196 Pakistanis get Fulbright scholarships
A total of 196 Pakistani students received the Fulbright scholarships for study in American universities in PhD, Masters and undergraduate programmes.
The Fulbright Act was introduced in the US congress in 1946 for the promotion of international goodwill through exchange of students.
Dr Grace Clarke, the executive director of the United States Education Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP), and Peter Bodde, charge dâ€™Affairs of the US Embassy, hosted a reception, which was attended by Fulbright Alumni, vice chancellors of universities and journalists on Friday.
Dr Grace addressed the Fulbright Alumni in Pakistan and briefed the participants on the salient features of the scholarship programme.
Beginning in 2005, special funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) allowed the establishment of a new Masters Degree Programme with a budget of $15 million per year, funding the Masters programme for approximately 100 Pakistanis students annually.
This year, with a joint funding from USAID and the Pakistanâ€™s Higher Education Commission (HEC), an additional $15 million per year has been added to the budget to establish a programme that will give scholarships to 50 Pakistanis a year for PhD in the US. Currently, the $30 million a year budget of the US-Pakistan Fulbright scholarships has made it the largest scholarship programme in the world.
Dr Grace said, â€œPakistan now has the largest Fulbright degree programme in the world. In 2003-2004 we sent a total of 19 grantees to the US. This year, we shall be sending 196. This increase in the number of Fullbright scholarships would not have been possible without the support of the governments of the US, through USAID, and the Pakistan through the HEC. It would also not have been possible without the support of our steadfast alumni who have generously contributed their time to serve on selection panelsâ€.
This year, 25 students will pursue PhD programmes and 13 have been enrolled in Masters, she said. â€œWe also have a new programme this summer for the undergraduates. This is a special programme just for Pakistan in which 40 undergraduates will go to the US for six weeks to study US government, politics, culture and society,â€ she said.
A US Senator from the state of Arkansas, J William Fulbright, first suggested a programme that would take on the whole world, with students from as many countries as possible studying and living in Europe, Asia, Africa, the rest of the Western Hemisphere and the Pacific.
After the act was passed, the USEFP in Pakistan was established in 1950 by the governments of Pakistan and the US. USEFP was guided by a bi-national commission consisting of an equal number of Pakistanis and Americans and the chairman were altered each year between Pakistan and America.
USEFP is one of the 51 Fulbright Commissions located across the world. Since 1951, when the first group of Pakistani grantees travelled to America, and 1952 when the first American grantees visited Pakistan, the foundation has fostered mutual understanding between the people of Pakistan and the US through educational and cultural exchanges. It is estimated that nearly 1,800 Pakistanis have so far benefited from the programme.