Last week, I was honored to attend the World Student Scholarship Education Program in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on behalf of IIE, which, for nearly 100 years, has specialized in the management of some of the world’s most elite student programs around the world. This conference brings together government scholarship administrators and higher education institutions to develop partnerships, and share updates on how we are all moving the needle forward to develop new talent, strengthen key fields of study, and to build new pathways for students within and between each of our countries. Representatives from government agencies in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Russia, Kazakhstan and Bahrain were in attendance as well as U.S. and foreign higher education institutions.
In China and many other countries in Asia, we are witnessing what education experts call “brain circulation” — I saw it first-hand in September in Beijing, where I attended the inaugural Opening Convocation for the first class of Schwarzman Scholars, a new Master’s program designed to foster understanding of and international ties with China by giving the world’s best and brightest students the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and professional networks through a one-year Master’s Degree at Tsinghua University in Beijing. This program is just a recent manifestation of the trend.
Georgia’s Minister of Education and Science, Aleksandre Jejelava, is embracing what I consider a more positive educational nationalism—a drive to internationalize higher education institutions, faculty and student bodies. During my visit to Tbilisi I heard him speak about his vision of Georgian higher education, to "[offer] education to all of our neighbors and draw students from even beyond them." To do so, the Georgian government amended its visa regime to make it easier for international students to come to Georgia for study purposes. By the year's end, Georgia will be part of the European Union visa waiver system and hopes to welcome many more European students under the Erasmus programs.
What would the world look like if girls were encouraged to be dreamers, tinkerers and makers? What if female students were truly supported, mentored and nurtured? What if women the world over had the same educational and professional opportunities as men?
Through WeTech, we not only envision this world—we work to actively build it.
In 2013, IIE and its consortium of private sector and NGO partners made a real commitment to creating an employee pipeline of girls and women into the technology sector. Launched as a commitment to action at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, the Women Enhancing Technology program (WeTech) is a set of innovative activities that provides training and builds networks for girls and women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) across the world. For the past three years, WeTech has opened up new life possibilities for young females, preparing them for and connecting them to STEM opportunities. The work is ongoing. But three years in, we pause to take stock of the tremendous impact WeTech has made thus far.
This August, 36 young women pursuing undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from universities across India and China completed the first year of the WeTech Qualcomm Global Scholars Program, an exciting new initiative made possible through Qualcomm’s support.
During the program, each Scholar received financial assistance through a US$5,000 scholarship and also had the unique opportunity to be mentored for a six-month period by a Qualcomm professional to further enhance her professional development and leadership skills.
As the Program Officer for Women Enhancing Technology (WeTech), administered by the Institute of International Education, I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in this program since its inception in 2015 and see the transformation of these young women throughout the course of their mentorships.
At the Institute of International Education’s Annual Gala this week in New York City, IIE presented seven Fulbright alumni with the inaugural IIE Global Changemaker Awards in celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Fulbright Program.
Fulbright, administered by IIE on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, builds relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, impacting local communities and the world by providing innovative and inclusive educational exchange opportunities for current and future leaders.
International education is increasingly being viewed as a means to developing human capital and cultivating leaders that can drive change and progress, especially in developing countries. Fellowships, study abroad, global research and internship programs are examples of international education exchanges. Through an exchange of students and young professionals across national borders, these higher education opportunities provide access to relevant knowledge and skills necessary for having an impact of policymaking and for a career in public affairs.
While the impact on recipients’ career and personal development is indisputable, evidence on the impact on the national public sphere, particularly in marginalized communities, has yet to be ascertained. How can international fellowship and scholarship programs influence policymaking? Can alumni of such programs foster change at a local, national, and global level by serving as key agents in government institutions?
“I sometimes was in doubt if I could realize my dreams but because of the support from the HER program there is no doubt for me now. I’m equipped with what I need to face the challenge I might face as a woman.” - HER Graduate
The month of July is a rainy one for Ethiopia. For IIE and the graduates of the Higher Education Readiness (HER) program, however, the 28th of July stands out as a bright and remarkable day where we got together to celebrate 100 girls who successfully graduated from high school and the HER program. These graduates come from underserved communities and families, and the HER program assisted them with a pathway to university and a hope for their future.
Sixty years ago, after gaining independence from France, Tunisia adopted the most progressive laws supporting women’s rights in the Middle East. The Tunisian Code of Personal Status outlawed polygamy, and gave women equal rights around decisions of marriage, divorce and child custody. Over the years, many have tried in the name of religion and cultural norms to challenge these laws. Most recently, the first draft of Tunisia’s new constitution released in 2012 caused outcry among women and emerging civil society organizations when Article 28 described women’s roles in the family as “complementary” to that of men.
Maria Beltran, Pattie Umali, Kate Hufnagel, and Zach Braun on
Monday, August 8, 2016
This summer, four American University graduate students traveled to Cuba to conduct an evaluation of IIE’s Cuba International Academic Partnership Program as part of a faculty-led group project. While informative academically and programmatically, this collection of short observations highlights how each team member also grew personally from the experience.