International mobility of students in Brazil.

Author:Vergani, Carlos Eduardo

By the early 1990s, Brazil's economy had hit rock bottom. During the past 20 years a different scenario has emerged, and Brazil has become the sixth largest economy in the world. Experts predict that it could soon become one of the world's top five economies.

While Brazilian society became modernized and its economy grew, higher education institutions also expanded in size and quality. Nowadays, the Brazilian university system reflects world standards and, according to some rankings, some of Brazil's universities are among the 200 best in the world. Higher education could not have grown without economic development and the reverse may become true in the future in the new era of knowledge economy. For that to become a reality, Brazil needs to pursue research and technology transfer links. That is where international student mobility and exchange can play a very important role. In response to the increasing demand for skilled human resources, active student mobility will help create a qualified workforce in Brazil. Student mobility in Brazil, particularly at the graduate level, has a long history that includes the international mobility of PhD candidates and researchers, a process that started in the early 1950s with the creation of the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNN). In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a significant number of Brazilians training abroad. After returning home, these scientists contributed to the vigourous development of the science and graduate education in Brazil. CAPES and CNN have played an important role in this process through funding several bilateral projects with different countries. Nevertheless, although Brazilian science has demonstrated significant growth in recent years, the interaction between the academic research and the business sector still needs to be drastically improved.

To encourage the internationalization of technology and innovation, there are currently many initiatives aimed at raising the intensity of international student and/or faculty mobility in Brazil. In July 2011, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced an audacious scholarship programme known as Brazil Scientific Mobility (formerly Science Without Borders), an initiative which aims to send up to 101,000 fully funded Brazilian students abroad for training in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields by 2015...

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