US, Bulgaria increase funding for Bulgarian Fulbright Commission

The governments of Bulgaria and the United States have decided to increase funding for the Bulgarian Fulbright Commission, a statement by the US embassy on June 25 said.

The increased financial support will expand opportunities for Bulgarians and Americans to participate in academic exchange programs, including in the sciences, the statement said.

The annual contribution from the Bulgarian side will increase to $182 000 a year, which will allow for more students, PhD students and lecturers to receive support.

The US Department of State will provide an additional $280 000 to the Fulbright Commission over the next three years.  This temporary funding increase will go toward higher stipend rates for Bulgarian and American student grantees.  The State Department annually contributes $600 000 to the Fulbright program in Bulgaria, plus $165 000 in administrative costs, for a total of $765 000.

The statement said that, taken together, these announcements demonstrate a commitment by both governments to the Fulbright Commission and its goal of strengthening bilateral ties and mutual understanding through academic exchange.

Bulgaria’s Minister of Education and Science Krasimir Valchev said: “All Fulbright grantees are expected to return to Bulgaria for a period of at least two years after the completion of their study in the United States to apply their experience, knowledge and skills in their home country. In this way, the Fulbright grantees contribute their grown experience and new practices to improving the quality of education, attracting investments to Bulgaria, and strengthening the ties with the United States.”

US ambassador to Bulgaria Eric Rubin said: “Fulbright is the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world.  These programs are building long-term relationships between American and Bulgarian citizens and institutions.”

Additional funding for the Bulgarian Fulbright Commission comes from US and Bulgarian universities, schools, companies, and NGOs, including the America for Bulgaria Foundation, which pays for 30 Fulbright English Teaching Assistants.

The Fulbright Commission funds more than 60 grantees annually.  That includes approximately 40 Americans coming to Bulgaria: five scholars, five students, three specialists, and 33 English Teaching Assistants.  It also includes from 15-20 Bulgarians traveling to the US: five scholars, five to nine students, and other programs such as Civil Society Researchers and Hubert Humphrey Fellows, the statement said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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