The right to travel: a passport for progress

A plane

With a passport, science students are a step closer to international collaboration (Credit: Flickr/Nir Sinay)

Getting science students their diplomas proves they are educated, but without a passport they will lack the opportunity to broaden their horizons through international travel and opportunities to work or to continue their education abroad. Indeed, one of the key recommendations coming out of the World Science Forum this week (17-19 November) is the need for more and better international collaboration in science.

So the Fulbright Academy of Science and Technology launched a ‘Passports for progress’ initiative at the forum.

The academy is an international organisation founded by the alumni of the prestigious Fulbright Exchange Program – there are around 300,000 alumni worldwide and several academy delegates attended the forum, including those from Bangladesh, Barbados, Costa Rica, Gaza, Honduras, India, Pakistan, Panama, the Philippines, United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe.

Eric Howard, executive director of the academy, told SciDev.Net the initiative will start will the US students, funding their passports (around US$135 each) but will also be expanded to other countries.

Of course, some western countries have complicated visa requirements but there are other countries they can travel to.

Romain Murenzi, president of TWAS (the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World), told SciDev.Net that there is scope for much more collaboration (and science diplomacy) among developing countries, such as the countries of East Africa.

But overbearing immigration bureaucracy and regulatory hurdles may still hamper free scientific exchange.

One of the key recommendations the forum participants agreed upon to promote international collaboration in science is: “The free co-operation and movement of scientists should be promoted by the elimination of harmful bureaucracy and false regulation and by providing the funds to further international co-operation.”

Mićo Tatalović, deputy news editor, SciDev.Net 

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