The Brazilian government has won serious praise in recent years thanks to its Science Without Borders study abroad program but a recent misstep has prompted some to question its integrity. The government-backed academic exchange program, which was first launched in 2011, was designed to help more than 100,000 of the country’s science and technology students pursue coursework in universities abroad. Unfortunately, poor language skills – and logistical oversights – recently led to the recall of more than a 100 students from Canada and Australia.
How It Happened
As part of the exchange scheme qualified students are asked to rank their first, second, and third choice study abroad locations, which are then assigned according to availability. Unfortunately, a disproportionate number of students listed Portugal (where students would be able to study using their native Portuguese) as their first choice and English-speaking nations like Canada and Australia (where they would need to demonstrate their English proficiency) as their second and third choices. As a result students without the requisite language skills were sent to study in English-only institutions. Although many were enrolled in English Immersion Programs to help them improve their skills, this cohort was nevertheless turned back for failing to meet the necessary entry requirements. In all, more than 80 have been called back from Canada and another 30 from Australia.
Not The First Time
Nor is this the first time such a problem has affected the program. In August 2012, more than 100 Brazilian students who failed to meet the UK Border Agency’s English proficiency requirements were instead sent to the US to study. Things are more serious for this most recent group who will not only have to pay the early termination fees associated with breaking their interrupted arrangements abroad but will return to Brazil to find the semester underway. Instead of a semester abroad many may find themselves a semester behind.