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An American Dimension

Mike Woolf writes about the work of the Council on International Educational Exchange.


We must try through education to realise something new in the world, an aim that will inspire us and challenge us to use our talents and material wealth in a new way, by persuasion rather than force, co-operatively rather than competitively, not for the purpose of gaining dominance for a nation or an ideology but for the purpose of allowing every society to develop its own concepts of public decency and individual fulfilment.

To this purpose, I believe, the Council on International Educational Exchange is dedicated. (1)


What is the council?

Work Exchanges

Study Programmes



What is the council?

The Council on International Educational Exchange (known as Council and/or CIEE) is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, committed to expanding international education as a means of building understanding and peaceful co-operation between peoples and nations. Founded in New York in 1947, Council has grown to become one of the leading operators of international educational exchange programmes, providing opportunities for faculty staff, teachers and students in more than 30 countries around the world.

Council receives no grants from governments and does not seek that kind of support because of a desire to retain political and financial independence. Council supports itself through a "fee for service" approach.

Since its foundation the organisation has expanded both geographically and in terms of the range of its activities. Council is now committed to several types of experiential education as well as to the more traditional "study abroad" approach in many locations including those that are non-traditional. Council pioneered the creation of study centres in many parts of the world where European or American universities rarely operate. In this context, programmes have been developed in Vietnam, China, Africa and throughout Latin America to serve, primarily though not exclusively, the US undergraduate desire for overseas study. In addition, Council's subsidiary Council Travel offers travel services to students, colleges and universities which aim to enable them to develop travel as part of an educational process.

In spite of this level of expansion and diversification, the American focus of many of Council's activities has been retained. Council's London office was set up in 1986 and its activities reflect the organisation's commitment to the development of Anglo-American opportunities in the fields of work exchange, study abroad, conferences and publications. These activities are outlined below.

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Work Exchanges

Council's involvement in work exchanges stretches back more than 25 years and now involves the movement of more than 18,000 young people between countries each year. The organisation's commitment to international work exchange underlines Council's philosophy that education should not be confined to the classroom.

The Internship USA Programme enables around 600 students a year from the UK to complete up to a year's course-related work experience in the USA. Students must be enrolled on courses at HND level or above, and the internships (work experience) can last up to a year. Most participants go for around six months, with internships in fields as diverse as biochemistry, the hotel and catering business, law and graphic design. Placements are found by the participants themselves, usually following advice from their course tutor or university placement officer. The average wage for an intern in 1995 was just over $1000 per month gross. Students are also able to participate in this programme after graduation so long as they begin their internship within the calendar year in which they graduate.

In addition, around 4,000 UK students go to the United States to do casual work during the summer months on the Work and Travel Programme, run in co-operation with BUNAC. A similar number of young Americans come to the UK through the Work in Britain Programme, another Council scheme offered in association with BUNAC.

In terms of American Studies, these programmes enable students to deepen their understanding of the United States by functioning as participants in the culture rather than observers of it. These programmes depend on the US government's recognition of the Council as a sponsoring Organisation.

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Study Programmes

Whilst still a relatively unexploited concept in the UK (with the exception of EU sponsored programmes) the personal and academic value of a period of study overseas has long been recognised by the academic community in the United States. However, interest in Council's Anglo-American study opportunities continues to grow, and American study programmes represent a small but growing branch of the London office's activity. Council is committed to the expansion of opportunities to study abroad: included in a range of study abroad programmes in more than 30 countries, are a variety of programmes enabling British students (sixth form and above) to experience life and learning in the American Higher Education environment. Many programmes are offered for the first time in 1996.

Council's Summer Study USA programmes at UCLA and Berkeley allow participants the chance to spend between 3 and 10 weeks studying a wide variety of subjects, from business to beat culture. From the summer of 1996, similar courses will also be on offer at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. Another new option at Johns Hopkins university is a special pre-college course for 16 to 19 year olds, designed to allow younger people access to US undergraduate courses during the summer. Council also enrols students on courses year-round at Beaver College, Pennsylvania.

Also new for 1996 is a programme at the American University in Washington DC, combining the benefits of work and study abroad. Courses lasting from a summer to a semester or a full academic year are offered in subjects such as journalism, American politics, and peace and conflict studies. All courses includes relevant internships at organisations such as the Smithsonian Institution, congressional offices and embassies.

In addition to outbound programmes from the UK, Council offers study programmes which allow students from the USA to spend from a semester to a full academic year studying at a number of universities in the UK and Ireland. (2)

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In co-operation with BUTEX, Council London organises a biennial conference which takes as its theme an issue relevant to Anglo-American education. Attended by around 100 academics and professionals and hosted by the American Embassy, last year's conference dealt with "Emerging Patterns in Anglo-American Higher Education: Convergence and Divergence". In conjunction with this conference, Council's Index to American Study Abroad Programmes in the UK is produced, listing details of American universities which offer study abroad programmes to the UK.

In addition to this conference, and as part of Council's series of International Faculty Development Seminars, around a dozen American academics attend a Council-administered seminar in Northern Ireland each year. Generally, the international seminar series deals with social, political and economic concerns in the area of the venue. They aim to provide the opportunity for participants to gain greater understanding of a particular issue, to develop ties with institutions overseas, and thus internationalise the curriculum of their institution in the States. The Northern Ireland seminar, which began in 1991 and is run in association with the University of Ulster at Coleraine, focuses on the search for a political settlement in the region. Other seminars are held in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Council in the UK spends about one third of its time on Anglo-Japanese activities, about one third on intra-European exchange and about a third on Anglo-American programmes. In a single sentence, the former Ambassador to the UK, Raymond Seitz, summarised Council's objectives in all of its activities around the world when he said that "the purpose of international education is to enable us to talk to each other in nuances."


1 Senator J.W. Fulbright, Honorary Chairman Council on International Educational Exchange 1988- 1995

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2 Council is unable to provide funding for individuals for any of the above opportunities.

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For further information about the Anglo-American activities outlined above, or about the many other programmes and opportunities offered in other countries, please contact:

Council USA
300 Fore Street
Portland, ME 04101
CIEE Business Hours: 9am-5pm
Eastern Standard Time (EST)
Phone: 1-207-553-4000
Fax Number: 1-207-553-4299



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© 1996, City of Liverpool College and the Contributors.

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