Established in 1946, the Fulbright Program is the oldest and most prestigious international program for exchange of scholars and students funded by the United States government. Today it supports academic exchanges with 155 countries of the world. However, it was not always so, especially within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Initially, the USSR did not participate in the Fulbright Program or any other exchange programs with the U.S. Only in 1958 President Dwight Eisenhower and Premier Nikita Khrushchev signed the General Exchanges Agreement, establishing U.S. – USSR exchanges. In 1968 the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) was created to administer these academic exchanges.
However, it was not until the 1973-74 academic year that the Fulbright Program was finally established in the USSR. During the ensuing two decades only a small number of American scholars were able to visit Ukraine under these programs, and very few scholars from Ukraine became Fulbright and IREX scholars and studied in the U.S.
Following Ukraine’s attainment of independence in 1991, the country became much more open to international educational exchange programs. The Fulbright Program was opened in Ukraine at the beginning of 1992. Its goal was and remains to increase the mutual understanding between people of the United States and Ukraine through scholarly and research exchanges. Originally, the Fulbright Program was managed by the United States Information Agency (USIA) through the United States Embassy. A Fulbright office separate from the embassy was established in Kyiv in 1998.
Since the inception of the Fulbright Program in Ukraine, nearly 1000 Ukrainian scholars, students, and professionals have traveled to the United States for research or study in U.S. institutions of higher education. During the same period, more than 650 U.S scholars, students, and professionals have participated in the Fulbright Program in Ukraine as university lecturers, researchers, and consultants. Fulbright alumni in the United States are active citizens and make up a significant lobby which doesn’t let the U.S. Congress forget about supporting educational programs. Funding for the Fulbright Program is designated every year by the U.S. Congress as part of the annual budget.
Alumni of Ukrainian Fulbright programs established an alumni association in 1999. The Ukrainian Fulbright Association and its members play an active role in Ukraine’s intellectual and civic communities, developing and sustaining academic and educational programs at institutions of higher education throughout Ukraine. Through a Small Grants Program, Ukrainian Fulbright alumni are able to receive support for conferences, seminars, roundtable discussions, and other programs which they organize; for participation in academic events in Ukraine and around the world; and for publishing individual research as articles or monographs.