June 2015 Education Update from U.S. Embassy Mexico City

By Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, Public Affairs Officer

Dear colleagues:

I know that many of you are heading into your well-deserved summer holidays, but just wanted to send a short note from Mexico City to wish you all a happy and restful vacation period.  In the meantime, here are a few education-related headlines from our part of the world.


The work of the FOBESII Working Groups continue with each of the four groups meeting on a regular basis to ensure forward momentum on our shared Action Plan.  We hope to have a meeting of all of the co-chairs later this month to evaluate our progress.

As you all may be aware, a drop in oil prices and a weakening of the peso has resulted in budgetary reductions on the part of the Government of Mexico, including for what is available for educational exchange.  That said, our GOM partners remain committed to sending as many Mexican students and teachers to the U.S. this summer as they can.  The federal government is funding the travel of 1800 students/teachers this summer, and they hope to send more in the fall.  Meanwhile, we are hearing that certain state governors and the Mexico City mayor are also putting money into educational exchange with the United States.  That is why we encourage you all to visit states outside of Mexico City when you travel south of the border, as well as to enlist the support of the private sector in helping to fund scholarships, language programs, and internships.

New Cultural and Educational Affairs Officer Arrives

I am delighted to introduce our new Education and Cultural Affairs Officer, Rebecca Thompson, who arrived at post a month ago.  She has a long career in Public Affairs, having served in the Philippines, El Salvador, and several tours at the Department of State.  Rebecca will take on leadership of several of our education initiatives, including the position of U.S. co-chair of the FOBESII working group on Academic Mobility.

Please feel free to contact her at ThompsonRB@state.gov

NAFSA 2015 Another Success

Partners of the Americas and the Department's 100K Strong in the Americas office held a second pre-NAFSA conference capacity building workshop on Sunday, May 24.  Since its launching, the 100K Strong innovation fund has held six competitions and we are proud that Mexico tops the list of winning proposals among the foreign country institutions.  The workshop provided an opportunity to hear successful stories and lessons learned from institutions that have been successful in submitting proposals.  Round 7 will soon be announced and we ask that both U.S. and Mexican universities remain attentive as we are seeking to remain as the number one country.  If you are still not part of the 100K innovation network, please join here to make sure you receive timely notifications of future calls for proposals.

The pre-conference panel hosted by NAFSA on Latin America attracted such a large number of participants that it was really standing-room only. We suspect that many were eager to learn more about the Government of Mexico’s next steps regarding its Proyecta 100,000 initiative from its Director, Dr. Martha Navarro, who recently moved to become the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Director for Scientific and Technical Cooperation.  Please note that Fernanda López is now the general coordinator of Proyecta 100,000.. For those interested in staying on top of future calls under this initiative as well as other scholarship programs please visit : http://mex-eua.sre.gob.mx/

Mexico was present at NAFSA with 28 universities in the Mexican Pavilion, as well as AMPEI (Asociación Mexicana para la Educación Internacional), CUMEX (Consorcio de Univiersidades Mexicanas which represents 29 public higher education institutions), AMEXCID, CONACYT, PROMEXICO and the U.S. Embassy in Mexico. The Pavilion was organized by ANUIES (Asociación Nacional de Universidades e Instituciones de Educación Superior).  Their Secretary General, Mr. Jaime Valls, and the Mexican Consul in Boston cut the inaugural ribbon. 

During NAFSA, the Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration (CONAHEC) signed agreements with CUMEX and ANUIES to provide increased academic exchange opportunities among its respective members. 

The Popular Autonomous University of the State of Puebla (UPAEP) was once again the kind sponsor and host of the Mexican fiesta that is increasingly becoming a must at NAFSA.  Our Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange Robin Lerner represented the USG at the event and give brief remarks emphasizing the importance of the U.S.-Mexican academic relationship. 

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico was proud to support this important effort.  We have already begun to examine how we canl work closely with ANUIES and the GOM to ensure that our presence at NAFSA in Denver in 2016 is as successful.   We welcome any ideas/reports that you may have on NAFSA 2015 or NAFSA 2106.

Thought you might also appreciate this article from the American Councils for Higher Education on Five Key Takeaways from #NAFSA15.

Energy Education Meeting

With collaboration in the energy sector and academic mobility at the top of our binational policy priorities, greater cooperation in the area of energy education is a natural part of our FOBESII work.  The U.S. Embassy took advantage of an Energy and Human Capital Roundtable, hosted by the Inter-American Dialogue in Mexico City on April 28, to bring together almost 40 partners from both sides of the border to discuss ways in which we could collaborate in developing a regional workforce for the energy sector.  While we wait for the results of a report commissioned by the Mexican Ministry of Energy (SENER) on the state of the energy workforce in Mexico (due out in July), the group was able to identify seven possible areas for bilateral cooperation.   They are:

