Mission & History


The Fulbright Program

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, who believed the program could play an important role in building lasting world peace in the aftermath of World War II. The purpose of the program is “to enable the government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” Grants are made to U.S. citizens and nationals of other countries for a variety of educational activities, primarily university teaching, advanced research, graduate studies, and non-academic professional programs in specified fields.

Participating governments and host institutions in many countries and in the United States also contribute financially through cost-sharing, as well as by indirect support such as salary supplements, tuition waivers, university housing and other benefits.

Since the establishment of the Fulbright program, over 183,000 scholars have visited the United States to conduct advanced research, study and teach in U.S. universities, and more than 111,000 U.S. scholars have traveled internationally for similar purposes. The Fulbright Program awards approximately 7,500 new grants annually. More than 155 countries participate in the program.

A Brief History of FSE

The U.S. Government established the Fulbright program in 1946 to promote international exchange and understanding in the wake of the devastation of World War II. Soon thereafter, in 1947, the first Fulbright Commission in the world was founded in Nanjing under the name, “U.S. Educational Foundation in China.” Due to the advancing civil war in China, the Foundation was soon forced to suspend activities and did not re-open until 1957, under a new name, the “U.S. Educational Foundation in the Republic of China”, located in Taipei, Taiwan.

In 1964, the United States and Taiwan signed a new agreement to make permanent the Foundation’s role as facilitator for all Fulbright programs in Taiwan. This agreement continues to serve as the Foundation’s legal charter. Subsequently, the Foundation began to diversify its sources of funding within Taiwan, first attracting support from the National Science Council, and eventually from the Ministry of Education (1980) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2006). In 1979, the Foundation changed its name to “the Foundation for Scholarly Exchange” (FSE).

During its first fifty years, the Foundation evolved from an early focus on science and technology in the 1960s, to an emphasis on social sciences and humanities in the 1970s and ‘80s, to expanding opportunities for arts and cultural exchange from the 1990s. Fulbright study, research and teaching grants have remained the cornerstone of the program. FSE has also administered several exchange programs for mid-career professionals, including the Hubert H, Humphrey Fellowships (1984-1994); the Elizabeth Luce Moore Leadership Program for Chinese Women (1995-2001); and the East-West Center exchange program in Hawaii (1969-2008).

Grants for English teaching in Taiwan were introduced in 1995, and in 2003 expanded to Yilan County in response to the local government’s request to start a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship program. While nine Americans participated in the program during its first year, funding has since expanded to support 16 teachers and one full-time Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) professor. A similar program, with 12 Americans participating, was established in Kaohsiung City in the 2008-09 academic year.

Since 1958, the Foundation has sent over 1,600 Taiwan Fulbright grantees to the U.S., and more than 1,600 U.S. Fulbright grantees have come to Taiwan. Today, Taiwan’s Fulbright program continues to attract a diverse mix of academics, professionals, artists, performers and writers interested in increasing their knowledge of the United States and Taiwan while exploring new avenues for professional development.

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