IELTS and Science without Borders show way to UK The message is: there are more openings than qualified applicants so far for the opportunity to exchange in the UK through the Science without Borders program according to Universities UK representative in Brazil, Jacqueline Wilkins. Much of her talk at the National Week of Science and Technology in Brazil, was devoted to showing the ways for stakeholders to overcome the language barrier, highlighting it as the main reason for this difference so far. More than 60 people, most appearing to be in the under 20 age range, attended the event.
The session is just one of Universities UK in Brazil events of the season, which began in September and provides over 80 different activities until March 2013. According to Jacqueline, also a consultant in Education at the British Embassy in Brazil, there are only 600 undergraduate students applying for almost two thousand vacancies starting in January. Those already selected by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (NCSTD) and the Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CIHEP) are based on transcripts, the priority area, and in English language proficiency, among other criteria.
The two agencies are responsible for implementing the federal program. The general requirement is not to be 100% fluent in English, but to a level that allows the user to grasp the content, ask questions, produce texts, and take notes. It takes IELTS band 5.5 or the equivalent in TOEFL to show this level of competency. She commented that some institutions require superior performance in terms of linguistic resourcefulness depending on the particular course.
Bilateral agreements involving Ciencias sin Fronteras (CsF) created facilities for those who need to strengthen this front, such as studying the language simultaneously or (from June 2013) two to three months earlier, already being in the destination country. In a context of immersion, this can amount to two or three years in a language school in Brazil. She recommends that anyone who will apply based on their English test results to multiple sites should seek to enhance their English language skills in advance of arriving if necessary.
According to the British representative, the visa provided for scholarships is very simple. She points out, however, that this expense is not covered by the program, which costs £230 pounds, about 800 reais at today’s exchange rate. Jacqueline Wilkins also notes that the Brazilian educational institutions are raising awareness in order to provide some flexibility to undergraduates in return. They stay abroad until September and in Brazil the semester begins in August.
Overall, the UK-Brazil relationship is a very favorable situation at the moment, said the British ambassador in Brazil, Alan Charlton, who also spoke to the audience in SNCT on the exchange. It highlights the visits made by President Dilma Rousseff and Prime Minister David Cameron, the exchange of experiences with regard to major sporting events and cooperation in science, technology and innovation. “I see this as the most important sector for the growth of the relationship between us in the future”, he says, adding that the UK has more partnerships with the Foundation for Research Support of the State of São Paulo (FRSSP) than any other country.
We have some of the best universities in the world, and the idea with the Brazilian government's Science without Borders program was to provide the opportunity to study at institutions such as these. But the gain goes further: it is an incredible international experience. We have many Chinese students, Indians, and Americans who all have the opportunity to visit many museums and theaters, and of course, the dominance of English is an essential tool in any industry. In this aspect, he believes that the graduates from other regions, like Asia, are more prepared. Charlton says that the visibility of SwB promoted collaborations between institutions and other British and Brazilian companies, and an initiative to train teachers is being negotiated with the Brazilian government.
Anyone who wants more information can access the sites ciencias sin fronteras and Science without Borders UK and www.ielts.org