Mathew Washburn, Programme Officer, Education USA Department of State, has urged Nigeria students to explore the department’s education Opportunity Funds Programme (OFP) to advance their studies in America.
Washburn spoke at the Foreign Press Centre International Reporting Tour of the U.S. Community Colleges and Workforce Development programme in Washington D.C.
The tour was organised by the Foreign Press Centre, Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State, to provide foreign journalists information on opportunities available to foreign students in community colleges in the U.S.
He said that the U.S. Government annually earmarked specific funds to support high qualified students from underserved communities in different countries through OFP.
“The OFP is run by Education USA, it is really an amazing programme, it is in Nigeria and many other countries around sub-Saharan African countries as well.
“Every year Education USA contributes about 700,000 dollars to support students from 50 countries, including Nigeria, that are ready to study in the U.S,” he said.
According to him, OFP is to promote U.S State Department’s objectives of broadening outreach to youths and underserved audiences, advancing mutual understanding and supporting social inclusion.
He said that there were many determined and talented, low-income students who only required financial resources and access to information to better their educational future.
He said that Education USA through the U.S. Embassy in host countries, sought to identify academically qualified and highly motivated, low-income students to join the EducationUSA OFP.
“OFP’s mission is to assist talented and determined, low-income students who are good candidates for financial assistance from the U.S. colleges and universities but lack the financial resources to cover the up-front cost of obtaining admission.
OFP works closely with students through regularly scheduled meetings and seminars to assist them throughout the application process to secure admission and scholarships to attend colleges and universities in the United States,” he said.
He said the U..S. was willing to admit Nigerian students to its more than 1,000 community colleges across America.
Community college offers unique opportunity for students to receive educational training and skills in the U,S. to developing specific skills that would help them to get jobs after graduation, he said.
Washburn explained that “Community colleges are two-year schools that provide affordable post-secondary education and are often a path to a four-year degree.
“It is not well known internationally, it offers amazing opportunities in education and skills training. It offers programmes that help students’ transition to a four-year college or university.”
Washburn said that the U.S. was committed to expanding job-driven training at community colleges nationwide.
He said community colleges had a wide range of faculty choices, along with a good quality of education and a world-class recognition for students.