Search

 

Cablegate: Tunisian Officials Apparently Flexible On Fulbright

VZCZCXYZ0003
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTU #0054 0250901
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 250901Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY TUNIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7192
INFO RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TUNIS 000054

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

FOR ECA, NEA/PPD, AND NEA/MAG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPAO OEXC SCUL TS
SUBJECT: TUNISIAN OFFICIALS APPARENTLY FLEXIBLE ON FULBRIGHT
PROGRAM: NEA DAS WITTES'S VISIT

Sensitive but Unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: The newly-appointed Minister of Higher Education
and the Secretary of State for the Americas told NEA DAS Wittes (in
separate meetings on January 21) that the GOT views the Fulbright
program as being extremely important to Tunisia's development. We
noted an apparent new willingness to see the problems resolved soon;
in particular the officials seemed to recognize the need to expedite
GOT approval for doctoral dissertation research. End summary.

2. (SBU) DAS Wittes raised the Fulbright program during her meeting
with new Minister of Education Bechir Tekkari and his senior
advisors, focusing on the need for expedited coordination between
the American and Tunisian application/approval cycles. Tekkari
remarked that he had no objection to a nine-month application
process. One of the Minister's advisors interjected that American
doctoral candidates should prepare better and not simply send their
applications to Fulbright. He claimed that much of the delay has
been because the Ministry of Higher Education has had to identify
which departments and universities were appropriate for supervising
the research of each applicant. "If students could be in touch with
a Tunisian professor and institution prior to submitting their
application, and if Fulbright were to communicate that to us, we
would be able to save time and meet your deadlines. Let's cooperate
on this; we can both do better," he said.

3. (SBU) DAS Wittes noted that if Embassy officers had easier
access to university campuses and did not have to apply in advance
by diplomatic note for permission to meet with professors, we could
further streamline this process. Minister Tekkari insisted that
diplomatic formalities still needed to be observed, but said that he
would look into ways to alleviate this problem.

4. (SBU) In addition to being positive about resolving the
Fulbright problem, Bechir Tekkari and his staff were uniformly
enthusiastic about expanding general educational cooperation between
the two countries, adding that they see U.S. educational models for
connecting government, research institutions, and the private sector
as particularly relevant for Tunisia. It was clear that they
welcomed expanded university linkages, more English language
programs - particularly in the sciences - and assistance in
upgrading the quality of higher education to enable young Tunisians
to be more competitive in the international arena.

5. (SBU) Saida Chtoui, Secretary of State for Asia and the Americas
at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the GOT placed a premium on
educational exchanges as part of its strategy to develop and
modernize its economy. The GOT would welcome more U.S. students
studying in Tunisia and wanted to see many more Tunisians studying
in the U.S. on exchange programs. Studies in technical fields like
scientific research and medicine were particularly promising, Chtoui
thought. She lamented that "only two or three Tunisians" were
currently studying in the U.S. under the Fulbright program. The DCM
noted that Fulbright exchanges were reciprocal, and DAS Wittes
emphasized that the USG would like to see Fulbright numbers increase
significantly.

6. (SBU) Chtoui allowed that there had recently been technical
problems challenging the bilateral Fulbright program and added that
the "U.S. is providing us with names too late for us to process."
DAS Wittes explained the application process cycle within the U.S.
academic calendar and thought that U.S. universities and Fulbright
administrators ought to be allowed to provide student applications
by January of a given academic year, but not have to submit them 18
months ahead of the commencement of studies, as the GOT had
requested in recent correspondence. Chtoui denied that the GOT was
asking for 18 months but underlined that at least six months advance
processing time would be needed.

7. (SBU) Comment: We read Tekkari's and Chtoui's remarks to
indicate new flexibility and pragmatism on Fulbrights. It remains
to be seen whether this more flexible position will become policy.
End comment.
8. (U) DAS Wittes has cleared this message.

GRAY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN: Decades Of Health Gains At Risk In Brazil Due To COVID-19

Although COVID-19 cases are declining in Brazil, the pandemic is putting decades of public health gains there at risk, the head of the World Health Organization ( WHO ) said on Friday. With global attention and support focused this week ... More>>

UN Report: Myanmar Approaching Point Of Economic Collapse

The turmoil following the military coup in Myanmar, coupled with the impact of COVID-19 could result in up to 25 million people – nearly half of the country’s population, living in poverty by early next year, a United Nations report said on Friday. That ... More>>

World Vision: India’s Second Wave Shows The Global Fight Against COVID-19 Is Far From Won

As India’s COVID-19 daily infection rates reach devastating levels, international aid agency World Vision has warned that the world is nowhere near defeating this virus and some nations are yet to face their worst days. Andrew Morley, World Vision ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

Study: Cut Methane Emissions To Avert Global Temperature Rise

6 May 2021 Methane emissions caused by human activity can be reduced by up to 45 per cent this decade, thus helping to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, according to a UN-backed ... More>>

UN: Learning From COVID-19, Forum To Highlight Critical Role Of Science, Technology And Innovation In Global Challenges

New York, 4 May —To build on the bold innovations in science, technology and innovations that produced life-saving solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN will bring together experts to highlight measures that can broaden the development and deployment ... More>>

What COVID-19 Has Taught Us: “Healthcare Can No Longer Exist Without Technology”

A grandmother in a village in the Gambia should have the same quality of life and access to healthcare they deserve as in New York or London. Photo: InnovaRx Global Health Start-up Works To Bridge Healthcare Gap In The Gambia By: Pavithra Rao As ... More>>