Is there a niche area for Canada within Brazil’s ambitious Science Without Borders program? That was one of the topics discussed during this afternoon’s panel at the Presidents’ Roundtable in Rio de Janeiro.
University of New Brunswick President Eddy Campbell moderated a discussion that looked at the potential of Science Without Borders – a new scholarship program that will see 12,000 Brazilian students come to Canada over the next four years – as the start of something even bigger, and lasting.
Anisio Brasileiro of Universidade Federal de Pernambuco said there is hope among many institutions and organizations that Science Without Borders will continue beyond the announced four-year duration.
While enthusiasm for this bold initiative is high among the Canadian and Brazilian university presidents today, no one is pretending that there are no barriers to overcome in maximizing two-way student mobility between our countries. Perhaps topping that list is language.
Participants at the Science Without Borders session encouraged opportunities for Brazilian students to benefit from language training before embarking on an academic experience at a Canadian university, and for Canadian students in Portuguese before coming to Brazil.
Last week I was contacted by a journalist writing a story about the Brazil mission and she wondered aloud whether Canadian high schools should start offering students opportunities to learn Portuguese. With Brazil poised to become the world’s fifth largest economy, and the promise of increased collaboration in higher education and trade between Canada and Brazil in the years ahead, that’s another question worthy of discussion.