Brazil’s global am­bi­tions

New fund­ing pro­gramme aims to boost coun­try’s in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion ef­forts. Si­mon Baker re­ports

THE (Times Higher Education) - - CONTENTS - Si­[email protected]­ere­d­u­ca­tion.com

Brazil­ian uni­ver­si­ties are hop­ing that a ma­jor shift in fo­cus in how the coun­try funds in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion will change its past ten­dency to be a “pas­sive” par­tic­i­pant in higher ed­u­ca­tion’s glob­al­i­sa­tion.

The Capes-PrInt pro­gramme, which has an an­nual bud­get of around 300 mil­lion real (£60 mil­lion), was launched last year with the aim of fund­ing up to 40 uni­ver­si­ties and their in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion projects. Run by Brazil’s pub­lic higher ed­u­ca­tion agency, Capes, the scheme dif­fers hugely from the coun­try’s pre­vi­ous ma­jor in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion ef­fort, Sci­ence With­out Bor­ders, which had a much larger bud­get and con­cen­trated on fund­ing schol­ar­ships for Brazil­ian stu­dents to study abroad.

Capes-PrInt in­stead asked uni­ver­si­ties to sub­mit their own pro­pos­als for im­prov­ing global links and has looked to fund projects that en­com­pass all as­pects of in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion, in­clud­ing in­creas­ing the num­ber of staff and stu­dents vis­it­ing Brazil from other coun­tries.

At a Bri­tish Coun­cil event on Brazil-UK uni­ver­sity co­op­er­a­tion, which took place in Lon­don ear­lier this month, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from a num­ber of Brazil­ian uni­ver­si­ties ex­plained how they had high hopes for the ini­tia­tive, which has an­nounced back­ing for projects at 36 in­sti­tu­tions.

Heloísa Orsi Koch Del­gado, dean of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at the Pon­tif­i­cal Catholic Uni­ver­sity of Rio Grande do Sul, told the event that in the past there had been a “strong ten­dency for ‘pas­sive’ in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion in Brazil. We go abroad more of­ten than [peo­ple come] into the coun­try and this is some­thing that needs to be changed.”

Mar­cio de Cas­tro Silva Filho, deputy provost of grad­u­ate stud­ies at the Uni­ver­sity of São Paulo, said that his in­sti­tu­tion was now of­fer­ing more than 250 cour­ses in English and has stepped up hir­ing of aca­demics from over­seas. “We re­ally want to cre­ate an in­ter­na­tional en­vi­ron­ment at USP,” he said.

How­ever, the aca­demics were also asked about whether the pro­gramme – brought in un­der the cur­rent Brazil­ian ad­min­is­tra­tion and due to run un­til 2022 – would sur­vive any changes in­sti­gated by the con­tro­ver­sial new pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro when he as­sumes power next month.

Pro­fes­sor Silva Filho, who was also rep­re­sent­ing Capes at the event, said: “Hope­fully this pro­gramme will not be linked to a gov­ern­ment but it will be­come a na­tional pro­gramme. That is our ex­pec­ta­tion.”

Roberto Ar­ruda, di­rec­tor of in­ter­na­tional stu­dent aca­demic suc­cess at the Uni­ver­sity of Colorado Boul­der and an ex­pert on Brazil’s in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion pro­grammes, told Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion sep­a­rately that, although the fu­ture of PrInt was as un­cer­tain as any gov­ern­ment scheme fol­low­ing Mr Bol­sonaro’s elec­tion, the pro­gramme was al­ready well un­der way.

And gen­er­ally, he said that Capes- PrInt had “sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tages” over SWB given that it had “great po­ten­tial” to help Brazil with “long-last­ing struc­tures to sup­port in­ter­na­tional re­search, in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion of cur­ric­ula, ex­pos­ing fac­ulty and stu­dents to a global knowl­edge com­mu­nity, and in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion at home”.

But Mr Ar­ruda added that one con­cern was that it may only fund in­sti­tu­tions that are al­ready strong at in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion.

“The Brazil­ian gov­ern­ment is giv­ing a sub­stan­tial amount of money for [higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions] to in­ter­na­tion­alise; how­ever, only in­sti­tu­tions that al­ready have some ex­per­tise are able to take ad­van­tage of it. It would be ben­e­fi­cial for the in­sti­tu­tions that have had no ex­pe­ri­ence with it to re­ceive sup­port as well,” he said.

16

Brave new world scheme could sup­port Brazil as an in­ter­na­tional player, but some say it faces an un­cer­tain fu­ture

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