Seated patiently on roundtables with name and college name tags dangling from their necks were 180 proud students that have been awarded 2013 Fulbright scholarships. After much anticipation, the students said the process is a test of patience, but all worth it in the end. They were speaking at the conclusion of a two-day orientation session here at a local hotel.
A total of 151 master’s scholarship and 29 PHD scholarships have been granted to Pakistani students to study at various American universities. Speaking to The Express Tribune, Mustafa Ahmed from Karachi was extremely excited and said that the process was long, but worth the wait. Meenah Tariq, a student and entrepreneur awarded an MBA scholarship at Babson College, said the long process is a test in itself. “We work for a full year, but this scholarship is granted to those with determination,” she said.
In its 63rd year of operation in Pakistan, the Fulbright programme is one of the largest in Pakistan and oldest in the world.
Since 2005, 1,255 Pakistani’s have received Fulbright awards for graduate degrees of which 40 per cent have been women. US Deputy Chief of Mission Ambassador Richard Hoagland in his address to the students thanked HEC’s support throughout the process. Hoagland, who was a member of the selection committee for the programme 15 years ago, said he was very happy to see the turnout. “15 years ago, only six students were selected for this programme. I am overwhelmed to see the growth and the number of students participating,” he said.
Students will study a variety of academic disciplines, including engineering, energy management, business and social sciences. After completing their studies in the Unites States, the students will return to Pakistan. Speaking to The Express Tribune, USEFP Executive Director Rita Akhtar said that initially, the programme heavily focused on engineering and science students, but as of now, students are going to learn about different sectors and subjects so that they can return and work for the development of those areas in Pakistan. “We have students going for fine arts, theatre and design and other interesting disciplines which will not only bring diversity, but their contribution, once they return, will bring about the change we are trying to achieve through this programme.”
Akhar said that the HEC has guaranteed jobs for students who return with their PHD degrees. Moreover, a job portal is being made on the website.
The Fullbright Programme is the flagship academic exchange programme of the U.S government. Funded by the US Department of State and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The awards cover travel, living stipends, health insurance, and tuition for the entire period of study.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2013.