A growing consideration in today’s international student attraction planning is how U.S. schools can gain a share of foreign government scholars and J-1 scholars sponsored by the U.S. government. If one examines the most recent SEVIS Quarterly Report , it is no surprise that Saudi students are now the 4th leading source of international students in the United States, exceeding 43% grow in 2010-2011. The break neck rise of Saudi scholars in the U.S. directly corresponds with the edict of the King Abdullah in 2004 to increase the number of Saudis, particularly women, studying in Western countries.
Government funding of overseas study to the U.S. is not isolated to Saudi Arabia, in fact in the past several years several other Gulf States, newly liberated Arab countries and even developed countries have announced or launched well coordinated scholarship programs. Countries actively supporting and funding overseas scholarships include:
In addition to the tapping the largess of foreign governments, the U.S. government sponsors thousands of students each year under J1 programs managed by the State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. One such program, Community College Initiative, was launched in 2008 and brings students from more than 15 countries for 1 year academic study and cultural enrichment. California ETEC served as co-administrator of the California CCI Egypt program from 2009-2011 that brought 200 Egyptian students to 15 different host community colleges. For many of the host campuses, this was their first experience having Egyptian students on campus and hosting J1 students.
While the point of this post is not to dwell on the challenges that funded scholars bring to campus, it is important to note that government funded students are more than likely going to require more support than the typical F-1 student who is self-funded.
Below are a few lessons learned hosting funded scholars from the Egypt/Middle East
a) be prepared to provide high-touch support
b) pre-arrival academic counseling and placement test evaluation a must
c) address housing, meal and other lifestyle matters prior to student
d) establish a clear line of communication with funded scholars and designate
and acknowledge contact points for all aspects of academic and student life
e) Good Luck!
How to start the process to identify opportunities to host funded scholars?
We suggest you consider a visit to Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission and other Gulf States equivalents in Washington DC. You will also find representatives from all Middle East and Gulf States sponsoring students at the annual NAFSA Conference. A number of panels at NAFSA detail specific steps to get listed with the appropriate educational consulates in order to qualify as a host college in the U.S. Finally, we suggest you speak with colleges or universities that are currently hosting foreign government or U.S. funded J1 scholars.