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First Iraqi Fulbright Students and Scholars in 14 Years Come to the United States

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Washington, DC
January 23, 2004

Montage of diploma and mortarboard, Fulbright logo with wording U.S.-Iraq Fulbright Program, and map of Iraq. January 23, 2004.

Flag of Iraq. 2003. 2004 IRAQI FULBRIGHTERS

  • The first group of Iraqi Fulbrighters is comprised of 25 Iraqi students and scholars,19 men and 6 women.
  • The Fulbrighters come from cities throughout Iraq.
  • The students will take Master's level coursework in Public Health, Public Administration, Business, Journalism, Law, and English teaching and other fields.

The Program for the Iraqi Fulbrighters

The arrival of 25 Iraqi Fulbrighters represents the formal resumption of the U.S. Fulbright program with Iraq. After a brief initial stay in Washington D.C., the students will take part in pre-academic programs at four U.S. universities: Indiana University, University of Oregon, University of California-Santa Cruz, and the University of Arizona. In the Summer and Fall of 2004, the students will go to universities around the country where they will be enrolled in one to two-year Master's programs.

Iraqis also will be able to compete for two other Fulbright exchange programs in 2004; the Foreign Language Teaching Assistant and the Fulbright American Studies Institutes programs.

Higher Education in Iraq

There are 22 universities in Iraq, including Kirkuk University, which was established in January of 2003, and 42 technical institutes. About 350,000 students are enrolled in Iraq's higher education system. Iraqi university presidents, deans, and professors complain of having been cut off from the outside world. Faculty and students have been isolated from the progress, discoveries, and technological advances that have taken place in the academic research world abroad. The Fulbright Program was reestablished to help reconnect Iraq to U.S. resources.

Selection Process

  • After the announcement of the resumption of the Fulbright program in October 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and Iraqi universities mounted an active campaign to notify Iraqi students of the Fulbright opportunity and the program's high academic standards.
  • Nationwide, 379 Iraqi students applied and took the English language (TOEFL) exam in November.
  • The TOEFL exams were administered by CPA in 6 locations: Mosul, Sulaymaniyah, Arbil, Baghdad, Najaf and Basra.
  • Fulbright applicants were reviewed by two bi-national review panels composed of Iraqis and Americans. The Iraqis on the selection committees were university presidents and Ministry of Education officials. Final selection was made in December by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

About the Fulbright Program

The Fulbright Program--America's flagship international educational exchange program--is sponsored by the United States Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. For fifty-seven years, Fulbright Programs have exchanged over a quarter of a million people -- 96,400 Americans and 158,600 individuals from other countries who have engaged in study, teaching, and research in the U.S. The Fulbright Program focuses on the impact individuals can have in every area of endeavor and our bilateral relations, operating in more than 150 countries worldwide.

Fulbright award recipients are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement and because they have demonstrated extraordinary leadership potential in their fields. Among the thousands of prominent Fulbright alumni are: Tom Cole, U.S. Congressman; Renee Fleming, opera singer; John Lithgow, actor; Robert Shaye, Founder and Chairman, New Line Cinema; Javier Solana, Foreign Policy Chief, European Union; Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in Economics; and Muhammed Yunus, economist and Founder of the Grameen Bank.


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