Earlier this week, the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology announced a major new plan to grant scholarships to Brazilian students who want to study in foreign universities.
The scholarship offer is a part of the ‘Science without borders’ program and offers 100,000 scholarships for exchange students, from high school children up to post-doctoral researchers. The federal government will meet the cost of 75% of the scholarships with private sector support for the remainder.
The intention of the program is to focus the next four years on the promotion and advancement of science and technology, and improving the competitiveness of Brazil. Priority areas for the program include engineering, the sciences, computing, agriculture, aerospace, oil & gas, and other technologies – natural choices as they are all fast growing industries in Brazil with a need for more trained people.
An interesting statistic revealed by science and technology minister Aloizio Mercadante when he announced the scholarships on Monday is that the number of Brazilian humanities graduates in 2009 grew by 66% compared to 2001. In that same period, the number of engineering graduates increased by only 1%.
This is in stark contrast to other fast developing nations, such as India and the Philippines, where graduate choices are heavily skewed to computing, science, and engineering – vocational subjects, the kind of subjects that will help you get a job, the kind of subjects that will help you get into B-school.
It could be argued that these nations will have different issues in the future if young people choose to only ever read engineering textbooks rather than literature, but right now Brazil has a shortage of people entering industry with the right qualifications for the industries that are growing.
Hopefully this new announcement from the government can go some way towards steering people into studying subjects that are needed and giving them more international exposure at a young age.
Photo by Evil Yoda licensed under Creative Commons