AUSTIN, Texas — To connect students from Saudi Arabia with Texas community colleges, the College of Liberal Arts’ newly created Global Initiative for Education and Leadership is co-hosting an open house for admissions officers and education officials from the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM) on Oct. 10 at the Alhambra-U.S. Chamber of Commerce offices near The University of Texas at Austin campus.
Founded by UTeach-Liberal Arts, the global initiative is a consortium that promotes educational and leadership training abroad. In collaboration with the Austin-based Alhambra-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, representatives from UTeach-Liberal Arts met with education and policy leaders in Saudi Arabia to build relationships with education and policymakers last spring.
The global initiative, led by Richard Flores, senior associate dean of academic affairs for the College of Liberal Arts, is building upon those new partnerships and aims to match Texas community colleges with SACM, a Washington, D.C.-based branch of the Saudi Arabian Embassy that oversees the educational and cultural needs of Saudis studying in the United States.
At the event, SACM officials aim to place more than 8,000 fully funded and sponsored Saudi students in two-year community colleges.
“Studying abroad isn’t only about strengthening students academically and professionally,” says Flores, who directs the UTeach-Liberal Arts program. “It builds relationships, understanding and knowledge of the wider world that students carry with them for the rest of their life. Recent events underline how much our world needs this kind of understanding. This open house isn’t just about the bottom line for Texas educational institutions. It’s about investing in a better world for tomorrow.”
In 2010 Saudi Arabia was the seventh largest source of international students in the United States. Amid the economic downturn, the number of U.S.-bound international students has dwindled, yet Saudi Arabia has been a notable exception. As a result of active efforts by the SACM, their enrollment jumped 25 percent between 2009 and 2010, providing a welcome source of revenue for educational institutions nationwide.
“Through this event, the Global Initiative for Education and Leadership hopes to strengthen international education and serve higher education in Texas by bringing together supply and demand,” says Anjum Malik, managing partner of the Alhambra-U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
This year, the global initiative has collaborated with several partners on educational outreach delegations to North Africa, Guatemala and the Middle East. Partners include the Alhambra-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Aspen Institute’s Partners for a New Beginning program, as well as the university’s UTeach-Liberal Arts program, Human Dimensions of Organizations and the IC2 Institute.