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Adam Grotsky, executive director, USIEF, the Fulbright Commision in India, speaks to Gauri Rane Shetty about opportunities the US continues to open even as the education climate undergoes a change. The United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF), in collaboration with the Institute of International Education (IIE), a not-for-profit organisation, recently organised the US Universities Fair across the country. Representatives from 32 US universities, which represent a wide geographical area, participated in the fair.


USIEF, which is committed to help Indian students find accredited universities in the US that are best fit for their academic and professional needs, has quite a few fellowship/ scholarships programmes that students can avail. Adam Grotsky, executive director, USIEF give a low down on opportunities the US continues to open even as the education climate undergoes a change. While Canada, Europe and even NZ promise myriad opportunities, the current job scenario in the USA seems tough. What do you think is the future of international students who choose USA as their education destination? We are an educational advising centre, not really a job-counselling facility. As far as the education that students who go to the US get, we would like to state that the US has over 4000 accredited schools, and students have the opportunity to choose from a wide array of schools and programmes. US schools have been voted the top choice by over 90 per cent of Indian students polled by IIE interested in higher education abroad. This speaks volumes for the high regard the US higher education commands. US universities continue to be at the cutting edge of technology, methodology and pedagogy.

Considering the current employment and economic situation in the USA, what was the response to the IIE fairs? The USIEF-IIE fairs were successfully conducted in New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai, and saw a good student/ parent turnout. These fairs provide a platform for Indian students and American universities to connect and explore opportunities. American higher education continues to attract talented-well qualified students from around the world. Tell us about your experience with the student community here. I am really impressed with the quality of Indian students. The willingness and eagerness to learn among the Indian students is incredible. India has a large and growing young population and I am sure that the coming generation of Indian students has a lot more to offer to the US and to the world. Can you tell us more about the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative with regards to the following: • Who are the members of the bi-national selection committee? Are the members chosen or elected and on what basis? • What kind of institutional linkages does this initiative hope to foster? • What will USIEF look at when they disburse grants up to USD 250,000 to American universities? Is the criterion of selection similar when UGC allocates funds to Indian institutions? OSI is a part of the larger strategic dialogue between India and the US. Both countries recognise the importance of fostering institutional partnerships in the field of education, and the OSI grants will help take this agenda forward.

The initiative hopes to foster linkages that will help develop sustainable projects. The criteria are very diverse and open-ended, so the institutions will have a lot of latitude in determining their area of collaborative interest. The aims at encouraging collaboration and partnerships between American and Indian institutions of higher education through exchanges such as curriculum design, research collaboration and team teaching in a variety of areas that include, but are not limited to, Agricultural Sciences and Food Security; Energy; Sustainable Development; Climate Change; Environmental Studies; Education and Educational Reform; Public Health; and Community Development and Innovation. The selection committee has not been determined yet.

The deadline for receiving applications from US institutions ended on November 1. We have received over a 100 applications and we are really excited about this. We hope that this programme will result in long-term and strong student and faculty exchanges, research collaborations, joint degree and certificate programmes. There will also be special emphasis on junior faculty development through this. The project should be designed to focus on specific institutional objectives that will support the programme’s goals of encouraging mutual understanding, facilitating educational reform, fostering economic development, and engaging civil society.

The project design should include a series of exchange visits and activities that will lead to the achievement of the project’s objectives within a three-year period, and should describe a process for evaluating the results of project implementation. The design should also provide for the effective administration of the project. Your advice to parents/ students/ applicants who look forward to study in the USA. The US has been the higher education magnet for the rest of the world for decades. Last year, there were over 690,000 students from all over the world studying in the US. The US higher education system has both depth and breadth. Students who plan on studying in the US must ensure they get their information and advice from the best sources. The US Department of State supported EducationUSA and the advising centers at USIEF offer unbiased, up-to-date and authentic information to prospective students. A wealth of information is also available at these websites: www.usief.org.in and www.educationusa.state.gov. Students also have the option of calling the toll-free help desk 1-800- 103-1231 Monday through Friday, from 2 to 5 pm for advice and information
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