IIE, AASCU Explore Cuba-U.S. Academic Collaborations

NEW YORK, February 29, 2016 — The Institute of International Education (IIE) and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) led the first major delegation of U.S. higher education institutions to the International Congress of Higher Education in Cuba, which took place from February 15 to February 19, 2016. During the conference, representatives led a special workshop about building U.S. – Cuba academic collaborations and partnerships, and operated a first-of-its-kind “U.S. Higher Education” booth to showcase opportunities for collaborating with American colleges and universities.

IIE and AASCU led the delegation of 17 U.S. colleges and universities seeking to increase their partnerships with Cuban institutions and addressing key academic partnership interests and needs. This follows a historic IIE-led U.S. higher education delegation to Cuba in October 2015, the launch of AASCU’s joint task force with the Ministry of Higher Education of Cuba in September 2015, and a series of bi-national conference calls and briefing papers. Further, AASCU led its second presidential mission to Cuba in September 2015. It was the first high level university president delegation since the opening of the Embassies in Havana and Washington, D.C. Both the IIE and AASCU delegations were designed to learn about the Cuban higher education system and explore opportunities for academic collaboration between our two countries.

U.S. and Cuban university representatives engaged in networking, signed letters of intent and continued ongoing conversations about partnership opportunities, priorities and mechanics. While both U.S. and Cuban institutions have expressed interest in expanding partnerships, they will not be without their challenges. Representatives from both countries acknowledged that building mutually-beneficial partnerships will require long-term planning, investing, relationship building and cultural competence.

The delegate institutions who took part in the International Congress of Higher Education were: California State University, Bakersfield; California State University, Long Beach; Central Washington University; College of Staten Island, The City University of New York; Delta State University; Florida Gulf Cost University; Georgia College and State University; Lehman College, The City University of New York; Metropolitan State University of Denver; New Jersey City University; Salisbury University; Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania; Southeast Missouri State University; The State University of New York; The State University of New York at New Paltz; Troy University and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Very few students from Cuba have been able to come to the United States, but a limited number of American students have studied in Cuba despite travel restrictions that have been in place in recent years. IIE’s Open Doors report showed that there were 1,845 students who studied abroad in Cuba for academic credit in 2013/14, up from 1,633 in 2012/13, and the IIEPassport directory currently lists 31 study abroad programs to Cuba.

After the IIE-led visit to Cuba in October 2015, U.S. university representatives shared their impressions and priorities for developing partnerships during an IIE National Conference Call on expanding U.S. – Cuba academic collaboration on on November 17, 2015. The representatives of the U.S. delegate universities said that Cuban higher education officials and administrators had expressed priorities for creating graduate-level and faculty exchanges in fields such as agriculture, water management, environmental studies, energy/renewable energy, and public health, although they noted that they are also open to collaborating in all fields, including the arts and humanities. Like higher education institutions around the world, these priority areas demonstrate a growing emphasis on using international cooperation to address wider global concerns regarding food, water, and energy security, along with protection of the local environment. IIE started the Cuba Higher Education Initiative to learn about the state of higher education in the country and reinvigorate higher education engagement between the U.S. and Cuba in light of the opening of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

About the Institute of International Education

The Institute of International Education (IIE) is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE also conducts policy research and program evaluations, and provides advising and counseling on international education and opportunities abroad. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,400 member institutions.

About the IIE Cuba Higher Education Initiative

IIE’s Cuba Higher Education Initiative includes the International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP), a series of briefing papers, and national conference calls to discuss ways to expand cooperation in higher education between the U.S. and Cuba. IAPP provides U.S. colleges and universities with a guided strategic planning process to expand cooperation with Cuban counterparts. In addition to the delegation to Cuba, IAPP Cuba connects all participants with expert mentors who provide expert advice to participants as they work to achieve their partnership goals.

About the American Association of State Colleges and Universities

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to under-served student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.


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