This week marks the celebration of International Education Week, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States. On Monday, November 16, 2015, U.S. Embassy Dushanbe, along with nine non-governmental organizations, held an international education fair at the Ismaili Center, in which Charge d’Affaires a.i. Leslie M. Hayden lauded International Education Week as an opportunity to encourage students to become globally successful through international education and international engagement. Other organizations participating in the Fair included EducationUSA, ACCELS, DAAD, Bactria, University of Central Asia, Erasmus+, Multikid, OSI AF Tajikistan, and Aga Khan University in UK.
The 2015 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange was also released on November 16, as a component of the International Education Week celebration. This report finds the number of international students at U.S. colleges and universities had the highest rate of growth in 35 years, increasing by ten percent to a record high of 974,926 students in the 2014/15 academic year. This strong growth confirms that the United States remains the destination of choice in higher education. The United States hosts more of the world’s 4.5 million globally mobile college and university students than any other country in the world, almost double the number hosted by the United Kingdom, the second leading host country. In 2014/15, there were 88,874 more international students enrolled in U.S. higher education compared to the previous year.
The new report highlighted information about Tajikistan, noting that there were 254 students from Tajikistan currently studying in the United States, marking a decrease of 5.9% when compared with last year. The number of U.S. students coming to Tajikistan to study for academic credit at their home university in the United States increased by 189 percent to a total number of 26. Students from Tajikistan in the United States study primarily at the undergraduate level, with 28 percent at the graduate level in 2014/15, 57 percent enrolled at the undergraduate level, 9 percent pursuing optional practical training, and 6 percent in non-degree programs such as English language or short-term studies.
The U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe and its partners seek to encourage more students to study in the United States through a variety of programs that offer study exchanges as well as opportunities to prepare Tajiki students to improve their success at being accepted to universities in the United States with financial aid packages. Just a few examples of these programs include:
- The Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX), a year-long program for 15-17 year olds, offers students an opportunity to study at a U.S. high school and live with a U.S. family;
- The Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (UGRAD), in which undergraduate students spend an academic semester at an American university;
- Study in the United States Summer Institute (SUSI), for female undergraduates who want to participate in intensive academic programs on leadership; and
- The Fulbright Foreign Student Program, a two year program for students who wish to pursue their Master’s degrees in the U.S.
“We are excited to see that record numbers of students are taking advantage of international education opportunities, and we applaud the efforts of U.S. higher education as we work together to increase the number of American students who study abroad,” said Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. “It is critical that we continue to make study abroad more accessible. These exchanges strengthen ties between the United States and countries around the world. By increasing accessibility to study abroad, we are investing in our future and providing a forum to solve global challenges.”
“International experience is one of the most important components of a 21st century education,” said IIE’s President Dr. Allan E. Goodman. “Studying abroad is one of the best ways undergraduate and graduate students gain the international experience necessary to succeed in today’s global workforce. And studying in another country prepares students to be real contributors to working across borders to address key issues in the world we share.”
The Open Doors® report is published annually by the Institute of International Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
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Open Doors is published by the Institute of International Education, an independent not-for-profit organization with a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,400 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE has conducted an annual statistical survey of the international students in the United States since its founding in 1919 and in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since 1972. Open Doors also reports on the number of international scholars at U.S. universities; international students enrolled in pre-academic Intensive English Programs; and on U.S. students studying abroad. Further details on the Open Doors 2015 surveys and their findings is on the Open Doors website at www.iie.org/opendoors, and the full 100+ page report can be ordered for $79.95 from IIE Books at www.iiebooks.org.
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State leads a wide range of academic, professional, and cultural exchanges that include approximately 50,000 participants annually, including the flagship Fulbright Program and the International Visitor Leadership Program, with the goal of increasing mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. ECA also sponsors the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarships for U.S. undergraduates with financial need, the Critical Language Scholarship Program in support of U.S. study abroad, and the EducationUSA network of over 400 advising centers worldwide, which provides information to students around the globe who wish to study in the United States. For more information on the Department of State’s educational and cultural exchange activities, visit www.exchanges.state.gov.