In July 2011, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced the creation of a new scholarship program known as Ciência sem Fronteiras, a multiyear initiative to send 75,000 fully funded Brazilian students abroad for training in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, with an additional 25,000 scholarships to be funded by the private sector. IIE partners with the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and the Ministry of Education’s Federal Agency for the Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES) to administer the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program (BSMP) in the United States, which includes U.S. undergraduate, graduate, and intensive English programs.
In the middle of June, when the team at the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund realized we were facing a third Iraq emergency—as well as requests for help from scholars in many other parts of the world—Senator Leahy of Vermont reminded us why we do this work. He told the story of a man walking along a beach where many starfish had washed ashore. The man was picking them up one by one and tossing them back into the ocean. A passerby noted that there were many hundreds and that the effort was pretty much futile. “Not to the one I just managed to throw back,” replied the man.
Last month, the President of Brazil announced that the Federal Government would provide an additional 100,000 scholarships for Brazilian undergraduates to participate in the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, which enables them to study during their junior year in the United States and other countries. Currently over 80,000 students are participating in the program. The announcement means that by 2018, some 200,000 will have had the chance to learn another language and study and intern in relevant fields for the country's employment needs.
Recently, I accompanied 32 U.S. college and university representatives on a whirlwind study tour to Brazil. Covering five cities in six days, this remarkable group of faculty, staff, and administrators bonded over bus rides, pão de queijo, and the wealth of opportunities presented by the Brazilian higher education system.