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Brazil: Major new funding for (science and technology) study abroad

With the aim to enhance internationalisation of the country’s science, technology and innovation system by means of international academic mobility, the Brazilian government has recently come up with an ambitious plan called Science Without Borders. This initiative will award 75 000 scholarships by 2014 for graduate students and young researchers to study abroad, with an additional 25 000 expected to be funded by the private sector.

The government has earmarked around EUR 1.4 billion for this new academic exchange programme, to be managed by two federal entities, the Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES) and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq).  The idea is to focus on the following key areas:

  • 35 000 scholarships are intended for PhD students to pursue their research abroad in fields of national interest such as, for example, the life sciences and engineering; 
  • 27 000 scholarships are foreseen for graduate students who have completed a four or five-year programme at a university in Brazil to study abroad for one year; 
  • support for post-doctorate researchers; and 
  • hosting of outstanding researchers in Brazil.

In view of its unprecedented scope, this programme has evoked particular interest among the countries with which Brazil has already developed especially strong academic partnerships, primary among these Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Despite numerous structural challenges, Brazil has been able to define growth and consolidation of higher education as a major priority for national development, putting internationalisation issues at the top of the agenda. Similar developments can also be observed across the region – countries as diverse as Ecuador, El Salvador and Colombia are intensifying their efforts to offer new incentives for their students to go abroad. Some lessons have already been learned from Chile’s Becas programme, which has shown that the recognition of diplomas earned abroad, the valuing of foreign-language proficiency, as well as incentives to re-integrate professionally at home positively affect the implementation process.

Brazil Ministry of Education - CAPES