Northern Brazilian Universities Discuss Internationalisation Strategies

(15.01.19) In December, representatives of various research institutions in northern Brazil met in Belém in the state of Pará to discuss internationalisation in the region. The meeting was initiated by the Germany-Brazil Network for the Internationalisation of Higher Education (Rebralint) and was held at the Federal University of Pará (UFPA). The organisations invited to give presentations included the DFG Office Latin America and DAAD Brazil.

Palestrantes do I Encontro Regional Norte da Rebralint

Palestrantes do I Encontro Regional Norte da Rebralint

© Rebralint

Although Brazil’s northern region makes up around 42% of the country’s total area and comprises seven federal states, only 10 of the country’s 68 federal universities are situated there. With the exception of the Federal University of Amazonas, they are all only a few decades old, which the representatives of the universities of Roraima and Amapá identified as one of the biggest challenges in relation to internationalisation. The two institutions were founded in 1989 and 1990 respectively, and are still at an early stage of development in postgraduate training and research. This is reflected in statistics: according to partner organisation CAPES, just 8,000 doctoral researchers were trained in the north in 2016, a figure 89% lower than in the south-east of the country in the same period.

Given that all institutions in the north of Brazil face similar difficulties in their efforts to internationalise, it was proposed at the meeting that dialogue between the universities should be stepped up. One difficulty is the fact that international cooperation is often initiated by individual researchers instead of being documented and continuously promoted at institutional level. It was therefore decided to register ongoing collaborations and identify strategic fields of research in order to allow joint activities and networks to be established.

Another part of the meeting was devoted to the presentation of international partnerships. One of these was MADAM – Mangrove Dynamics and Management, a research project financed by Brazilian funding organisation CNPq and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). In this interdisciplinary project, UFPA and the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) conducted a 10-year study in the municipality of Bragança in Pará to better understand the use and dynamics of mangrove forests on the coast of northern Brazil.

Prof. Dr. Iracilda Sampaio, Head of the Office of the Vice-Rector for Research and Postgraduate Studies at UFPA, explained that the project contributed not only to the development of relations with Germany but also to the creation of a calendar for the harvesting of crabs in the region. “The findings from MADAM on the reproductive cycle of a number of crab species influenced new legislation – that makes us very proud,” she said.