Pakistani [students] get mixed signals on Fulbright policies


(AP) — The State Department will temporarily let Pakistani
Fulbright students apply to stay in America for up to 18 months after
their academic programs end so they can pursue internships and other
practical training, following an apparent miscommunication over whether
they were eligible to do so.

Students from most of the 151
countries participating in the Fulbright exchange program can apply for
“academic training” after their degree programs are finished.

about a dozen countries, however — including Nigeria, China and
Afghanistan — program rules require the students to return to their
home countries immediately after finishing their courses.

one of the largest participants in the Fulbright program, is also
supposed to be one of the countries where students must return
immediately after finishing their academic work. But State Department
officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed this week some
Fulbright students may have been told by administrators during their
pre-departure orientation in Pakistan that they could apply to stay.

One official said at least one student had applied to extend his stay and had been accepted.

news caught the State Department by surprise, as did the subsequent
news that Pakistani students were then told two weeks ago they could
not apply after all. Given the confusion, applications from current
Pakistani students for the extra time will be considered, the State
Department said.

Established in 1946, the Fulbright is the U.S.
government’s most prominent educational exchange program, sending
American students, scholars and professionals to countries around the
world and bringing their counterparts to the U.S.

About 1,200
U.S. students and 2,600 foreign students receive the awards each year.
Nearly 2,000 Fulbright scholars, who are no longer students, also
receive awards to study or work abroad.

The Fulbright program in
Pakistan, a key ally of the United States in the Islamic world, has
been significantly expanded in recent years and is among the largest.
Currently, 208 Pakistani Fulbright students are in the U.S.

confusion will likely affect only a handful of people. Only about 120
people, from all countries, are currently part of the extended training
program. Applicants are often denied because the program does not want
students lingering in the U.S. when there is important work awaiting
them in their home countries.

The State Department’s Bureau of
Educational and Cultural Affairs administers the Fulbright program,
along with bi-national Fulbright commissions and U.S. embassies abroad.
The Institute of International Education also assists.

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