COMMUNITY

Fulbright Foundation boosting Greek-American academic ties

APOSTOLOS LAKASAS

TAGS: Education, Diplomacy

The academic relationship between Greece and the United States has grown stronger over the past few years, surpassing expectations. Increasing numbers of students are developing an interest in Greece and traveling here on short-term study abroad programs, but equally impressive is also that, despite the crisis, more Greeks are opting to study in the US.

A number of American universities organize seminars and/or classes in Greece. Courses range in length from a couple of weeks to six months and the number of American students and academics coming to Greece for such programs has grown impressively over the last few years, rising by 51.5 percent between 2013 and 2015.

According to the Fulbright Foundation in Greece, data from the New York-based Institute of International Education (IIE) published in the Open Doors Report show that 3,628 US university students traveled to Greece for short-term study abroad programs in the 2015-16 period.

The benefits for Greece from such exchanges are significant. Aside from the much-needed revenues they bring, these visitors act as ambassadors for the country when they return to the United States and may even represent potential future partners for Greek companies, organizations and universities. They are also more likely to return to Greece, with friends and family, for vacations.

“The Fulbright Foundation acts as a source of information for American educators, scientists and students who are considering Greece as a study destination. The United States’ broader education policy provides educators with the opportunity to familiarize themselves with foreign countries and their culture through training programs,” Artemis Zenetou, executive director of the Fulbright Foundation in Greece, tells Kathimerini. “Additionally, the goal is to double the number of American students who visit other countries through educational programs by 2020 through the Generation Study Abroad program.”

Moreover, IIE data show that over the last eight years Greek interest in an American education has been on the rise and the number of Greek students in the US grew by 17.3 percent in 2010-16. In the 2015-16 academic year the total number of Greek students in the US reached 2,199. Over 700 are undergraduates, while approximately 1,100 are in graduate or PhD programs. Roughly 400 are in practical training or short-term programs.

Nicholas Tourides, an educational consultant for the Fulbright Foundation in Greece, tells Kathimerini that the increase in undergraduates studying in the US has surpassed expectations over the past five years (at a rate of 53.2 percent), while the numbers of Greek postgraduate and PhD students in the US have remained relatively stable compared to previous years.

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