On both sides of the Atlantic, governments and academia are becoming increasingly vocal about educational “challenges”  – by which they mean both the academic performance of their young people and also their ability to attract foreign students to bring their talents (and usually full tuition payments) to Western institutions of higher learning.

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Roma, a neighborhood in the Hungarian capital of Budapest, may seem a long way from New York’s Harlem, but just as African-Americans in Harlem experienced the effects of discrimination and poverty, “the Roma”– a branch of the Romani people (also known as gypsies) -- who are concentrated in the Budapest area known as Roma suffer from similar long-standing social stigma, discrimination and injustices.

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The future of higher education, the importance of international education, and transatlantic cooperation on developing educational exchange networks were addressed by Odile Quintin, Director General for Education and Culture at the European Commission and Dr. Allan Goodman, President and CEO of the Institute of International Education, who reviewed policy initiatives aimed at supporting international higher education and how universities are refocusing educational priorities. Both speakers were adamant that international education is crucial for economic recovery and development, and that it will equip the students of today for future success. The growing demands for international experience and the changing nature of the global economy make this topic especially relevant. Participants concurred that international dialogue and transatlantic cooperation are key to making crucial changes in the way students are educated.

UNESCO’s current agenda and the challenges it faces were the focus of a discussion with The Honorable Irina Bokova, Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria to France and Bulgaria’s Permanent Delegate to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Ambassador Bokova, who is a candidate for the position of Director General of UNESCO, also offered her vision for the organization moving forward. Participants included Donna Roginski, Deputy Assistant Secretary (Acting), Bureau of International Organizations, U.S. Department of State;  Phil English, Member, U.S. National Commission for UNESCO; and Ambassador Louise Oliver, Former U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO.

Sciences Po (officially L’Institut des Etudes Politiques) has a unique place in higher education in France. It offers a more advanced, intensive program than other French universities, but is less demanding and easier on admissions than the “grandes écoles” (the specialized, elite schools at the pinnacle of France’s educational system). Its alumni include numerous French political leaders, including the three most recent presidents of France. Sciences Po graduates also head many of France’s largest companies. Its enrollment is currently 6,700 (including 2,200 foreign students).

 

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