By AARON YNCLAN, Staff Writer
Following his recruitment trip to Brazil in May 2013, Randy Dillard and the Office of International Affairs have established a blossoming relationship between the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Brazil that is expected to flourish.
When he was first brought on just over a year ago, Dillard was tasked with assisting in developing new, broader strategies for attracting more international students. Brazil was one of the first recruitment trips to make, and it was, in his opinion, one of the smartest moves the office made.
“The reason that particular country was one of the first recruitment trips was because we were looking at new markets outside of India and China,” said Dillard.
“India, China, and South Korea bring, nationally and globally, well over 40 percent of the international students that travel. [They] are huge countries by themselves, and many students from those countries go to other universities to study abroad in U.S., the UK, and Australia. Latin America, with its proximity and the amount of trade we do with the countries, and Brazil in particular, [made it appropriate].”
One of the biggest factors that contributed was the formation of the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program (BSMP).
“About two-to-three years ago, the country of Brazil launched a huge higher education initiative where the government of Brazil was going to be funding full scholarships for undergraduate students to begin to study abroad,” said Dillard.
“They’re looking at sending 100,000 undergraduate, Brazilian students to study abroad. So that really determined, in terms of looking at a new market outside of China and India, looking at a country that had a lot of movement and commitment and will, Brazil appeared to be the country to investigate. And with that trip, it ended up being a smart call.”
One of the most prevalent themes that Dillard pressed on was “student mobility” and the Institute of International Education (IIE).
With student mobility he referenced the ever-expanding global market, and how most career services now request that students have spent some time studying abroad during their school years to become more affiliated with foreign systems and cultures. For UM-Dearborn, it became a matter of how does the university build partnerships and connect with students and foreign colleges. One of the biggest stepping-stones for that was through the IIE’s International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP).
In a statement issued from the IIE, the schools chosen will “participate in a year-long program comprised of training activities designed to assist each institution in implementing and sustaining partnerships with counterparts in Brazil.”
In addition, representatives from the schools will participate in a week-long study tour to Brazil this coming spring to learn more about the higher-education systems of Brazil and “meet with potential partner campuses.” Currently, this trip is slated to take place in two weeks for various members of the UM-Dearborn staff.
This was a particularly noteworthy accomplishment as UM-Dearborn was one of only 16 U.S. campuses selected to participate, alongside other colleges like Wayne State University, Dartmouth College, and Western New Mexico University.
The Office of International Affairs has no intentions of slowing down either, as they are hoping to continue to explore and develop not only future partnerships, but also those that they currently have.
“If you look up partnership in the dictionary, partnership is reciprocity. So I think continuing to work hand-in-hand and learn from an institution and international education but stay active in the communication is a partnership. I have been critical in my learning and so far with the program, and so continuing to learn from their years of global expertise, I think, is vital,” Dillard said.