South American visit pays dividends

5 April 2012

Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence has signed an agreement on behalf of Australia's leading research universities that will bring a significant increase in the number of Brazilian students coming to Australia.

Dr Spence led a Group of Eight delegation to Chile and Brazil in March for meetings with university leaders and education officials, to strengthen links with a region that is fast becoming an important education partner for Australia.

In Brasilia, Dr Spence signed two MoUs with the Brazilian Government that will boost the number of Brazilian students undertaking higher education courses in Australia.

Dr Spence said: "Australia's links with South America have flourished in the last decade and we are keen to explore new areas of cooperation and engagement. We are interested in building long-term relationships, and it is important for us to focus on partnerships that bring mutual benefits and broaden our research base."

Professor John Hearn, the University's Deputy-Vice Chancellor International, said it was important for Australia to look at the long-term strategic opportunities in Brazil and Chile.

He said existing research links, such as Sydney's partnerships in agriculture and engineering, formed a strong platform for future growth.

In Chile the delegates met representatives from the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research and members of the Chilean university rectors' group, CRUCH. Since 2008 the Go8 has had an agreement in place with the Chilean Government under its US$600 million Chilean Bicentennial Scholarship Fund for Human Capital Development. The large majority of Chilean scholarship students coming to Australia now choose to enrol in Go8 universities.

In Brazil the primary focus of the visit was meetings with the Ministry of Education (CAPES) and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development. These two government agencies have been charged with administering a $2 billion scholarships program which aims to send 100,000 Brazilian students to the world's best universities and thus increase Brazil's capacity in the knowledge economy.

Contact: Richard North

Phone: 0425 395 370

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