  • Joint Industry Certification Pilot Program: Currently there exists a number of industry certified programs (welding, oil rig operation, winching, well control, etc.) that are taught at the vocational level in the U.S. which might serve as the basis for joint-industry certified programs at Mexican schools.
  • Retraining of Engineers: We discussed U.S. community college programs that are designed to retrain engineers and technicians so they can fill new job openings and how similar programs might be introduced into Mexico.
  • Sharing Best Practices: The public and private education sectors and the U.S. and Mexican governments are engaging in numerous energy education programs. This option looks at posting education program “best practices” on SENER’s website for the public to reference as successful programs.
  • Exploration of Possible Dual Degree Programs in Energy Fields: These programs will allow for U.S. and Mexican institutions to offer degrees that are partnered between the two countries. As a student graduates from their institutional program in their home country, they will earn a U.S. degree as well as Mexican degree in their field of expertise.
  • Greater communication between partners:  We proposed some kind of quarterly meeting, whether virtual or in person, by which we could share information and programs.  This would help us know more about things such as SENER’s grants opportunities that could be of interest to U.S. partners, as well as U.S. international education programs.
  • Pilot Program to Exchange Faculty and Engineers: We discussed the possibility of creating a pilot program between two universities, one on each side of the border, to exchange faculty and research engineers.
  • Project/progress Tracker: With programs and projects spanning both sides of the border, State will create a project tracker that the group will reference for projects, and provides quarterly updates. It will also house all contact information for those involved.

Please let us know if you have any interest in participating in these efforts or any best practices/programs we can share in the tracker.

Clarification on our Travel Advisory

My March 2015 update erroneously reported that “there is NO travel warning for multiple states around Mexico.”  Consular colleagues have reminded me that it is more accurate to say that the Travel Warning for Mexico (which applies to the full country) is uniquely detailed and includes state-by-state assessments that provide information on security conditions in specific regions of Mexico.  Please let me know if you need any further clarification on this issue as you work with your institutions to bring more American students to Mexico.

Focus on Internships

As many of you already know, our two governments signed an MOU in January pledging to increase the number of cross-border internships.  In order to advance these goals, a delegation of 19 U.S. J-1 internship program sponsors visited Mexico City and Puebla in May, accompanied by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange Robin Lerner and members of her team.  Our Mexican government partners provided invaluable support in setting up a series of very useful meetings designed to create networking opportunities for these partners, as well as to educate both sides about how the programs work and the ways in which they might be expanded in Mexico.

The organizations that traveled to Mexico cover a wide array of internship opportunities.  They met with diverse Mexican partners such as the Conference of Governors, the Ministry of Energy, and CONACYT, opening up possibilities of cooperation on a larger scale, and with support for state and federal entities.  The group met with about 75 Mexican university representatives in Mexico City and another 130 in Puebla, providing important information exchange and exchanging business cards. Those networking meetings were highly successful for both sides.

If you are interested in learning more about how to send your students on internship programs in Mexico, or how to receive Mexican interns, please visit this website or let me know.

Generation Study Abroad

Generation Study Abroad is an IIE initiative, launched in 2014, to double the number of US students studying abroad by 2020 through the concerted efforts of US high school teachers and over 450 HEIs and government agencies in the US and around the world.  Detail on the partners, the aims of the program and how to participate can be seen here:  http://www.iie.org/Programs/Generation-Study-Abroad

Education USA Update

Capacity Building Workshops

EducationUSA and COMEXUS continue to host a series of capacity building workshops for the Mexican higher education community - 4 capacity building workshops, held in Xalapa (Veracruz) and Mazatlán (Sinaloa) took place earlier in May with participation from 110 local HEI and government officials. Among the presenters, we included experienced Mexican HEI officials and U.S.-based organizations such as AASCU and IIE, as well as updates from the U.S. Embassy and Consulates and our colleagues at the U.S. Department of State. Participation of local and U.S.-based HEIs who have been 100,000 Strong Innovation Funds winners as well as Proyecta 100,000 participating institutions was considered a highlight in all workshops. We still have the following capacity building workshops coming up:

August 3-7, 2015 - Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas

October 5-9, 2015 - Tijuana, Baja California

December 7-11, 2015 - Querétaro, Querétaro

We welcome as many of you to join us as presenters and trainers in the upcoming workshops. Please, be in touch with Maria Mercedes Salmon at mmsalmon@educationusa.info for further information.

Fall U.S.-Mexico Academic Mobility Fair

Join us for the 2nd edition of the U.S.-Mexico Academic Mobility Fair this fall - This year¹s U.S-Mexico Academic Mobility fair will be hosted in two segments: Central and Southern Mexico in Fall 2015 and Central and Northern Mexico in Spring 2016. This fall¹s circuit will take U.S.-based higher education institutions to:

Mexico City (August 31)

Puebla (September 1)

Aguascalientes (September 2)

Guanajuato (September 3)

Oaxaca (September 5)

Mérida (September 7)

Veracruz (September 9)

Querétaro (September 11)

Pre-registration is now open! Please, click here for further details.

