by Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, President & CEO, Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI)
At the invitation of the Embassy of France in Washington, D.C., I had the pleasure of attending The Bilateral Seminar on The Transatlantic Friendship and Mobility Initiative, on May 14-15, 2018. I was joined by my AACRAO colleagues, Melanie Gottlieb and Julia Funaki, and fellow AACRAO IESC (International Education Standards Council) member, Robert Watkins from the University of Texas, Austin.
The Seminar was appropriately timed with the 70th Anniversary of the Franco-American Fulbright Commission (officially, the Commission franco-américaine d’échanges universitaires et culturels), a bi-national commission established between the United States of American and the French Republic by the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961 (P.L. 87-256) and the Franco-American Treaty of May 7, 1965. The Commission administers the Fulbright Program in France and operates the US State Department’s EducationUSA advising center for France. Those in attendance included representatives from the various branches of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MESRI), officials from the French Embassy and French Consular Officers in the U.S., University Vice-Presidents from French institutions, representatives from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education.
From the onset, we learned that France is investing heavily in upgrading its university system and is aiming to position itself on the cutting edge of research and innovation. In his opening remarks, Frédéric Forest, Ph.D., the Deputy Director, Directorate General for Higher Education and Professional Integration at the MESRI, spoke of the importance the French President, Emmanuel Macron is placing on science and technology. He noted that France is investing massively in its higher education. It’s worth noting that in 2018, the French government spent roughly 72 billion euros for education; the second highest ranking expenditure on the budget after tax repayment and abatement and before defense.
Reforms also include access to higher education and reinforcing student mobility. France is committed to double the number of U.S. students studying at its HEIs and the same to have its students attending U.S. HEIs. Dr. Forest concluded that France and the U.S. Department of State signed a declaration supporting these bilateral initiatives that encourage student mobility between the two countries.
Read Saidi-Kuehnert's blog for more highlights, including Seminar goals and success stories.
Read the full AICE report here.