Representatives from Brazilian universities will be in Belfast today.
The visitors are senior academics with responsibility for international affairs at ten of Brazil’s top universities.
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.
This is the first time such a delegation has arrived in Northern Ireland, having been invited through a joint initiative between the British Council and FAUBI – the Brazilian Association of International Education.
Hailing from all corners of Brazil, the universities will spend today discovering what Northern Ireland has to offer with discussions with the Department for Employment and Learning, Invest NI and the NI English language sector represented by English UK – Northern Ireland.
The day 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.
They were welcomed to Northern Ireland at a special reception at Belfast City Hall on Tuesday evening (September 23), hosted by Deputy Lord Mayor Maire Hendron.
Speaking ahead of the campus tours, FAUBI President, José Celso Freire Jr said: “Brazil’s Science Without Borders programme plans to send 100, 000 students to the US or UK in the next academic year.
“We’re here in Northern Ireland to find joint partnerships and research collaborations and discover how we can work together with both Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster. Northern Ireland universities are among the best in the world and we feel we will find strong partners where we can send, as well as receive, students.
“Brazil already has links with these universities, with 50 Brazilian students currently studying in Northern Ireland, but we want to find ways to develop this further — whether this is through joint degrees, double degrees or deepening institutional links.”
Speaking about these links, Claudio Anjos, Director of Education and Society at British Council Brazil said: “Brazil has already established very good mobility schemes in the UK, but we need to build on this and take it to the next level by deepening institutional links.
“The plan is to build on what is already in place with the Brazilian Science Without Borders programme. We can strengthen international links through research collaborations, training Brazilian researchers in Northern Ireland, and by teaching Portuguese at Northern Ireland universities.
“There are lots of opportunities for these partnerships through British Council programmes, whether that is through the Science Without Borders programme, the newly formed Newton Fund or indeed British Council’s Going Global initiative, which allows UK or US universities to collaborate with institutions in Brazil, China, India or Indonesia.”
This pioneering 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 and education 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 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