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There’s a free way to study in ‘land of the free’ 

May 3, 2017

Digital Reporter

Cover art Erka Capili Inciong

IN THE PHILIPPINES, where education is of a great value, embarking on an educational journey abroad has always been among the biggest dreams of many Filipinos. Aside from academic gains, studying overseas also allows students to travel to new places, meet new people, and experience different cultures.

Among the countries where Filipinos dream of studying is the United States. Why not? After all, it is home to some of the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities like Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, and Stanford University, to name a few.

But taking a study trip to what is called the “land of the free” is expensive. Oftentimes, only those who come from affluent families get the chance to have this inimitable experience.

In a bid to provide Filipinos with the opportunity to study in the U.S., the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) renewed its partnership with Philippine‑American Educational Foundation (PAEF) for the continuation of the Fulbright‑CHED Scholarships program.

Established in September last year, the program allows qualified faculty and staff from colleges and universities across the country to pursue master’s and doctoral studies, including thesis or dissertation research in the U.S.

Selected scholars are given funding to cover their study and living expenses for the whole duration of their course, including round‑trip international travel fare, monthly maintenance allowance, tuition, book/supply allowance, as well as health and accident insurance.

Interested applicants must have at least two years teaching stint in their chosen field of specialization and must be currently employed in a CHED‑authorized school. Those applying for a master’s degree program must not be older than 42 years old while those who opt to pursue a doctoral degree must not exceed the maximum age requirement of 40 years. Doctoral dissertation research applicants must not be over 50 years old.

As part of the grant’s terms and conditions, scholars are required to return and teach in the Philippines upon the attainment of their degree.

During its launch in 2016, a total of 17 scholars were chosen to take their graduate degrees in different fields in the U.S., including entrepreneurship, interior design, socio‑cultural anthropology, agricultural education, fisheries technology, as well as maritime law and policy, among others.

According to CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan, the program does not only enrich the development of Filipino higher education staff but also pays homage to the commitment of the Philippines and the U.S. to develop education in the country.

Photo Commission on Higher Education

“What many schools abroad have [is] longer experience in graduate programs, so it’s really to our advantage that we send people for graduate studies in the US particularly for research‑oriented degrees because schools [in the Philippines] that offer master’s and doctoral programs are not research‑oriented, so we hope to get that kind of shift from this program,” Ms. Licuanan told SparkUp during the renewal of the memorandum of agreement for the program on April 28 at PAEF‑Educational Information and Advising Center in Makati City.

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim was also present during the event to sign the renewed MOA.

In an interview with SparkUp, Mr. Kim assured that the selected Filipino scholars would be safe and secured as they finish their studies in the U.S. amid the concerns among immigrants over President Donald Trump’s staunchly protectionist policy.

“I know that there [have] been a lot of speculations about the environment in economic institutions in the U.S., but I can assure that we remain very open to welcoming students from overseas, including the Philippines,” he said. “There’s absolutely no effort to stop foreign students. American institutions are very careful to make sure [that we] provide an environment that is friendly to foreign students, including those from the Philippines, and I do not expect any change in that.”