Oct. 7, 2019
Good morning. Thank you, Secretary Ebrard, for convening with us and hosting this colloquium to highlight the continued importance of cooperation on education, research, and innovation – and for all that you do every day to bring the United States and Mexico closer together.
The United States and Mexico are committed to increasing academic collaboration between our countries. Since 2014, we have worked to expand this cooperation through mechanisms like FOBESII – the U.S. Mexico Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research – for which all of you have gathered here today.
It is fantastic and encouraging to see how many representatives of Higher Education Institutions have come from diverse parts of the United States and Mexico to demonstrate the degree to which you share our commitment to the effort. Like both governments, you recognize the importance education and academic cooperation have for students, professors, and researchers, and for both nations more broadly.
Indeed, for all that our governments have done, what academic institutions, the private sector, and foundations have contributed is where the greatest achievements lie. Sixteen U.S. universities have demonstrated their commitment to building productive ties by opening representative offices and even campuses in Mexico.
Just last week alone, my team and I met with delegations from the State of California and the City of San Antonio, each accompanied by many representatives of prestigious universities and colleges. In addition, the University of Arizona and UNAM met with their respective foundations to further their collaboration, and architecture students from the University of Southern California came to the embassy for a briefing.
While this level of activity may be a lot for one week, it is emblematic of the intensity of interest among U.S. institutions to increase the flow of students, academics, and researchers in both directions. Some of those who were here last week are back again for today’s colloquium representing the University of California and Alamo College, among others.
In the spirit of FOBESII, the U.S. government continues to take steps to assist U.S. and Mexican academic communities build ties through programs like the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund grants, which leverages donations from private businesses and foundations to aid cooperation and increase exchanges for students and researchers.
Thanks to the generosity of donors like Coca Cola, SEMPRA, Banorte, and the Mary Street Jenkins Foundation, we plan to open two new grant competitions in the coming months, one this fall and another in the spring, with more to come.
Although this is a hemispheric initiative, these competitions will be open solely to teams of U.S. and Mexican institutions. This should further cement Mexico’s position as the lead participant in these grants, having won over one quarter of the 224 grants issued, in partnerships benefitting 19 Mexican states and 24 U.S. states.
Our governments also continue directly to fund other exchange programs, of course, such as the Fulbright-Garcia Robles scholarships administered by COMEXUS over the past thirty years.
Our bilateral cooperation also includes opportunities for younger students. Together with the Government of Mexico, and with the help of private sector donors, we implement programs like Jóvenes en Acción, which promotes civic engagement for high school students.
The U.S. embassy also runs other exchanges, including summer programs for indigenous students from around Mexico, guided research for STEM students, and English language programs.
In addition, the U.S. government supports a network of 26 Education USA advisors, which assist Mexican students who wish to study in the United States in selecting schools, the admissions process, taking tests, and identifying sources of funding.
The Department of State is encouraged to see that Mexico is one of the top ten sources of foreign students in degree programs in the United States, but wants to see the numbers increase. We likewise want to see more U.S. students and faculty choosing to study, teach, and conduct research in Mexico.
The ties formed by this academic mobility bring us closer as neighbors, give our people greater opportunities to succeed, and create more links that can further trade and investment in both directions.
Mexico and the United States are currently each other’s number one trading partners and invest significantly in each other’s economies, creating jobs on both sides of the border. The passage of the USMCA will create even greater openings to grow our commercial relationship, and educational mobility will enable our workforce to be better prepared to take advantage of those opportunities.
The U.S. and Mexican governments will certainly continue our efforts to deliver on FOBESII’s goals, as shown by our decision to hold this colloquium and reaffirm our commitments.
As I said, however, it is all of you from the higher education institutions and educational communities of both countries who will ultimately determine the extent to which we will all succeed.
Based on what you have accomplished thus far and the high level of attendance we see here, I have no doubt that real progress will not only continue, it will accelerate.
I thank you for your efforts and commitment to these endeavors and wish you a productive colloquium and even more success in the coming years.
¡Felicidades a todos!