IAPP Concludes Higher Education Delegation to Cuba to Foster Academic Exchange

NEW YORK, March 5, 2018  The Institute of International Education (IIE) led a delegation of U.S. institutions to the biannual Congreso Universidad Cuban International Education Conference in Havana, Cuba from February 11 to 17. At the Congreso Universidad, U.S. representatives met with their Cuban counterparts, creating opportunities for future academic partnerships and student exchanges between the two nations. IIE’s International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP) led the delegation.

“This is a critical moment for academic cooperation between the United States and Cuba,” said Clare Overmann, Head of Higher Education Initiatives at IIE. “We firmly believe in the opportunity to expand bilateral exchange. The delegation explored new avenues for connection across institutions, and demonstrated the importance of international academic collaboration.” 

During the Congreso Universidad, representatives of U.S. universities met with Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg, interim Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuban Vice Minister Aurora Fernandez Gonzalez, and rectors of Cuban universities. IAPP delegation participant Eugene Murphy, Associate Vice President for Global Affairs of Rutgers University, and Clare Overmann both presented on panels during the Congreso Universidad.

U.S. students have demonstrated a growing interest in studying abroad in Cuba in recent years. According to the most recent available data, 3,781 U.S. students studied in Cuba in 2015-2016, up from 1,454 in 2011-12.

In the 2015-2016 academic year, Cuba became one of the top 25 destinations for study abroad for the first time, moving to 18th from 28th on the list of most popular study abroad destinations among U.S. students, according to Open Doors data. A comprehensive data resource compiled by IIE with support from the U.S. Department of State, Open Doors tracks trends in global mobility among students.

The Cuban Ministry of Higher Education (MES) hosts the Congreso Universidad semi-annually, inviting delegations from Latin America and the world to meet with higher education officials from Cuba. IIE first attended the Congreso Universidad in 2014, and was invited to lead the U.S. delegation to the Congreso Universidad in 2015 through IAPP.

The following U.S. institutions participated in the delegation: 

  • College of Coastal Georgia
  • Columbia University
  • Indiana University
  • Northern Kentucky University
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  • University of Tampa
  • University of Arizona
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • University of Richmond

Prior IAPP delegations have led to partnerships and collaborations between institutions in the United States and Cuba, two of which subsequently won awards through the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative. 

IAPP’s work extends beyond Cuba. The program seeks to foster global partnerships between colleges and universities in the United States and the world. Since its inception in 2010, IAPP has led delegations to 11 countries, including Brazil, China, Colombia and others. Institutions interested in participating in future delegations are invited to learn more about opportunities through IAPP on its webpage and by contacting IIE representatives.

About the Institute of International Education (IIE) 
IIE has been a world leader in international education since 1919. IIE works to build more peaceful and equitable societies by advancing scholarship, building economies and promoting access to opportunity. As a not-for-profit with 18 offices and affiliates worldwide, IIE collaborates with a range of corporate, government and foundation partners across the globe to design and manage scholarship, study abroad, workforce training and leadership development programs. 

For more information, contact: Catherine Morris, cmorris@iie.org, +1 (202) 326-7765


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