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ASU among top universities attracting Brazilian students

students sitting around a table
November 25, 2013

Arizona State University now ranks third among 346 U.S. higher education institutions hosting Brazilian students as part of the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program Scholarship, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE), one of the world’s largest international education and training nonprofit organizations.

IIE also named ASU’s American English and Culture Program (AECP) the nation’s top English as a Second Language training program where the students can improve their English language skills before enrolling in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses, as part of the BSMP scholarship award.

Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff launched the yearlong international scholarship program in 2011 to boost scientific research, invest in and promote educational resources within Brazil and outside of the country, encourage international collaboration in STEM fields, and engage students in a global conversation through international education. The first group of students arrived in the United States in January 2012.

ASU has hosted 100 Brazilian students as part of the scholarship program thus far. In addition to BSMP, IIE administers some of the nation’s most prestigious scholarly awards, including the flagship Fulbright Program and Gilman Scholarships administered for the U.S. Department of State.

“We are delighted that ASU ranks third and that ASU’s American English and Culture Program is the top-ranked English as a Second Language program among U.S. universities hosting Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program students,” said Julia Rosen, associate vice provost and head of ASU’s Brazilian initiatives. “We attribute this growth to making the students and their needs our primary focus. ASU is a world-renowned school located in an affordable, vibrant metro region."

As of fall 2013, ASU has 23 Brazilian students enrolled in STEM majors – engineering being the most popular, followed by biology. Another 59 students are enrolled in an Intensive English Program at AECP to hone their language skills before beginning the 12-month academic period. Last year, 21 students participated in the science scholarship program.

“As part of the scholarship program, the students are also encouraged to engage in meaningful internships in their field of study,” said Kent Hopkins, vice provost of enrollment management at ASU. “Last year, our BSMP students trained at renowned organizations, including the Boeing Company, GE Transportation, Fender Music Foundation and various academic departments at ASU. In addition to their academic pursuits, the students can choose to participate in over 1,000 student organizations to enhance their campus experience.”

According to Hopkins, a focus group conducted with BSMP participants last year revealed that the students enjoyed their stay at ASU, and were surprised and delighted by the educational community’s friendliness and inclusiveness. He said the university also feels the advantages of hosting the students.

“Our Brazilian exchange students are smart and hard-working, and the perfect addition to our already diverse community,” Hopkins said. “We envision a culturally-rich environment for ASU and we continue to diversify the country composition of incoming international students over the next few years. Our Brazilian community is contributing to that diversification.”

Institutions of higher education in Brazil nominate their undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students for the Brazilian Science Mobility Program, who are then placed in various U.S. universities by IIE after a thorough review process. The scholarship winners earn academic credits at U.S. institutions toward their Brazilian degree.

“I have been at ASU for only six months on the BSMP scholarship and thus far, the experience has been amazing,” says João Paulo Faria Tasso, a University of Brasília doctoral student studying sustainable tourism at ASU’s School of Community Resources and Development. “I am benefitting from my time spent here interacting with the excellent faculty and my peers. That, coupled with the resources available for international students like me, makes me feel at home.”

Hopkins says the scholarship program opens doors for mutually beneficial partnerships for the future.

“Studying at ASU gives the visiting Brazilian students a multicultural experience and shapes them as global leaders who will continue to make a positive impact,” Hopkins said. “In return, the program increases visibility for the university and the state of Arizona, and enhances the number of opportunities to develop research and innovation partnerships with Brazilian public and private institutions.”