Vikki Chalon of the UK HE International Unit updates Matt Salusbury about how Brazil’s Ciencia sem Fronteiras (CsF) programme is working
The most recent report we could find on CsF and the UK was from late April last year, shortly after UK business secretary Vince Cable went to Brazil. Are there any updates since then about take-up or possible expansion?
We have completed the placement of the fifth CsF UK undergraduate cohort, which will start in September 2014. The numbers have grown from 519 in September 2012 to over 2,700 students just placed. Of these, just over 900 will be undertaking pre-sessional English courses of either three or six months. This brings the total number of CsF students who will have studied in the UK to over 8,500 including PhDs and post-docs. The UK is the second most popular destination of the 36 countries taking part.
Over 85 universities regularly participate in the scheme. Because of the forthcoming elections in Brazil, the Brazilian funding agencies have not yet confirmed whether further calls will take place this year. However, given how high profile the programme is in Brazil and how successful it has been we anticipate that the programme will continue, although the model could be different in the future.
Are these pre-sessional courses fully funded?
They are fully funded by the Brazilian government. These courses have helped increase the number of Brazilian students who have been able to participate in the CsF UK programme. Of the 2,700 students placed in this last call over 900 will be undertaking pre-sessional English language courses of three or six months.
Has there been any feedback from CsF students to date on whether six months is enough to get up to an Ielts of at least 6, which is the lowest band score we’ve heard for an undergraduate science degree in the UK?
The boundaries we set for CsF students to be eligible for a six-month pre-sessional English course are in most cases higher than the minimum scores requested by some universities who offer six-month pre-sessional courses. This is to minimise the risk of students not achieving the required scores at the end of their pre-sessional course.
Do CsF students have to do their pre-sessional courses at the language centre of a UK CsF-participating university?
Yes, this is correct.
Can CsF students do funded English courses at private language schools, for example? I looked at the long list of participating universities, and I’m not sure every one of them even has a language centre of its own.
Almost all universities have their own English language centre and those that don’t will have an affiliated language centre close by that they work with to deliver the courses. For student welfare and pastoral care reasons, students undertake their pre-sessional course at the same university that they have chosen to study at.
Does the CsF programme also fund in-sessional courses for students who have met the minimum requirements, but who still need or ask for English language support while studying?
In-sessional English language courses are offered to international students alongside their course at most universities. If availability permits, then students who already have the minimum English language level are certainly permitted, and indeed in many cases encouraged to take advantage of this in-country English language support.