peaceful change in the Soviet Union and other Communist countries.)
d.
There may be opposition to the proposed projects from some quarters on the grounds that they are too modest, too small-scale, to meet the needs of the times. (Both projects are in the nature of pilot operations for the first year, and could be expanded considerably if this should prove desirable on the basis of actual experience.)
e.
Another disadvantage might be that other countries more susceptible to Communist penetration than the U.S. would be influenced by the U.S. example and initiate or increase their own exchange programs with bloc countries, to the overall detriment of the Free World cause. (It is true, however, that extensive exchanges are already underway in many countries, and it is hoped that the example set by the U.S. of careful organization of exchange programs and careful selection of exchangees will have a beneficial effect.)

11. The advantages of the proposed projects would include:

a.
Exposure for even six weeks to American life could be expected to widen the intellectual horizon of Soviet bloc students, at least to some extent, and to suggest new ways of thinking, which Communist education has sedulously withheld from them.
b.
The returning Soviet bloc students could be expected to share, to a degree consistent with personal security, their experience in the U.S. with many fellow students who have had no contact with the U.S. and thereby help to correct misconceptions about this country which their governments encourage.
c.
The returning Soviet bloc students could be expected to act as a leaven in their society, working in the direction of a decrease in tension between the Soviet bloc and the West. Thus, as a more immediate result, they could be expected to increase pressure within their society for wider contacts outside the Sino-Soviet bloc, and in the long run to encourage evolutionary change in the Soviet system.
d.
The American students in the Soviet bloc could be expected to help spread among the people a first-hand knowledge of the [Page 264]outside world, particularly of the U.S. A good example of this process at work was seen in the impact of foreign visitors on Soviet young people at the recent Moscow youth festival.9
e.
Their experience would encourage many to pursue studies of the Russian language, of Communism and of the USSR and perhaps to increase ultimately the pool of U.S. specialists in those areas of knowledge.
f.
The returning American students could be expected in themselves and through their influence among other Americans to increase popular American recognition of problems of American Foreign Relations, particularly with the Soviet bloc.
g.
Soviet acceptance of the proposal would make it possible to achieve the advantages described above. Soviet rejection would bring with it a loss of prestige among the peoples of the world, including those within the Soviet bloc and in the “uncommitted areas” of the world.

Recommendation:

12. The Special Committee on Soviet and Related Problems finds that the program for student and educational exchanges with the USSR and other countries of Eastern Europe set forth in the two projects proposed by the International Exchange Service and the East-West Contacts Staff of the Department of State, and outlined in paragraphs 7 and 9 above, is a logical, timely, and highly desirable first step in the right direction and recommends that the OCB concur in this finding.

  1. Source: Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 61 D 385, East-West Exchanges. Secret. Circulated to the members of the Board under cover of a memorandum of the same date from Staats, in which he noted that the report was to be considered by the Board at its October 16 meeting.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 99.
  3. Document 104.
  4. Not further identified.
  5. On October 10 the Department of State announced that the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, acting under authority conferred upon them by Section 8 of P.L. 316 of September 11, 1957, were authorizing the publication of regulations waiving the fingerprinting requirement in the case of most nonimmigrant aliens. For texts of the announcement and the new regulations, also dated October 10, see Department of State Bulletin, October 28, 1957, p. 682.
  6. Not further identified.
  7. Apparently an error in the source text, since no P.L. 402 enacted between 1945 and 1957 dealt with educational exchange. Presumably reference was to P.L. 584 amending the Surplus Property Act of 1944, otherwise known as the Fulbright Act, signed into law on August 1, 1946. (60 Stat. 754)
  8. Not further identified.
  9. The Sixth World Festival of Youth and Students held in Moscow, July 28–August 11, the results of which are analyzed in Soviet Affairs, September 1957, pp. 11–13. (Department of State, INR Files, Soviet Affairs)