IIE Delegation to Brazil Explores Opportunities for Strategic International Partnerships
Educators report key findings for U.S. – Brazil Educational Cooperation
April 25, 2012—Last week, the Institute of International Education led a delegation of high-level officials representing eighteen U.S. higher education institutions to Brazil to meet with potential partner campuses and learn about Brazilian higher education. Based on the intensive weeklong visit, the delegation has issued key findings and recommendations for furthering U.S.-Brazil educational cooperation, including the need to address language barriers, expand the capacity to host study abroad students, and develop more avenues for cooperation at the community college level.
The study tour was part of IIE’s year-long International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP) for Brazil, and came on the heels of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s recent trip to the United States, during which the White House and the State Department emphasized the importance of educational cooperation between the U.S. and Brazil. IIE’s study tour also coincided with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Brazil on April 16th for the Global Partnership Dialogue to explore ways to expand U.S.-Brazil bilateral cooperation on regional and global issues, as part of an ongoing dialogue at a ministerial level on economic, educational and diplomatic issues.
The delegation found that U.S. and Brazilian institutions are equally committed to building long-term institutional relationships, which either expand on existing faculty relationships, or are based on new strategic priorities. Many Brazilian institutions have well-developed relationships with European institutions, and are now seeking to develop mutually beneficial and sustainable institutional relationships with U.S. campuses.
Following are the key findings from the U.S. delegation visit to Brazil:
- U.S. and Brazilian educators agreed that language is a significant challenge. Few U.S. students are proficient in Portuguese language and too few U.S. institutions offer instruction. Most Brazilian higher education institutions do not offer English-taught courses. During bilateral discussions, both U.S. and Brazilian representatives were optimistic, and noted that developing creative programs would be the key to breaking down that barrier; for example, offering short intensive Portuguese language courses to U.S. students who speak Spanish.
- Capacity to host U.S. study abroad students in Brazil is still limited. Approximately 3,000 U.S. students studied abroad in Brazil last year (compared to 12,000 in China), and the majority of U.S. students go abroad for a short term of less than a semester. Even the large, well-funded and internationally connected institutions in Brazil have few or no short-term study abroad opportunities for U.S. students. Brazilian and U.S. institutions are eager to expand study abroad and are thinking about creating ways to attract and host students.
- Brazilian higher education is very diverse and opportunities for collaborating with a Brazilian institution exist for all types of U.S. higher education institutions; however more should be done to expand collaboration with the community college sector.
- There are many existing and new funding resources and networks that can help support academic collaboration with Brazil, including the State Department’s EducationUSA network of advisers; the Fulbright Student and Scholar Programs and Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program; the Brazil Government’s Science Without Borders program, which in addition to student scholarships provides fellowships for visiting faculty and researchers; and FAUBAI, the Association of International Office Directors at Brazilian Universities.
During the meetings with the U.S. delegation, the Brazilian educators articulated the following priorities for developing international partnerships with U.S. institutions:
- Improve the promotion of Brazil as a destination for U.S. students and faculty;
- Prioritize the internationalization of higher education institutions;
- Develop English-language taught courses;
- Expand English language content on institutional websites;
- Expand curriculum collaboration with U.S. higher education institutions, including joint and dual degrees and distance learning courses.
In the next phase of the IAPP initiative, the U.S. educators will work to address some of these recommendations as they develop concrete plans for engagement with Brazilian higher education. Representatives of the eighteen U.S. institutions participating in IAPP will now return to their campuses to begin Phase II of the International Academic Partnership Program, building on the in-depth knowledge gained during the recent study tour. Together with an expert mentor chosen from among the IAPP Brazil Advisory Board, institutions will perform a critical review of their strategic plan for partnering with Brazil and ultimately develop a final report which will be used to garner support for on their campuses.
The visit will also help the Brazilian host campuses develop relationships with U.S. higher education, as each of the Brazilian host institutions received a complimentary one-year membership to the IIENetwork, which will provide resources, contacts, and information to aid in their internationalization efforts and connect them to over 1,100 other institutions around the world.
About the IIE-led U.S. – Brazil higher education delegation
The IIE delegation traveled to São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, Campinas and Piracicaba to visit public and private higher education institutions, including the University of Sao Paulo (USP), SENAC, Universidade Federal do Sao Paulo (UNIFESP), Universidade Federal de Rio de Janeiro (UFRG), Fundacao Getulio Vargas (FGV), Pontificia Universidade Catolica Rio, Universidade Federal de Campinas (UNICAMP), Escuela Secundaria de Agricultura Luiz Queiroz (ESALQ), and IESB in Brasilia. The delegates also participated in a U.S.-Brazil Partnerships Roundtable with representatives from 15 Brazilian higher education institutions to discuss the challenges and opportunities for expanding U.S.-Brazil academic partnerships.
In addition, the IIE delegates joined a workshop hosted by Brazil’s Ministry of Education, Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) focused on Brazil’s new Science Without Borders program, which seeks to send 100,000 students overseas for science education and training, including 20,000 students to the United States. IIE is partnering with the Government of Brazil on this program and has been working closely with CAPES and CNPq to place the undergraduate scholarship students at U.S. universities.
IIE’s International Academic Partnership Program, a major program of IIE’s Center for International Partnerships in Higher Education, helps U.S. colleges in their internationalization efforts by guiding them through a strategic planning process specifically for developing transformative partnerships with institutions in other countries.
The U.S. campuses in the IAPP Brazil program are: Baruch College, CUNY; Brandeis University; Brookdale Community College; Chatham University; California State University, Fullerton; Daemen College; East Tennessee State University; Illinois State University; Monroe Community College; Monterey Institute of International Studies; Queens College, CUNY; Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; Stevens Institute of Technology; University of Massachusetts, Amherst; University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth; University of South Florida; University of Toledo; and Washington State University.
Institute of International Education
The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. An independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of over 20 offices worldwide and over 1,000 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE also conducts policy research and program evaluations, and provides advising and counseling on international education and opportunities abroad.