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IIE mission to Brazil forges opportunity

Eighteen educators from US institutions had the opportunity to  meet with potential partner campuses in Brazil and learn about Brazilian higher education last month as the culmination of the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) International Academic Partnership Programme (IAPP).

"We at IIE believe our two countries should seek much stronger cooperation in higher education"

Delegates insist closer relations will now foster greater opportunity, with institutions mindful that language programmes (both Portuguese and English) are an integral bridge to greater academic exchange.

“At a time when Brazil’s economy is expanding rapidly, and Brazil and the United States are forging unprecedented ties in trade, energy and scientific development, we at IIE believe our two countries should seek much stronger cooperation in higher education as well,” said IIE President and CEO Allan E. Goodman. The IAAP aims to connect accredited US colleges and universities with higher education institutions in a focus country.

IIE says that it especially invites institutions who are relatively new to international activities or may have less installed capacity in international education to join the IAPP programme.

Dr. Jack Ahern, Vice Provost for International Programmes at the University of Massachusetts Amherst was on the Brazil tour. He told The PIE News that the delegation was “significantly diverse” including community colleges, small liberal arts schools and larger four-year research focused institutions.

“Communication has been a little slow until now but that’s going to improve”

Ahern was impressed with the “intelligently organised” meetings with different Brazilian institutions. “We had presentations and meetings with many different types of institutions in Brazil and also with important government organisations that are part of higher education including the Brazilian Higher Education Ministry (CAPES).”

The delegation’s findings show that the countries’ efforts to expand international academic partnerships are contingent on promoting Portuguese and English language programmes as well as upping capacity in Brazilian universities to host students.

“This is a special moment in Brazil so it’s a time of major transition for them and their English language skills haven’t quite caught up with that. Likewise, Portuguese is not such a common second language in the US,” said Ahern.

The delegation’s visit to the country comes after President Dilma Rousseff toured the US earlier last month to promote the Science Without Borders programme which sees the Brazilian government funding 75,000 students and the private sector an additional 25,000.

“We have a few students in the pipeline for the fall to come in under the Science Without Borders programme,” said Ahern. “Communication has been a little slow until now but that’s going to improve.”

Efforts to expand partnerships are contingent on promoting Portuguese and English language programmes

Other funding sources to support visiting students and faculty from both countries include EducationUSA and the Fulbright Student and Scholar programme.

The Brazilian educators who met with the US delegation also stressed the importance of promoting Brazil as a destination for US students and faculty and want to prioritise curriculum collaboration with US higher education institutions.

Ahern said that after the trip, UMass has plans to focus on mutual faculty interests, especially for collaborative research and will work to promote general undergraduate exchanges.

 

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