12. Memorandum From Acting Secretary of State Dillon to President Eisenhower0


  • Proposal to Invite up to Ten Thousand Russian Students to the United States

In considering your suggestion that the United States might invite up to 10,000 Russian students to come here for a year of college education, it is my opinion that the public relations effect of such an offer would be good in the United States and would also be generally well received abroad.

There are, however, two specific foreign policy problems which such a program would raise which may make it advisable to consider some modification in the numbers involved. The first consideration is the effect of such an offer on countries which presently desire to send more students to the United States and are prevented from so doing by lack of funds or other obstacles. This would apply with particular force to Poland and Yugoslavia. In view of the NSC policy to encourage contacts between Poland and the West1 it would seem essential to accompany any offer to the Russians with a commensurate offer to Poland. The same considerations would apply in the case of Yugoslavia and possibly to a lesser degree in the case of certain other Eastern European satellites. It would also appear desirable to make available some additional scholarships for students from underdeveloped countries, so as to avoid any implication that we are less interested in their needs than in a program with the Soviet Union.

The second consideration is the effect of such a proposal on our present exchange program with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union would undoubtedly look upon such an offer as primarily a propaganda move on the part of the United States, and it is possible that this would lead them to halt or slow down the present modest exchange program. However, my personal view is that the difficulty that we might have with our present exchange program with the Russians probably is not a sufficient reason in itself to decide against going ahead with a dramatic proposal such as you have in mind. Nevertheless, it is an element that should be taken into consideration in reaching a final decision.

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All things considered it is my personal opinion that an offer to bring, say, 2,000 to 3,000 Soviet students to the United States on a one-time basis, paralleled by an enlargement of our facilities for receiving Polish and Yugoslav students as well as students from the underdeveloped countries having in mind a total one-year program of around 5,000 from all sources, would be the best course. I believe such an offer to the Soviets would have a publicity impact almost the equivalent of a larger number and would be helpful in terms of our relations with other countries.

Douglas Dillon
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Project Clean Up. Confidential. A copy was sent to Gray under cover of a memorandum of June 16 from Dillon. (Department of State, Central Files, 511.613/6–1659)
  2. See Document 46.