Brazilian government suspends international tech scholarships

Dollar hike and recession prompt review of the program

The Brazilian government is suspending one of its flagship education programs as a consequence of the recession the country is currently experiencing.

Science without Borders (SwB) - a large-scale nationwide scholarship program launched in 2011 with the goal of sending Brazilian students to top foreign universities in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and creative industries - will cease for an indefinite period of time, the Ministry of Education said.

The 35,000 scholarships awarded to students that are currently abroad will be maintained. The revelation came during a session of the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child.

About R$ 6.4bn ($1.5bn) were spent on SwB in its first four years. Some 87.364 scholarships were awarded, of which 68.862 were given to undergraduate students spending one year in universities worldwide.

The dollar hike in relation to the Brazilian currency, the real, has increased the cost of sending students overseas. In addition, the Ministry of Education stated that the government is revising the goals of its programs "considering the economic reality of the country."

The Science without Borders program was renewed last year to offer 100,000 scholarships until the end of 2018 - the initial goal was to provide 101,000 students with opportunities until the end of 2014.

Earlier this year, the government announced that it would reduce the scope of its education initiatives. This included SwB, as well as the National Program for Access to Technical Education and Employment (Pronatec), which has focused on low-income young Brazilians and has played an important role in creating entry-level skills to fill the country's existing expertise gap in the IT sector.