Dean Aelion Attends International Education Conference in Cuba

University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences Dean Marjorie Aelion

Dean Marjorie Aelion

February 8, 2018

Marjorie Aelion, Dean of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, and Stacy Lutsch and Cristina Sosa from International Programs are part of an Institute of International Education (IIE) delegation that attended the Congreso Universidad Cuban International Education Conference in Havana from Feb. 11-17.

At the Congreso Universidad, U.S. representatives met with their Cuban counterparts, opening opportunities for future academic partnerships and student exchanges between the two nations. IIE’s International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP) led the delegation.

“This is a critical moment for academic cooperation between the United States and Cuba,” said Clare Overmann, head of higher education initiatives at IIE. “We firmly believe in the opportunity to expand bilateral exchange. This delegation aims to foster and explore those opportunities for academic partnership, as well as demonstrate the importance of international academic collaboration despite challenges.”

Since current restrictions limit options for individual travel to Cuba from the United States, the IAPP delegation represented an opportunity to foster educational exchanges and partnerships between the two countries. Moreover, the Congreso Universidad allowed representatives of U.S. universities to connect with their counterparts in remote or difficult to access regions of Cuba.

Other participating U.S. institutions were College of Coastal Georgia, Columbia University, Indiana University, Northern Kentucky University, Rutgers University, University of Tampa, University of Arizona, University of California, San Diego, and the University of Richmond.

According to the most recent available data, 3,781 U.S. students studied in Cuba in 2015-16, up from 1,454 in 2011-12. In 2015-16, Cuba became one of the top 25 destinations for study abroad for the first time, moving to 18th from 28th on the list of most popular study abroad destinations among U.S. students, according to IIE.

The Cuban Ministry of Higher Education hosted the Congreso Universidad, inviting delegations from Latin America and the world to meet with higher education officials from Cuba.