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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is making advanced education for future workers a high priority. In 2011, she launched the Science Without Borders initiative whereby more than 100,000 Brazilians will spend a year studying abroad by the end of 2015. They will be studying subjects such as biotechnology, ocean science and petroleum engineering which the government regards as essential for the nation’s future.
The Institute for International Education or IIE is administering this initiative for the United States. The program will provide a substantive exchange experience at a U.S. college or university to a diverse group of emerging Brazilian student leaders to widen the academic and research exchange between the U.S. and Brazil. This initiative is the result of joint efforts from two sponsoring organizations, CAPES, the department within the Brazilian Ministry of Education devoted to the evaluation and expansion of higher education in Brazil and CNPq, the department within the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology devoted to the advancement of scientific research and technology and to the development of scientific research-related human resources..
Until now, few Brazilians have studied abroad. Last year there were only about 9,000 Brazilians on campuses in the United States (excluding language students). And those Brazilians who have foreign degrees have had a disproportionate influence back home. In the 1960s and 1970s, the government paid for PhDs abroad in oil exploration, agricultural research and aircraft design. Brazil is now a world leader in all three fields.
This week, representatives from 66 U.S. colleges and universities are participating in an education-focused trade mission to Brazil led by Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez. Education and training rank among the top 10 U.S. services exports. Tuition and living expenses from international students and their families brought in nearly $21 billion to the U.S. economy during the 2010-2011 academic year.
This trade mission will play an important role in helping participating colleges and universities boost the number of Brazilian students from 9,000, and in doing so, will support those institutions with full tuitions costs – as well as foster important cultural ties between the next generation of the world’s leaders.