Grants to bring 71 Vietnamese students to U.S.

Scholars seek doctorates at top American colleges

April 14, 2004|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

HANOI, Vietnam - U.S. and Vietnamese officials announced scholarships yesterday for 71 Vietnamese students to study in the United States next year as part of a program to improve the quality of scientific education and research in Vietnam.

The students - all pursuing doctoral degrees - have been admitted to some of the top U.S. universities, including Stanford, Brown, Princeton, Carnegie-Mellon and MIT.

Their schooling will be paid for out of the $5 million that the United States contributes annually to the Vietnam Education Foundation.

"These are 71 tremendous ambassadors to strengthen the relationship between Vietnam and the United States," said Democratic Rep. George Miller of California, who played a key role in shepherding the program through the U.S. Congress.

Miller was in Hanoi this week to meet the new scholars and confer with the Vietnamese officials and scientists about establishing "centers of excellence" to boost teaching and research.

The centers also are intended to draw the scholars back from the United States, offering them an appealing place to work. The World Bank would fund the centers, and a team of international scientists would oversee the process of setting them up.

This is the second year that VEF fellows have been selected. The first 19, selected last year, are studying in the United States.

At a news conference yesterday to introduce next year's scholars, U.S. Ambassador Raymond F. Burghardt said that the United States provides nearly $10 million a year to fund exchange programs between the United States and Vietnam. Half the money supports the VEF program, and half finances Fulbright scholarships in Vietnam.

"That's the largest amount of money that the United States government spends on educational exchange programs anywhere in the world," Burghardt said.

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