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Brazil: funding freeze will hurt mobility

In a decision that will also impact international mobility, the Brazilian government has announced that funding will be frozen for scholarships to master’s and PhD courses, with cuts affecting also the Languages Without Borders program.

Photo: nuno_lopes/Pixabay

This is part of wider budget cuts to education

The move, announced in May by CAPES, an agency with the Ministry of Education affects scholarships that had already been planned and released but not yet awarded, according to reports.

“International partners…may have a key role to play to reduce the negative impacts of such measures”

This is part of wider budget cuts to education against which institutions, students and teachers have been protesting.

“The public universities and the society are, together, reacting to such initiatives: last week we saw a huge mobilisation…in favour of public education and against the cuts announced by the federal government,” FAUBAI president Maria Leonor Alves Maia told The PIE News, adding that the move may affect international mobility.

“At least 90% [of research] is developed in public universities with a relevant financial support from the Brazilian Agencies responsible for fostering research. Besides, one knows that part of it is developed through international research networks,” she said.

“Therefore, the cut in scholarship for graduate studies potencially affects  the outbound mobility if staff and students.”

Alves Maia confirmed that cuts will also affect Languages Without Borders program, which supports language teaching and learning at university level.

“The universities are discussing alternatives they can offer to the academic community to keep offering support for international languages,” she said.

“I’d like to stress that in both situations (cut in scholarship for graduate studies and in the LWB Programme) the international partners and community network may have a key role to play to reduce the negative impacts of such measures.”

Executive director of Languages Canada Gonzalo Peralta told The PIE News that the association has expressed its support to the program and expressed doubts as to why the budget has been cut.

“We have already sent a letter to the minister explaining our support for the program and how much it has brought to us in terms of international collaboration,” he said.

“The only reason for cutting it is because you don’t want Brazil to be international”

“In my view it’s the least expensive and most effective program that I have seen in place. Language Without Borders doesn’t actually receive much funding, so I don’t understand why you would even cut it. The only reason for cutting it is because you don’t want Brazil to be international.”

The announced funding cuts to the program will also impact internationalisation in a broader sense, as the program helped Brazilian universities connect with partners abroad, and international partners forge connections in Brazil, Peralta said, and will also damage the quality of language education in the country.

“It’s not just Brazilians learning English and French…it’s also about giving access to Canadians to learn Portuguese and participate in Brazilian research,” he explained.

Brazil has an incredible depth of expertise in language education. Eliminating this program also eliminates a meeting point for language education experts in Brazil.”


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