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OPE: Office of Postsecondary Education
Current Section
Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education - Overview of the International Initiatives
Archived Information


FIPSE currently runs four international special focus competitions separately from the Comprehensive Program:

The The European Union-United States Atlantis Program is run cooperatively by FIPSE and the European Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC). Each consortium consists of postsecondary institutions from different member states in the European Union (funded by the EC) and the United States (funded by FIPSE). The program funds joint or dual undergraduate degrees in a wide range of academic and professional disciplines for four years.

The Program for North American Mobility in Higher Education (North American Program - United States, Canada, Mexico) is run cooperatively by the governments of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The program funds collaborative consortia of at least two academic institutions from two or more states or provinces in each country. The funding period is up to four years, with institutions receiving funding from their respective governments. FIPSE funds U.S. institutions while Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) is responsible for funding Canadian institutions and the Secretariat for Public Education (SEP) is responsible for funding Mexican institutions.

The U.S.-Brazil Higher Education Consortia Program (U.S.-Brazil Program) is run cooperatively by the United States and Brazil. This program funds collaborative consortia of at least two academic institutions from each country for four years. The funding period is up to four years, with institutions receiving funding from their respective governments. In Brazil, the Brazilian Ministry of Education is responsible for funding Brazilian institutions and FIPSE funds U.S. institutions.

The United States-Russia Program: Improving Research and Educational Activities in Higher Education is run cooperatively by U.S. Department of Education and the Russian Ministry of Education and Science. The program provides grants that demonstrate partnerships between Russian and American institutions of higher education that contribute to the development and promotion of educational opportunities between the two nations, particularly in the areas of mutual foreign language learning and the cooperative study of mathematics and science.

FIPSE's four international programs represent a first-of-a-kind collaboration among the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education and foreign government agencies to fund and coordinate federal education grant programs. For the period 1995-2004, the EU-U.S. Program, North American Program, and U.S.-Brazil Program have involved over 1,400 institutions in Europe, North America, and Brazil. Through funding from FIPSE and its foreign government counterparts, these programs, from 2001-2004, helped over 3,500 students study in their disciplines and professions in another country, often in a foreign language. Over 9,000 non-mobile students have been impacted by the changes to the curricula at their home institutions that have come about through collaboration among the participating institutions.

These innovative programs address the internationalization of higher education on a number of fronts: multilateral, multi-institutional collaboration; student mobility; mutual recognition of credits and study activities; development of shared and/or common curricula; acquisition of host country languages; development of apprenticeships and other work activities; and faculty and staff cooperation and exchange. Curricular integration impacts both "mobile" students studying abroad and "non-mobile" students studying at their home institutions. FIPSE-supported curricular integration thus internationalizes campus curricula in the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil, as well as in a wide range of academic and professional disciplines.

FIPSE's international programs also reflect innovations in intergovernmental cooperation. EU-U.S. cooperation in education and training was affirmed in the Transatlantic Declaration on U.S./EC Relations adopted in November 1990. From 1995 to 2004, the United States and the European Commission funded 107 consortia involving over 725 U.S. and EC institutions. In December 2000, the United States and the European Union signed a five-year agreement to renew the Cooperation Program in Higher Education and Vocational Education and Training. A new multi-year agreement was negotiated for the EU-U.S. Program that entered in force in 2006. The program funds multi-year, multilateral curriculum and program development projects plus shorter term projects that focus on challenging policy issues in international education.

The Program for North American Mobility in Higher Education was conceived in the spirit of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Program principles are based on recommendations from the 1996 Guadalajara Conference, the 1993 Vancouver Communiqué and the 1992 Wingspread Declaration for strengthened cooperation in higher education, research, and training among the United States, Canada, and Mexico. From 1995 – 1997, the United States, Canada, and Mexico funded 30 consortia, involving approximately 180 U.S., Canadian, and Mexican institutions. The North American Program was not administered between 1998 and 2000 but since 2000, when the program resumed, additional consortia have been funded representing 519 institutions between 1995 and 2005.

The U.S.-Brazil Higher Education Consortia Program reflects a binational collaboration between the United States and Brazil. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which formalized the partnership between the two countries, was signed in 1997. The U.S. executive agency with primary responsibility for implementing this Memorandum is the Department of Education. The U.S. Department of Education and the Brazilian Ministry of Education signed a "Letter of Intent" in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to "establish a binational Higher Education Consortia Program for university partnerships, pursuant to the MOU signed by the U.S. Department of Education and the Brazilian Ministry of Education in October 1997." Since the Program's beginning in 2001, nearly 194 institutions representing 42 consortia have participated.

The U.S.-Russia Program emanates from an historic agreement signed by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Russian Federation Minister of Education and Science on May 31, 2006. The Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries aims to promote understanding between the peoples of the Russian Federation and the United States.

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Last Modified: 09/04/2009