US Universities Launch Higher Education Initiative for Burma

By Lalit K Jha 21 November 2012

WASHINGTON — Nine top US universities and colleges have formed an academic partnership to help Burma rebuild its higher education capacity, it was announced on Tuesday in the wake of a historic visit to the country by US President Barack Obama.

Under an initiative launched by the Institute of International Education (IIE), the nine academic institutions will develop institutional partnerships with universities in Burma as part of the IIE’s International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP).

In a statement the IIE said its president and CEO, Allan Goodman, will lead a delegation of US university faculty and administrators to Burma in February 2013. The delegation, scheduled to stay in Burma for a week, will hold public workshops at a number of universities in Rangoon and Mandalay.

The participating US institutions are the American University, Arizona State University, Ball State University, Hawaii Pacific University, Northern Illinois University, Northern Arizona University, Samford University, University of Massachusetts and University of Washington.

The IIE said it has also formed an advisory board consisting of several distinguished experts, including former US charge d’affaires to Burma Priscilla Clapp, who is currently a senior adviser at the New York-based Asia Society.

Also on the board are Suzanne DiMaggio, the vice president of the Asia Society’s Global Policy Programs; Zachary Klim, associate director of Academic Initiatives and Global Programs at New York University; and Robert Rotberg, the former director of the Program on Intrastate Conflict at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

According to the latest annual Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange by IIE, 796 Burmese students studied in the US in the academic year 2010-11, a 14.5 percent increase from the previous year. Fewer than 100 US students studied in Burma in 2009-10, but this is expected to increase as the country continues to open up to the world, it said.