The following op-ed was published in English in The News on May 8, 2017.
“I want to congratulate all students in Pakistan who have received offers of admission from one of the over 4,500 accredited institutions of higher learning in the US.
Graduates of US universities, including many successful Pakistani students, have gone on to become leaders and innovators in many fields around the world. You should be proud of the invitation to join this special and select group of young people whose lives will be changed forever by the dynamism, openness, and quality of an American education.
Offers of admission are the product of careful thought and hard work – both by the students who apply and by the universities that conduct a rigorous review of these applications. We recognise the energy and creativity that students poured into their essays, the hard work it took to prepare for examinations and their commitment to community service and extracurricular interests.
Over one million international students are now enrolled at American higher education institutions, maintaining the US’s long-standing position as the world’s top host nation for international students. The 2015-2016 academic year – the latest year for which data is available – showed a 14.7 percent increase in Pakistani students studying in the US. We are proud that this is the highest level in five years, with our universities and colleges hosting 6,141 students. This includes the increase in students studying at the undergraduate and graduate levels as well as those enrolled in the Optional Practical Training. This is a testament to the unmatched quality of higher education in the US in the eyes of international students and their families.
International students from diverse backgrounds strengthen ties between the US and various countries around the world, developing the relationships between people and communities that are necessary to solve global challenges. We highly value inclusion and actively support students from diverse racial, ethnic, religious, and geographic backgrounds on campuses across the US. American students and communities benefit from the unique and diverse perspective that international students bring to expand their own worldviews, which helps prepare all of us for a shared, successful future in an interconnected world.
US colleges and universities take pride in providing safe, hospitable environments for all of their students. I want to stress how welcome you are in the US. Many universities have come together to send a specific and direct message to students around the world through the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign. I join them in welcoming you to the US, where our colleges and universities offer valuable educational opportunities to help you meet your life and career goals.
The consular officials at Embassy Islamabad, the Consulate General Karachi, the Consulate General Lahore and at the US embassies and consulates around the world continue to work diligently to process student visa requests. Information about the visa process is available at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en.html or https://pk.usembassy.gov/. The EducationUSA advisers are ready to answer questions about studying in the US, and you can find an adviser at educationusa.state.gov
Those of you who have received offers of admission have an opportunity to accept this life-changing opportunity and join your peers in experiencing the unique value of an American higher education.”
The writer is the US ambassador to Pakistan.