Academic Exchanges — Advocacy, Promotion, and Opportunities.
International student exchange and scholarship programs are effective ways of opening the doors to new education opportunities and can help build bridges of understanding among students from a diversity of countries. However, this potential is not exploited to the full. In particular, exchanges between North and South are still limited, with few students from the developing world taking up study programs in Europe and the US and even fewer students from the North studying in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
In close collaboration with exchange programs administrators and education officials in the US, the EU and the OIC, the UN Alliance of Civilizations is developing a dialogue on expanding exchange programs in order to increase the number of students and faculty/researchers benefiting from opportunities to study abroad. Building on successful programs such as Erasmus (EU), Fulbright (US) and Chevening (UK), the objective is to increase the flow of students and faculty/researchers through exchange and scholarship programs.
The UNAOC seeks to bring together institutions and organizations from around the world to explore obstacles and opportunities in expanding exchange programs. The 2009 Istanbul Forum saw the creation of an embryonic network which will work out the best ways for advocacy of academic exchanges, and dissemination of opportunities. See the Istanbul Forum Report , pp. 96-97.
Currently, we are working with several international partners to promote and network providers of student and faculty/researcher exchanges. Among these partners are the Institute of International Education, AFS International, Soliya, and Abraham’s Path. We are also researching disparities of educational exchanges, based on data from the Institute of International Education and the UNESCO Institute of Statistics.
Future plans in this area include preparing a report with partners from around the world on exchange programs in three educational areas – high school, university, and faculty/researcher levels – to generate policy recommendations to enhance and promote exchanges, and engage with Group of Friends countries who emphasize exchanges in their national strategies for cross-cultural lifelong learning.
A first step in this effort was launched with a discussion, co-organized with AFS Intercultural Programs and the Institute of International Education, on recommendations to enhance exchanges at the third Forum of the UNAOC in Rio De Janeiro, May 27-29, 2010. The discussion also saw the presentation of an innovative exchange program by the German government focusing on Arts professionals.