ISLAMABAD - The United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) has announced that the 2015 competition for Fulbright Master's and PhD scholarships is now open.

The US Government's flagship scholarship programme enables deserving Pakistanis to complete Master's or PhD degrees, in a field of their choice, in universities across the United States. These scholarships are merit-based and cover tuition, textbooks, airfare, stipend, computer, settling-in allowance and health insurance.

Of the 150 countries in which the Fulbright programme operates, the US-Pakistan Fulbright programme is the largest, with 161 students receiving awards for fully-funded degrees in 2014. A similar number is expected to be selected in 2015. The application deadline for the 2015 competition is May 14.

Kicking off the 2015 Fulbright season, Deputy Cultural Affairs Officer Judith Ravin stated, "The US invests more in Fulbright Pakistan than anywhere else in the world. For 64 years, the Fulbright scholarship programme between the United States and Pakistan has fulfilled the dream of its founder: turning nations into people through educational exchange."

USEFP Executive Director Rita Akhtar encouraged students from all over Pakistan to take advantage of the 2015 Fulbright Programme.

 "We hope to receive applications from graduates of every accredited university in Pakistan," she said.

In addition to the 161 students who depart for the United States in the fall of 2014, 406 students from Pakistan currently study in the United States on Fulbright awards. The Fulbright Scholarship Programme is an example of the long-term commitment by the U.S. government to the education of Pakistanis and to increasing mutual understanding between both countries.

They informed that each year the U.S. government sends more than 700 students to academic exchange programs and another 500 professionals to shorter, work-related programs in the United States. Since the inception of USEFP more than 62 years ago, over 5,000 Pakistanis have gone on USEFP-administered exchange programs to the United States.  The Fulbright Programme is among the 30-plus US-government funded educational, professional, and cultural exchange programs that build people-to-people ties among Americans and Pakistanis.

In all, nearly 3,000 Pakistanis have traveled to the US on USEFP programs since 2005, with another approximately 675 participating in 2014. All USEFP programmes are merit-based. About 43 per cent of existing grantees are women.