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LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 17, 2024) — University of Kentucky Associate Provost for Internationalization Sue Roberts, Ph.D., recently was selected to participate in the 2024 Fulbright-Nehru International Education Administrators Program to India.

The Fulbright Scholar Program offers over 400 awards in more than 135 countries for U.S. citizens to teach, conduct research and carry out professional projects around the world. College and university faculty, as well as artists and professionals from a wide range of fields, can join over 400,000 Fulbrighters who have come away with enhanced skills, new connections and greater mutual understanding.

This has been Roberts’ third experience with the Fulbright Program. She was a Fulbright Scholar for the 2012-13 academic year at the University of Turku in Finland, and a Fulbright Specialist in 2016 where she spent several weeks working with colleagues at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa.  

While her involvement with the Fulbright Program is not new, Roberts believes the experience in India has been crucial for both her growth personally and for the growth of the university. 

"Since India is home to the second largest group of international students at UK, and since Indian higher education has been going through some major changes lately, I felt I could benefit from knowing more about how the university sector operates in India and what the opportunities for UK might be in this large and important country,” Roberts said.

India is the world’s most populous country with 1.43 billion people. Our planet’s total population today is just over 8 billion, so that means more than one in six people in the whole world live in India. Increasingly, India is harnessing their tremendous pool of educated talent to produce breakthroughs in many tech sectors, and these developments are reverberating across the globe. 

“Ahead of the trip, I hoped I would learn about the rapidly changing national policy environment in India, because they have enacted pretty sweeping deregulation of higher ed, and that has been a disruption that has unleashed a lot of creativity and innovation in the sector,” Roberts said. “I also hoped I would learn from others in the program, and I did. There were 10 university administrators participating, and over the course of our two weeks together we shared our observations and thoughts, and it resulted in a very rich learning experience for us all.”

During the two-week experience, awardees attended various informational meetings with representatives of Indian universities, private-sector agencies and organizations and selected government agencies to gain better insight into India’s higher education system. U.S. administrators had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with program/curriculum designs, organizational structures, quality assurance procedures and credit and degree expectations in Indian higher education. Participants also gained first-hand knowledge of a cross-section of Indian institutions and met with high-ranking university administrators and public sector officials who play key roles in the planning and administration of higher education in India. The seminar aims to achieve a balance of topical discussion, knowledge sharing by both the U.S. administrators and Indian representatives, experiential excursions and exposure to societal/cultural facets of India.

“Indian universities are under pressure to educate more and more students, to produce research and innovation to help fuel continued economic dynamism, and they are actively designing and implementing inventive curricula to spark student learning and creativity. I saw a variety of ways that UK could engage with different institutions in India in mutually beneficial ways,” Roberts said. “For example, there are some universities where we would find great matches for collaboration in health research areas, while there are others that could be amazing hosts for an education abroad program in business, say. There are also ways we could partner with Indian institutions to identify top talent for our master’s and PhD programs in STEM and related areas. And, of course, there is ample scope to collaborate with partners in India through virtual connections – in teaching and in research.”

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program designed to forge lasting connections between people of the United States with those in other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given more than 390,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.