With the latest initiative of the United Embassy in Manila on education, the annual EducationUSA Fair in Sofitel Manila, US Ambassador Sung Kim believes ties between Washington and Manila will get stronger.

“Education exchanges has always been a key part of the relations between the US and the Philippines and in fact it’s probably one of the best ways to build ties between the two countries and its people-to-people ties,” he told reporters in an interview on Thursday.

On the sides of the event, Kim expressed delight with what he described “strong interest” of Filipino people in studying in the US as reflected in the EducationUSA Fair’s registration increase this 2018.

“The numbers keep going up and we want to encourage that. We want more and more student to study in the US and I hope that today and the education fair in Cebu tomorrow, we will promote stronger ties between our two countries.”

EducationUSA is a global network of more than 400 advising centers supported by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State.

Its services, which are all free of charge, include creating an educational plan, choosing a school, obtaining financial aid, applying for admission, getting a student visa and preparing for departure.

From 20 in 2017, 34 US universities and colleges joined the Manila fair this year.

Last year’s Manila sign-up was 1,300, and this year it reached about 1,700. On the other hand, 23 schools are joining the Cebu fair tomorrow, the first EducationUSA Fair in the region.

Kim said the annual event is only among the initiatives the US Embassy undertakes in further enriching education ties with Manila.

“We continue to do a lot of joint activities with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED),” he said.

“We do work very closely with both DepEd and CHED because I think we all have a common interest, we want to provide great education opportunities for Filipino students,” he added.

Kim said there are‎ over 3,000 Filipinos studying in the US, a 4.2 percent increase from the 2016 figures.

“That’s not even counting Filipino-Americans studying in the US because it’s impossible for us to know how many of them are studying in the America because they don’t need visas,” he pointed out.

Kim said the increase is due to Filipinos realizing the opportunities, studying in their institutions can bring.

“There are many great opportunity when you study in the US and I know that in the last few years, many Filipinos studying in the US has gone up and I expect that trend to continue.” (PNA)