To promote educational and cultural exchange between the United States (US) and Pakistan, 189 students have been awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to pursue advanced studies and research at leading US universities. The awardees will start their higher education journey at 82 universities this fall in various disciplines, including environmental studies, energy management, and social sciences.
Fulbright is the flagship scholarship program of the United States Government, operating in 160 countries. Pakistan has the largest Fulbright program in the world in terms of the US government contribution, with $18.44 million dollars this year to support 189 students. This is a testament to the US commitment to cooperation with Pakistan, now celebrating its 75th anniversary. The Government of Pakistan, through the Higher Education Commission (HEC), also supports a significant number of Ph.D. scholarships.
This year’s 189 students attended a two-day pre-departure orientation organized by the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) in Islamabad to prepare for the journey, their exchange programs, life on university campuses, and American culture. US Ambassador to Pakistan, Donald Blome, congratulated the grantees on their achievement.
“Pakistani Fulbrighters have solved social problems, written new laws, advanced policies to ensure equal access and voices to all, and so much more. They do this all for one purpose: to create a better, safer, and more prosperous Pakistan. In this goal, the United States and Pakistan are united,” Ambassador Blome said.
He further stressed that the United States invests in education because it strengthens the American relationship with Pakistan, builds stability in the region, and leads to shared economic prosperity.
The 2022 Fulbright cohort is one of the largest ever for Pakistan, with students from 47 public and private universities representing all regions of Pakistan. This year, 125 Masters and 64 Ph.D. (31 Fulbright Ph.D. and 33 Fulbright-HEC Ph.D.) students and 7 Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) fellows have been selected for these awards. Half of the grantees are women.
The scholarship covers travel, living stipends, health insurance, and tuition for the entire study period. Since the program began in Pakistan in 1951, 4,100 Pakistanis have received the Fulbright award to study, conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. In just the past two decades, 2,568 Pakistanis have been awarded these scholarships. When they return, Fulbright students join a community of over 32,000 Pakistanis who have participated in a US Government-sponsored exchange or English language program over the years.
The United States Government also supports Pakistani higher education in other ways because investing in education strengthens its bilateral relationship. This includes thousands of merit and needs-based scholarships for students to attend Pakistani universities; a variety of partnerships with 99 Pakistani universities to develop faculty and collaborate on research, such as in green energy and climate resiliency; and efforts to develop a new set of university English language courses with the Higher Education Commission.
“The Fulbright Exchange Program represents a life-changing opportunity for its recipients, providing a top-tier academic experience and exceptional cultural and social enrichment,” noted USEFP Executive Director Rita Akhtar, adding, “It is also a great contribution to both countries more broadly. Americans benefit from the experience and insight of Pakistan’s brightest young scholars, and Pakistanis benefit from the contribution these Fulbrighters make when they return with all their new knowledge and experience. More than 2,000 Fulbright alumni already returned and currently working in Pakistan are proof that Fulbright is a great investment in the future and a key component in building mutual understanding between the people of Pakistan and the people of the United States”.
USEFP is a bi-national commission established in 1950 by the governments of the United States and Pakistan. Since its inception, more than 9,300 Pakistanis and over 935 Americans have participated in USEFP-managed exchange programs.