During academic year 2015/2016, Colombia increased by 9% the number of students in the U.S. remaining as the 2nd largest sender in the Andean Region with 7,815 students: 40.5% studying at Undergraduate level and 38.6% at Graduate level. The U.S. Embassy in Bogota has set a goal to double the number of Colombian students in the following years supporting technology projects such as Ed, a 24/7 virtual adviser in Spanish and various micro grant scholarships for English Language learning. The approval of the FTA between the U.S. and Colombia, has increased foreign investment and the need of academic mobility and exchange. Several commercial missions from individual U.S. States have visited Colombia and education has been a major focus. Colombian accredited universities have a unified exchange strategy called Colombia Challenge Your Knowledge http://www.challengeyourknowledge.edu.co/ to promote the country as a study destination and increase agreements with foreign countries. In Colombia, there is a strong network of 11 EducationUSA centers administering language programs and doing extensive outreach around the country. Advising centers are located at 9 binational centers, the Fulbright commission and COLFUTURO.
As in previous years, Colombian students have several local options to fund their language and graduate studies abroad, from both the public and private sectors. ICETEX, the governmental body for education abroad, administers direct scholarships from institutions and offers loans for ESL and graduate degrees (US$8,000 and US$25,000 respectively). This year, the Colombian government just launched a big strategy to support STEM graduate studies abroad, academic advising in those areas and institutional partnerships called Colombia Cientifica. COLCIENCIAS has increased its funding to fully support prospective PhD’s, which are in high demand at local universities. There is also a great funding option through COLFUTURO which provides up to US$25,000 per year for two years through loan-scholarships for graduate degrees and has signed many agreements with local companies and governmental bodies to increase the size and effectiveness of their program. COLFUTURO supports around 2,000 graduate students per year. The Mazda Foundation and the Bank of the Republic offer funding for graduate degrees in Music, Fine Arts, Mathematics, Physics and Economics. There is also country policy on bilingualism which aims to increase the level of English in high schools and universities, for both students and faculty.