Good relations between Brazil and Ireland bring a positive impact in higher education, according to Ambassador of Brazil to Ireland, Eliana Zugaib.
“The fact that we have here in Ireland a very high number of Brazilians, who are mostly students, is very important to Brazil because it’s an exchange of different experiences and cultures,” said Ms Zugaib.
The Brazilian government program Science Without Borders sponsored several undergrad, masters and PhD Brazilian students to universities across the world, as well as brought students from other countries to institutions in Brazil.
The program is wrapping this year with the graduation of the last batch of students. Science Without Borders was officially launched in 2012, and sponsored around 93 thousand full-time scholarships for Brazilian students across the world. 73 per cent of those were for undergrad studies.
In 2014, the final scholarships were given out, while there were roughly around 4 thousand Brazilian and international students under the program.
Ms Zugaib said the program was very good for the country and it helped advertise Brazil in the world. Although Science Without Borders is ending, she pointed out that there will be other incentives from the government for studying abroad.
“To have Brazilians studying in other countries is of extreme importance because every time you experience a different culture, when you return to your own country, you return enriched, with an open spirit and knowing a new language,” said Ms Zugaib.
She said that the Brazilian community is the largest international group in Galway and she feels Ireland is very open to them.
According to Professor Brian Hughes, Dean of International Affairs in NUI Galway, 21 per cent of all students in the university are international, while two thirds of those are from outside Europe. He said the goal is to raise the number of non-Irish students to 25 per cent in the next five years.
Currently there are 35 Brazilian students in NUI Galway and Professor Hughes pointed out that the Science Without Borders program left a legacy of positive connections with partner universities.
“What we are trying to do now is to establish formal agreements between universities to facilitate student mobility, so students can do their degree in Brazil and spend time in Galway,” he said.
The idea is that the universities provide the students with support to allow them to study and pursue a career in Europe.
Professor Hughes also said that there are students from 110 countries in the institution and that they are keen to make sure there is diversity within the students’ body.
Ms Zugaib also said that the Science Without Borders Program helped advertise the universities outside Brazil that hosted these students. Therefore, everyone can be positively impacted by partnerships driven to encourage international higher education.
“We only have to gain, and so does Ireland,” she added.
She paid a courtesy visit to NUI Galway on Wednesday, March 13, and took time to meet with Brazilian students and reinforce connections with the institution.