Vanderbilt’s efforts to find the globe’s best students, including those in Iraq, was highlighted this week in USA Today and by other news outlets worldwide.
The Iraqi government is launching a new scholarship program to send 10,000 Iraqi students to the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Australia over the next five years. Vanderbilt was one of the schools highlighted in the article, largely because of it was one of the few American universities who answered a call from the Iraqi government to help them rebuild their higher education system earlier this year.
As previously reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Vanderbilt was one 24 American universities (of 250 who were invited) to accept Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s invitation to participate in college recruiting fairs and an evaluation of Iraq’s higher education system in January 2009. The Chronicle reported that the effort, undertaken in partnership with the Academy of Educational Development, was al-Maliki’s first step to rebuild Iraq’s higher education system.
The January trip was part of Vanderbilt’s many efforts to increase the percentage of international students on campus to 7 to 8 percent.
Vanderbilit political scientist Katherine Blue Carroll was one of the experts involved in the initial efforts in Iraq. As reported by the Chronicle:
“I know from experience how hard the American army has worked over here to try to improve the lives of Iraqis, but their days here are now drawing to a close,” said Katherine Blue Carroll, a political scientist from Vanderbilt University, in a telephone interview from Baghdad. “Someone needs to step up to the plate next, and I think American universities should lead the way.”
“The students I met feel like they’ve fallen way behind and are dying to learn and to be part of the world,” she said.
Carroll was embedded in a U.S. combat unit in Iraq an attempt to help military officials make better decisions on the ground by sharing their expertise on local customs and cultures.
According to the recent AED press release,
“In the first phase of the Initiative, Iraq’s Higher Committee for Educational Development will award scholarships to high-achieving Iraqi high school students who have taken required college admission tests. Students will be allowed to study nearly all majors and seek all degrees, including some PhDs. Iraqi students will be especially encouraged to study engineering, education, information technology, business, law and medicine. All scholarship recipients will be expected to return to Iraq after they complete their overseas programs.”
University officials have no firm details at this time on how many Iraqi students will be joining us in Nashville, but expect to have more information this fall. The Iraqi students will go through the same application process as all other potential students.