New US ambassador keen to strengthen education ties
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
RECENTLY-APPOINTED United States ambassador Craig Allen said he is keen to deepen cultural and educational ties with Brunei.
Speaking to media recently, the envoy encouraged more research collaboration between American and Bruneian varsities.
“Academic-to-academic exchanges are really useful. UBD (Universiti Brunei Darussalam) has a number of agreements with American universities, and we want to give them the strength and capabilities to get more professors back and forth,” he said.
With about 130 Bruneians studying in the US, the ambassador said he was confident the number would grow in the coming years.
“We have a very large university sector with some 3,000 accredited colleges in all different areas and we would welcome more Bruneian students… The area that seems to be the most popular is the engineering and technical fields.”
The embassy’s education advisor has also been active in visiting local secondary schools, to spark interest in pursuing higher education in America and increase familiarity with the US education system.
According to a previous report, the number of locals applying for US student visas has doubled since 2009, with over 200 Bruneians attending US universities since the 1980s.
Allen added that there have also been several American students who have come to Brunei to study.
“Those American students we’ve had in Brunei have been very pleased academically and socially. So hopefully we’ll see an increase.”
In terms of cultural engagement, the Obama administration has also turned its focus to youth engagement in Southeast Asia with the launching of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), a professional development exchange programme for community leaders from ASEAN, in 2013.
“So far close to 200 young Bruneians have signed up to receive information about YSEALI and over 30 have participated in events throughout the region,” the ambassador said.
The Brunei Times