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Applying to study in US is absolutely fair and merit-based, says Rita Akhtar


May 19, 2016


Held annually ‘The News’ Expo is the most successful unique platform and a linkage between the students aspirant of quality higher education in the prestigious national and international educational institutes.

It is an excellent opportunity not only for the students but also for the parents to get the direct information about the institution providing right education of their choice. This platform also gives them a straight excess to have answer of any in their mind from the representatives of the local and global academic organisations.

These views were expressed by the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) Executive Director Rita Akhtar in an interview with ‘The News’. USEFP is a partner of ‘The News’ Education Expo 16’.

Answering one frequent apprehension among the prospective candidates is that the selection process of applying to study in the US is really fair or not, Rita Akhtar categorically replied that it is absolutely fair and merit-based.

She said the USEFP administers a number of US scholarship and fellowship programmes for the Pakistani students to study in the United States.

The USEFP was established in 1950 by the governments of Pakistan and the United States. USEFP is one of 50 ‘Fulbright Commissions’ located throughout the world. So far more than nearly 5,000 Pakistanis and more than 900 Americans have participated in USEFP-administered exchange programmes the largest of which is the Fulbright programme.

The Fulbright Programme, is a programme of competitive, merit-based grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists.

The Fulbright Masters and PhD Programme funds graduate study in the United States for a Master's or Ph.D. degree. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), these grants cover tuition, required textbooks, airfare, a living stipend, and health insurance.

For the PhD degree programme, eligible applicants will have a Master's, MPhil or comparable degree (a minimum of 18 years of formal education) from an accredited university. It is highly desirable that candidates have work experience in teaching, research, or the public sector in Pakistan.

Besides, the Global Undergraduate Exchange Programme - Pakistan (Global UGRAD-Pakistan) in Pakistan is administered by the USEFP and in the United States by the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX).

The Global UGRAD programme is designed to award undergraduate Pakistani students enrolled at a university in Pakistan. The Global UGRAD-Pakistan programme offers cultural/academic exchange through a non degree programme for a semester at a university in the US.

The USEFP Executive Director said: “The foundation supervises a variety of programmes that send Pakistani students and scholars to American campuses while bringing American scholars to universities in Pakistan. The aim of all USEFP programmes is to help Pakistanis learn more about the US and to help Americans learn more about Pakistan and its people.

The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Programme, another high profile brings accomplished mid-career professionals with demonstrated leadership potential to the United States for a year of graduate-level non-degree academic coursework and professional development activities. This 10 month programme consists of academic coursework and internship in a relevant professional organisation. By providing future leaders and policy makers with experience in US society, culture, and professional fields, the programme provides a basis for lasting, productive ties between Americans and their professional counter parts overseas.

The Community College Initiative Programme is designed to support Pakistani young professionals at accredited US community colleges for one year of non-degree study programmes are being offered in the following fields: Agriculture, Applied Engineering, Business Management and Administration, Media, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Public Safety (Rescue/Disaster Management Services) and Early Childhood Education.

She said we conduct a number of standardised exams including paper-based tests, computer-based tests and internet-based tests. Popular are GRE, SAT, ACT, TOEFL, USMLE and others including Mock Test.

Answering why students should choose US for higher studies, she said the United States has one of the world's best university systems, with outstanding programmes in virtually all fields. At the undergraduate level, excellent programmes exist in traditional disciplines as well as in professional fields. At the graduate level, students often have the opportunity to work directly with some of the finest minds in the world. Degrees are recognised throughout the world for their excellence.

Regarding parent’s concern, she said their concern is natural about their children leaving home and travelling far away, but allowing your child to study in the United States will help them mature and become responsible adults.

Universities are very particular about campus safety and have special security professionals assigned for this purpose. International students are given safety information during orientation and can call the campus security help line at any time. Most colleges provide students opportunities to mix with other international and local students through activity clubs, fraternities and cultural associations. These experiences and interactions help them adjust to the new environment.

She repeatedly stated that USEFP role is absolutely neutral in all respect and its working is totally merit-based. “We encourage students of remote and far-flung areas of Pakistan to come forwarded and apply for the study scholarships in US. Students of public sector academic institutions are encouraged and they should not under estimate themselves as USEFP’s selection and examination criteria is purely transparent and merit-based and have no discrimination with the academic   institutions of elite class and having big names,” she added.

She said anyone willing in obtaining higher education in USA should visit our website and look at the information there, because the process really is not that difficult.

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