Bilateral Bridges among Government and Academia: Opportunities on the Horizon

Focused on developing top talent through the best educational opportunities for its students, the Latin American countries of Colombia and Panama have established specific scholarships and learning programs to help students graduate with the skills and tools needed to become strong leaders with a positive impact on the future of their countries.


Inspired by former Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos’ vision to catapult the country as a leader in science and technology in Latin America by 2025, Colombia is keen to get the word out about scholarships and government initiatives designed to encourage its students, particularly in the STEM fields. The Education Ministry has one of the largest budgets of Colombia’s foreign ministries and the number of scholarships available is evidence of the country’s efforts towards achieving its 2025 goal.

Funded by the Colombian government’s department of science, technology, and innovation, Colciencias Nexo Global Program aims to give high-achieving Colombian undergraduates the chance to study in laboratories at top research institutions. The pilot program for Nexo initially will enroll about 40 students in the US, with the ultimate goal of sending 6,000 Colombian students to universities around the world. Colciencias is also funding a new scholarship program for Colombian students pursuing doctoral degrees.



With a similar government initiative, Panama has created programs to support students wanting to study abroad and is ranked 7th in Central America for sending students to the US. “We have a good economy that allows many families to send students for education abroad, but we also have extremely good support from the government for students wishing to study abroad,” explained Political Attaché, Embassy of Panama to the United States, Franklin Morales.

There are several Fulbright opportunities and research programs available for students by the government. Education USA provides an Opportunity Grant for a full scholarship for students with limited economic resources. Several scholarships are also sourced through Panama’s National Secretariat of Science, Technology, and Innovation (SENACYT).


Additionally, Panama is expanding English language teaching by sending 1,000 Panamanian teachers a year to study in the US. “It’s an extremely ambitious program and the signature initiative of President Juan Carlos Varela,” highlighted Mr. Morales. “I think the most important thing is that it demonstrates the level of commitment to learning English and learning in the United States.”