Delegates from 12 Brazilian universities will arrive in Northern Ireland next week.
They’re here as part of a UK-wide visit to seek out long-term academic partnerships and find out more about our Higher Education Sector.
Hailing from all corners of Brazil, the universities will look at research and institutional links with both Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster.
This is the first time such a delegation has arrived in Northern Ireland, having been invited through a joint initiative between British Council Northern Ireland and FAUBI – the Association of Brazilian Higher Education Institutions’ Offices for International Relations.
They will be welcomed to Northern Ireland at a special reception at Belfast City Hall hosted by Deputy Lord Mayor Maire Hendron, before discovering what Northern Ireland has to offer, with discussions from the Department for Employment and Learning, Invest NI and the NI English language sector represented by English UK – Northern Ireland.
Their trip will cumulate with campus visits to both Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster to meet a range of staff involved in international partnerships and links.
Such a visit could be vital to Northern Ireland – with new reports suggesting that export sales to Brazil have helped drive Northern Ireland’s economic recovery.
HMRC statistics have shown that export sales to Brazil were approximately £34.6m within the 2013-2014 period.
According to Vicky Kell, Director of Trade at Invest NI, Northern Ireland must continue to find ways to develop business links with Brazil.
She said: “Northern Ireland has strong links with Brazil and visits such as this are an important way strengthen this relationship and identify new ways to partner together. Exporting services and identifying collaborative research opportunities are an important part of the export mix.
“Invest NI has assisted Northern Ireland companies to develop trade links with Brazil through commissioned market research and dedicated in market assistance, as well as hosting trade missions to key centres within Brazil which included assisting educational links with key Brazilian institutes. Both universities are already attracting students from Brazil through the ‘Science without Borders Programme’ and we want to build on that programme and promote further links with government and business in Brazil.”
Speaking about the mission, Jonathan Stewart Deputy Director of the British Council, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our universities and other local stakeholders to meet staff from Brazilian universities who are interested in developing strategic partners and alliances with the UK.
“The visit also provides a chance to raise awareness of our English language offer to emerging economies such as Brazil, where there is a pressing need for English language skills.
“The English Language sector, which contributes £16m to our economy annually, is often a hidden source of income – it is therefore crucial to keep strengthening links with these kind of emerging markets.”
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. For more information visit nireland.britishcouncil.org.