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Department of Education awards International Institute $8M in Title VI funds

The UCLA International Institute, a center for research and engagement in international affairs, is pictured. The institute received $8 million in funding from the Department of Education through Title VI. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Lea Ozdere

Sept. 5, 2022 12:21 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated the funding the UCLA International Institute received was awarded through three programs under Title XI. In fact, it was awarded through three programs under Title VI.

This post was updated Sept. 7 at 12:22 p.m.

The UCLA International Institute received $8 million in federal Title VI funding in August for six of its centers to be used throughout the next four academic years.

The International Institute is a central hub for teaching, research and engagement in international affairs at UCLA, said Cindy Fan, vice provost for international studies and global engagement. The institute has various interdisciplinary academic programs, research centers and outreach and service opportunities that align with UCLA’s purpose as a public and global university, Fan added.

Title VI funding comes from the United States Department of Education to promote international studies and demonstrates the importance of an increasingly interconnected world, including understanding different languages, cultures and people, Fan said. For this upcoming cycle of the next four academic years, the centers from UCLA’s International Institute that received funding were the Latin American Institute, the Center for Near Eastern Studies, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, the Center for European and Russian Studies, the Asia Pacific Center, and the National Heritage Language Resource Center, according to UCLA Newsroom.

Proposals to receive Title VI funding – which come out of centers within the International Institute – are scored and compared among all the universities that applied, resulting in scores with only a one- or two-point difference, making the process very competitive, said Kathyrn Paul, director for international collaborations at the International Institute.

The funding reflects UCLA’s status as a nationwide leader in international studies academia, Paul added.

Any funding institute centers receive is mainly used toward staffing, said Ali Behdad, director of the Center of Near Eastern Studies, one of the centers that received funding. These grants allow additional support for programming and other opportunities that support students, he added.

The funding is awarded through three programs under Title VI within the Department of Education – the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships program, the National Resource Center program, and the Language Resource Centers program, Behdad said. Three of the six awarded centers were recognized as National Resource Centers, which means their work is expected to be shared nationally, Paul said.

The FLAS award has a local impact through supporting advanced language and area studies at the university, and five centers received this recognition, Paul said. The funding is dedicated to undergraduate and graduate students in language studies on campus or overseas, Fan added.

The Asia Pacific Center – one of the centers that received the FLAS award – will use the funding for fellowships that benefit students by providing travel funds and paying for the tuition to study abroad, said Min Zhou, director of the Asia Pacific Center at the institute.

“As a public university, our funding is very limited,” Zhou said. “So having the Title VI grants to fund students is really impactful to help those students who take language and cultural classes of the region.”

The NRC program has a broader impact, including bringing in speakers or funding a specific department or language, Paul said. It has an outreach goal to connect to the local community and K-12 schools to promote the teaching and research of a particular region and its culture, Zhou said.

There are only 16 funded national Language Resource Centers, and UCLA’s center also hosts the National Heritage Language Resource Center, the only one of the 16 that focuses on heritage languages, Paul said.

“We live in a city where this is really an important piece of our city, and that center focuses a lot on research and pedagogy for heritage language speakers,” Paul said.

The funding is important in order to staff and teach languages at an advanced level, especially less commonly taught languages, Behdad said. The awards also help amplify outreach into the community, so more students are aware of the opportunities they have, he added.

The federal government’s commitment to funding these programs shows the importance of language and area studies and international courses on a large scale, Paul said.

“Getting these awards is one of the many ways in which the International Institute supports our mission of enhancing the university and enabling the university to be a global society,” Fan said. “We all need our students to be globally competent. We all need our students to be prepared for the global workforce.”

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