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EDUCATION REPORT - January 23, 2003: Foreign Student Series #19 >Agriculture Studies - 2003-01-22

This is the VOA Special English EDUCATION REPORT.

We continue our series of reports about how students from foreign countries can attend a college or university in the United States. Today, we tell about universities that teach agricultural science.

The United States Department of Education says there are more than two-thousand-four-hundred American colleges and universities. About one-hundred of these four-year schools began as public agricultural colleges, and continue to teach agriculture. They are called land grant colleges or universities. Federal land grants supported the building of most of the major state universities in the United States.

The idea of the land grant college was developed more than one-hundred years ago by Congressman Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont. In eighteen-sixty-two, he wrote legislation to create such a college in each state.

The name land grant came from the kind of aid provided by the federal government. It gave each state thousands of hectares of land. The money earned by the land was to be used to support the college.

The federal government wanted people in each state to learn better ways to farm. Mister Morrill and others saw a need for universities to teach agriculture science to improve what was then an important national industry. A later law helped agricultural colleges develop new ideas in farm science. It created an agriculture experiment center at each land grant college to help farmers solve problems.

One land grant school is the Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania. About four-thousand students from other countries now attend Penn State. It costs between twenty-eight-thousand and thirty-four-thousand dollars a year to attend. Officials say it is possible for graduate students to get financial aid by working for the university as a teaching or research assistant.

Almost two-hundred international students are studying this year in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State. All but five are graduate students. University officials say most international students in the College of Agricultural Sciences are from Africa, Asia and Europe. They are studying animal science, plant science, forestry, economics, and food science.

This VOA Special English EDUCATION REPORT was written by Nancy Steinbach.