Brazil: Science without Borders

The University of Cambridge, through the Cambridge Overseas Trust (COT), has recently formalised an agreement with Brazil’s Federal Agency for the Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES). Under the terms of this agreement, the Brazilian Government will support 20 new PhD students per year studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics at Cambridge. The scholarships, which will be administered in Cambridge by COT, are offered for up to four years. COT and CAPES have agreed to five annual intakes in the first instance, beginning in 2012-2013. There are already 12 agreed candidates who will take up their scholarships at Cambridge in October 2012.

The agreement was signed by Michael O’Sullivan, Director of the Cambridge Overseas Trust, and Dr Jorge Almeida Guimarães, President of CAPES. It was framed as part of the Brazilian government’s international mobility scheme, Ciência sem Fronteiras (Science without Borders), launched in July 2011 by President Dilma Rouseff. Under this ambitious programme, which aims to increase Brazil’s scientific base, the Brazilian government expects to send abroad some 75,000 students, with an additional 26,000 students funded by Brazilian industries. Some 10,000 of those students (mostly undergraduates on one-year placements) are expected to arrive in the UK over the next four years.

COT, which in 2011 signed an agreement with CAPES pre-dating Science without Borders to co-fund PhDs in all areas, will continue to co-finance non-STEM PhDs for Brazilians under that original agreement. Cambridge and CAPES now intend to use that programme exclusively to support non-STEM PhDs. This gives a boost to Cambridge’s Arts, Humanities and Social Science PhD recruitment from Brazil.

Taken together, the two COT/CAPES agreements mean there is now full funding provision for 30 new Brazilian PhD students a year, with potentially over ninety of them in residence at any given time –a significant increase from 2010-11, when there were only 20 Brazilian PhD students in residence at Cambridge. According to Michael O’Sullivan, Director of the Cambridge Overseas Trust, “Once these scholarship programmes are fully on stream, the Brazilian Government's level of support for its graduate students at Cambridge will be second to none.  That is a very significant and rapid development in our University's international relations.”

The University of Cambridge has a rich tradition of academic exchange and scientific cooperation with Brazil, which it considers of strategic importance to its research community. It is expected that this agreement through the Science without Borders programme will strengthen Cambridge’s ties with Brazilian higher education and research institutions.