Buoyed by Brazil

July 21, 2011

You recently referred to The Observer's coverage of the visit to Brazil by David Willetts, the universities and science minister, and several UK university representatives (The Week in Higher Education, 14 July). The brief article served only to reinforce the newspaper's incorrect assumption that those participating in the visit were there to recruit fee-paying Brazilian students to boost institutional funds.

The visit instead offered a unique opportunity to meet with Brazilian government and education officials to agree on a broad framework of international partnership activity (which may include a scholarship programme modelled on the successful UK-India Education and Research Initiative). The intention was to forge stronger higher education links between Brazil and the UK.

Following the visit, we hope to create new opportunities for British students and staff with one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

UK universities are leaders in world-class collaborative activity, ranging from staff and student mobility to research and knowledge exchange. Visits such as this should be seen as a vital part of ensuring that the UK remains at the forefront of an increasingly competitive international academy.

Joanna Newman, Director, UK HE International Unit Universities UK

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