On October 27, 2021, at the annual conference of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), it was announced that the University of California, Irvine (UCI) was named an inaugural Fulbright HSI Leader by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This newly created designation recognizes the noteworthy engagement that selected Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) have achieved with the Fulbright Program, the federal government’s flagship international educational exchange program.

The U.S. Department of Education defines HSIs as colleges or universities at which Hispanic students make up at least 25 percent of the full-time-equivalent student body and at which at least half of all students receive financial aid. UCI secured HSI status in 2017, making it one of only four campuses in the Association of American Universities—which includes the country’s leading research institutions—to accomplish this feat. UCI was among 35 universities to be named Fulbright HSI Leaders, with all recipients recognized for their promotion of Fulbright opportunities on campus and their heavy involvement with Fulbright participants from 2019 to 2021.

UCI’s success in producing Fulbright award winners and its recent receipt of the Fulbright HSI Leader designation are thanks to the efforts of the UCI Scholarship Opportunities Program (SOP), which works towards UCI’s mission to encourage high-achieving students to compete for the most prestigious scholarships, grants, and graduate fellowships available. Not only does SOP disseminate information on a select group of prestigious awards (including the Fulbright Program), but it also guides students through the application process and organizes UCI’s processes for evaluating applications and endorsing candidates for awards as requiring University nomination.

Applicants for Fulbright Study/Research Awardsdesign their own academic projects and typically work with advisers at foreign universities or other institutes of higher education. Study/Research awards support one academic year (approximately 10 months) of specialized study, independent research, or a creative arts project. Juniors and graduating seniors who are interested in gaining hands-on work experience abroad can apply for two specialized Fulbright grants, the English Teaching Assistantship and the Binational Business Internship.

Since 1992, SOP has helped 130 UCI undergraduates and recent graduates place in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program competition—as recipients, alternates, and semi-finalists—to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching. Despite the pandemic, UCI students have continued to successfully compete for Fulbright funding, with an impressive tally of six Anteaters offered awards, five being named alternates, and 13 semi-finalists from 2019-2021.

Speaking on UCI’s ongoing Fulbright success and the new Fulbright HSI Leader designation, SOP Director Rose Jones highlighted UCI’s long history with the Fulbright Program.

“UCI celebrates its 30-year history of Anteaters receiving Fulbright grants to study, research, and work in countries around the world, demonstrating the global reach and impact of UCI’s values, passion, and excellence. We are excited to continue growing our extensive network of cross-cultural and international friendships and collaborations formed through the Fulbright Program, which grants Anteaters the opportunity to expand upon their world-class UCI education and contribute to the vibrancy of our cross-cultural exchanges as we address the concerns that affect our global community.”

UCI undergraduates interested in applying for the Fulbright Study/Research Award, the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, or the Fulbright Binational Business Internship are encouraged to learn more about the application process and how SOP can help by visiting the SOP website. SOP Fulbright pre-applications will be available from late February to early April 2022.

Learn about or apply for other funding opportunities by checking out the list of prestigious scholarships, grants, and other awards that SOP supports here.