Good afternoon and thank you for attending this important event. Today is the first time our Embassy is hosting a college fair, and I trust it will be informative and fun for all.
An education at one of the more than 4,000 universities and colleges in the United States is an excellent way to access new opportunities. Young entrepreneurs can learn business management skills, aspiring farmers can learn the best techniques to grow crops in arid environments, and doctors can learn how best to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic. With degrees from the United States, you will be poised to make a difference in your country, whether it’s with new ideas for economic diversification efforts or innovations to address the water shortages. A higher education degree from the United States opens many doors for international students.
Now is one of the best times in history to attend an institution in the U.S. The 2015 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange found that the number of international students at U.S. colleges and universities had the highest rate of growth worldwide in 35 years. During the 2014-2015 academic year, there were almost one million international students in America!
This same report indicated there was a 12.7 percent increase in the number of students from Botswana studying in U.S. colleges and universities during the same period. Almost 50 percent of these students were undergraduates, while 35 percent were at the graduate level, and the remaining 15 percent were students pursuing training and non-degree programs. All of these programs offer tangible benefits and provide a stepping stone for future study or careers.
Today’s college fair is organized by our Embassy’s EducationUSA advising section. EducationUSA advises prospective students on the university admissions process in the United States. It provides accurate, comprehensive information to help students first decide where to study and then how to apply. In the past year alone, the U.S. Embassy’s EducationUSA services reached over 10,000 people throughout Botswana to promote enrolment and provide students the information they need to make smart decisions about their future.
EducationUSA is here to make studying abroad more accessible. We believe exchange programs are critical to help young people meet the challenges of an increasingly global world. Through these programs, you are not only able to invest in your own future, but also in the future of your country.
Events like these see very tangible results. Due in part to the global EducationUSA network, there are now 73 percent more international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities than were reported a decade ago.
Today, we have over twenty universities representing every region of our large and diverse country, and as graduates of these institutions, the people you will meet today are excited to talk to you about their academic experiences and career paths. I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity to learn as much as possible about American college life, the depth of academic opportunities available to international students, and how to start the process now! Thank you, and enjoy the fair!