COMEXUS (Fulbright-Garcia Robles Commission) Update

The Fulbright-Garcia Robles Programs are important tools in our efforts to increase academic exchange between Mexico and the United States, particularly in regards to faculty exchange which is always of interest to universities seeking to increase their partnerships with Mexico.  Please find below the most recent information on faculty exchange. 

Please also visit the COMEXUS site for information on all of our many programs for U.S. students.  We count on you to share these opportunities with your study-abroad office.

Finally there are many, many opportunities for Mexican students and researchers, so please do help us get the word out to those Mexican universities with whom you are working.

Fulbright Specialists Program

The Fulbright Specialists Program was developed to provide short-term Fulbright grants of two to six weeks to qualified U.S. scholars. The program goals are to increase the number of U.S. scholars in Fulbright academic exchanges and to promote increased connections between U.S. and Mexican universities or institutions.

Any interested specialist from the US must register on-line with CIES to become part of the official roster. Please see the web site for more details.

POC: Jackal Tanelorn (jackal.tanelorn@comexus.org.mx)

Fulbright-García Robles U.S. Scholars - Global TEFL

The Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Program is designed to meet current English teaching needs in all levels of the educational system within Mexico. This program offers many opportunities to senior level TEFL specialists for involvement in strengthening or creating programs at the B.A. and M.A. levels to train teachers. This award specifically supports faculty and program development, not the teaching of English, so applicants should have teacher training and curriculum development experience.  Target audience are experienced TEFL Professors.

Open until  August 1, 2015. 

POC: Timothy McBride (timothy.mcbride@comexus.org.mx)

Fulbright-García Robles U.S. Scholars – All Disciplines

This award allows U.S. Scholars to lecture, conduct research and gain academic experience (postdocs) in a wide variety of fields in a Mexican academic or research institution from 3 to 9 months. COMEXUS is particularly interested in projects on Mexican culture, economy, society and politics to deepen the understanding of Mexico in the United States.  Target audience are

U.S. professors holding a PhD.

Open until  August 1, 2015

POC: Jackal Tanelorn (jackal.tanelorn@comexus.org.mx)

Fulbright-García Robles U.S. Scholars – Border Program

The border designation of this award refers to geography as well as focus: the goal of the Border Program is to enhance linkages and collaborative work between US and Mexican academic institutions and scholars in the border regions. Grantees live at home and commute to Mexico a minimum of one to two times per month to engage in research, teaching, or both. At least 8 work days per month should be spent in Mexico.  Target audience are U.S. professors holding a PhD, and that hail from a U.S.-Mexico border state university.

Open until August 1, 2015.

POC: Jackal Tanelorn (jackal.tanelorn@comexus.org.mx)

Fulbright-García Robles U.S. Scholars – Carlos Rico Award for North American Studies

This award allows U.S. Scholars to work on issues of relevance to the special trilateral relationship among the U.S., Mexico and Canada, created by shared borders and accelerated by the NAFTA agreement. Grantees may teach, engage in collaborative research or combine both activities in grantee's area of specialization. Projects across a broad range of disciplines as well as those with an interdisciplinary focus are welcomed. Proposals should reflect topics that would benefit from a trilateral perspective and clearly demonstrate a need to spend time in both Mexico and Canada. Target audience are  U.S. professors holding a PhD.

Open until August 1, 2015

POC: Jackal Tanelorn (jackal.tanelorn@comexus.org.mx)

Fulbright-García Robles U.S. Scholars – U.S. Studies

A U.S. Scholar will teach a course in U.S. Studies at ITAM for one academic semester.  The course is to be taught in English.  Courses that focus specifically on US foreign policy, US government and politics, political science and the US electoral process are preferred. Additional areas of interest include US national security and US natural resource management, policy and law.  Target audience are  U.S. professors holding a PhD.

Open until August 1, 2015

POC: Jackal Tanelorn (jackal.tanelorn@comexus.org.mx)

Interesting Reading

Thought you might enjoy this article written by a U.S. university student, responding to questions around issue of brain drain from Mexico: Student blog: Brain drain or brain circulation? Mexico in focus.

Also please click here to read an ACE briefing about joint and dual degrees, an area of focus in our US-Mexico bilateral exchange.

As always, I look forward to any feedback you  may have on any of these issues, as well as updates on any and all of your good work in bringing Mexican and US students, faculty, and researchers closer together.  Feel free to send me anything that you think would be of wide interest, and I can include it in the subsequent updates.

Again, please let me know if there is anyone else who might be interested in receiving these updates.  Also, please feel free to let me know if you would prefer to be taken off the distro list for these regular updates.

Warm regards,

Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath

Ministra Consejera para Diplomacia Pública/Public Affairs Officer

Embajada de los Estados Unidos en México / U.S. Embassy México, D.F.

( (55) 50802964 |  *  syptak-ramnathsf@state.gov