he Fulbright Program’s stature and success is based on its sustained commitment to international bilateral partnership and joint priority-setting between the United States and over 160 countries.
The binational approach grew out of the original Fulbright Act, which authorized the U.S. Secretary of State to enter into executive agreements with foreign governments to manage the funds derived from the sale of surplus war property through foundations. While the Fulbright Act did not require the organization of these foundations along binational lines, the first program administrators agreed that the mutual interests of the United States and other countries would best served through joint cooperation in program planning, decision-making and management. As a result, the new program was almost immediately accepted and recognized abroad—a recognition it has never lost.
The foundations are known today as Fulbright Commissions. Currently, there are 49 commissions worldwide, most of which are funded jointly by the U.S. and partner governments. These commissions plan and implement educational exchanges, recruit and nominate candidates for fellowships; designate qualified local educational institutions to host Fulbrighters; fundraise; engage alumni; support incoming U.S. Fulbrighters; and, in many countries, operate an information service for the public on study in the United States. Where Fulbright commissions do not exist, the program is administered by U.S. embassies in cooperation with host country governments.