Anna White, Director ABCC Queensland
One of the great success stories in the Australia-Brazil bilateral relationship – international education and training – was the theme of the ABCC’s latest Business Briefing and Networking event in Brisbane in March. Study Queensland generously hosted the event and the then Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk delivered the key note address highlighting the importance of international education and training to Queensland. With over 12,000 Brazilians currently studying in Queensland, the Lord Mayor emphasised the role that international education experiences can play in building lasting relationships with investors and entrepreneurs of the future.
Brisbane City Council has introduced a range of measures to support international education and training including appointing International Student Ambassadors and expanding its internship programs to create greater opportunities for international students. In 2015, the Council reduced infrastructure charges for certain student accommodation developments to encourage greater provision across the city.
After hearing from Lord Mayor Quirk, the ABCC was delighted to be joined by a panel of experts comprising Shannon Willoughby, Executive Director of Study Queensland, Professor Stuart Bunn from Griffith University, Professor Asantha Goonetilek from QUT and Professor Gary Schenk from the University of Queensland. Honorary Consul of Brazil in Queensland, Valmor Morais, also shared his reflections throughout the panel discussion.
The panel shared their experience and insights into the strategic research partnerships which have been established between Australian and Brazilian universities in recent years since the conclusion of the Science Without Borders program in late 2015. Some partnerships have been facilitated through the Program of Internationalization of Higher Education – or “PRINT” – which was launched in 2018 by the Brazilian Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES) with a focus on the two-way movement of postgraduate students. Others have developed through the targeted coordination of joint efforts here and in Brazil.
While Brazilian universities have traditionally looked north to their American counterparts to collaborate on research projects, they are increasingly engaging with Australian institutions given the similar climate, environment and health impacts across the two countries. The Panel identified key growth areas in which Australian universities could further promote their expertise to Brazilian universities and direct to Brazilian governments and agencies, including water management, environmental management, resource management, biomass conversion and sustainable farming (particularly cattle breeding).
Access to government grants to support bilateral research projects in Australia is limited and there appears to be scope for alternative options to be explored, such as leveraged funding models. There also appears to be scope to expand internship programs which would enhance and deepen each student’s international experience.
Brisbane’s liveability and relaxed lifestyle hold great appeal to Brazilian students. Outside of structured university programs, student support services such as The Brisbane Study Hub and The Gold Coast Student Hub provided by Study Queensland and Study Gold Coast respectively provide essential services to Brazilian international students, particularly those undertaking English language courses.
With a move to increasingly targeted and specialised partnerships and a strong focus on academic performance, opportunities for Brazilian post-graduate students will continue to strengthen in Australia.
This article was originally published on the May/June ABCC Newsletter.