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The profile of the international cooperation university manager in Brazil/O perfil do gestor universitario de cooperacao internacional no Brasil.


Interest and debate about the internationalization of higher education has increased in the globally from the 1990s with the diffusion of the globalized economy. Since then, the issue has aroused the attention of university institutions, national governments, multilateral agencies, and international organizations involved with the educational sector. The concept has also been a recurrent object of scientific research in the hope of broadening the understanding of a notoriously complex phenomenon that implies different motivations, stages, forms of expression, and consequences (Knight, 2004, 2015; Altbach & Knight, 2007; Childress, 2009; Lima & Contel, 2011; GacelAvila, 2012; Altbach & De Wit, 2015).

If understood more broadly, the process of university internationalization involves, in addition to practical aspects such as international cooperation and academic mobility, operational, structural, and pragmatic changes in the institutions involved, requiring the formulation of policies and the implementation of strategies (Childress, 2009; Hudzik, 2011; Gacel-Avila, 2012; Nafsa, 2015). In this conception, it must integrate itself with institutional missions and strategic planning and be supported by leaders, teachers, students, and all academic service and support units (Hudzik, 2011; Gacel-Avila, 2012; Nafsa, 2015).

University managers play an elementary function in policy decisions and the development of strategic plans for internationalization (Childress, 2009; Nafsa, 2015). Such plans are an important resource for the process of institutionalization because they serve as: a roadmap to operationalize university internationalization; a vehicle to stimulate the engagement of key participants; a mechanism to explain the meaning and goals of internationalization in the university community; and a means of developing interdisciplinary collaboration between the different departments of the institution (Childress, 2009).

Despite the consensus that globalization has transformed educational systems and university structures--having moved from the edge to the center of institutional interest (Hudzik, 2011; Gao, 2014; Gacel-Avila, 2012; Knight, 2015)--and the significant amount of studies developed around it, (3) research proposing specifically to investigate the management of this process within the university, and, above all, university managers responsible for international cooperation, has so far been limited.

Considering this framework and the understanding that the development of significant internationalization processes, adjusted to the realities and objectives of universities and the countries involved, the action of well-trained management professionals is required, among other things. This article has the purpose of studying international cooperation managers of federal universities in Brazil.

This research is descriptive and presents an overview of international cooperation managers of Brazilian public universities, outlining initial observations about an unexplored subject in Brazil (4). It should be emphasized that this kind of study has special relevance in countries of the Global South (5), which still face structural challenges in terms of access, equity, quality, and importance (Gacel-Avila, 2012) and tend to be passive in the context of internationalization, "providing brains, financial resources, and buying educational products" from countries in which internationalization takes a more active role (Lima & Contel, 2011, p. 16).

The sample covered the 46 universities linked to the Brazilian Association of International Education (Faubai). We developed documentary research using websites of the offices for international affairs of these institutions and the Lattes curriculums of managers. The text is organized as follows: after this introduction, an overview of internationalization in contemporary higher education is presented. After, we study the management of internationalization at the institutional level and international cooperation managers. The study also contemplates the adopted methodological procedures and discussion and analysis of the results obtained. Lastly, we provide our final thoughts.


2.2 The internationalization of higher education: concepts, opportunities, and challenges.

Universities have always be classified as international institutions. From their origins, they have attracted professors from different countries, developed partnerships with institutions around the world, and received international students on their campuses. It was in the early 1990s, however, with the spread of economic globalization, that international cooperation in higher education expanded at an unprecedented speed and that the term internationalization began to be used. Internationalization is usually seen as a measure of quality and a resource for academic institutions in meeting the challenges of a complex global context (Unesco Brasil, 2003; Hudzik, 2011; Gacel-Avila, 2012; Altbach & De Wit, 2015).

Despite the popularity of internationalization, there is no consensus about its meaning or standardized template for universities to follow (Knight, 2015). Several studies point to the complexity inherent in the phenomenon as well as the difficulties of understanding it in depth (Knight, 2004, 2015; Lima & Contel, 2011). This is, in part, due to the lack of indicators to measure the performance of internationalization at the institutional level (Gao, 2014) as well as the multidisciplinarity inherent in the concept. As Lima and Contel (2011, our translation) argue, there is a "diversity of areas of knowledge involved in the exercises that aim to understand and explain the process of internationalization of higher education, signaling difficulty in understanding it through a single disciplinary reading" (p.13).

In general, internationalization is associated with different activities conducted by universities both inside and outside of campuses (Ewert, 2012; Gao, 2014; Stafford & Taylor, 2016), such as: establishing international agreements/covenants, promoting international academic mobility, and conducting collaborative international activities (Knight, 2015). The indicators most commonly associated with the internationalization of education are academic mobility and internationalization of the curriculum; those most associated with research are cross-border research projects and collaborative publications (Ewert, 2012).

A widely accepted definition is provided by Knight (2004, 2015), who conceives internationalization as a process related to the integration of international, intercultural, and global dimensions to the purposes, primary functions, and delivery of higher education at institutional and national levels. From this author's perspective (Knight, 2004), internationalization needs to be understood at these two levels, because even if the process occurs within universities, the national education sector significantly influences internationalization through financing, policies, programs, and regulations.

Another recurring trend is to consider internationalization as a means to an end. From this standpoint, it adopts instrumental value: it is a way to attain or improve academic, sociocultural, political, or economic goals, being driven, therefore, by a variety of motives, which in many cases complement each other (Knight, 2004; Childress, 2009; Hudzik, 2011; Gacel-Avila, 2012; Altbach & De Wit, 2015; Muckenberger & Miura, 2015; Seeber et al., 2016).

In terms of academic goals, internationalization is often pointed to as a resource for improving academic quality; prestige and international reputation; and expanding academic and institutional development horizons. It also refers to a life and work preparation mechanism for students in a global market of products, services, and ideas (Knight, 2004; Hudzik, 2011; Muckenberger & Miura, 2015; Seeber et al., 2016).

Despite the opportunities offered by globalization, commonly emphasized in reports and articles on the subject (Lima & Maranhao, 2011), there are contradictions and challenges that arise in this context. These are largely due to the preponderance of economic motivations in international higher education, which results in consequences such as decreases in public funding for this sector in most countries (Altbach & Knight, 2007; Lima & Contel, 2011; De Wit, 2011; Altbach & De Wit, 2015; Reitz, 2017).

Phenomena like Global North hegemony in the receipt of mobility flows and "brain drain" mainly affect the countries of the South, which are not well prepared to capitalize on the creation and use of knowledge (Unesco Brasil, 2003). In general, these nations tend to assume a passive character in the context of internationalization and end up becoming fertile ground for commerce (Lima & Contel, 2011). Their education systems face structural challenges, especially in terms of access, equity, quality, and importance, but also in relation to university structure and administration (Gacel & Avila, 2008; Gacel-Avila, 2012).

In this respect, Gacel and Avila (2008), in their research on the conditions of Latin American universities regarding the challenges of internationalization, there are shortcomings in both private and public institutions. In the first case, centralized management is predominant, with little professor participation. In the second, managers are elected primarily by political forces, which generally results in a high level of improvisation in management while inhibiting the participation of society in decisions. Gacel-Avila (2012) argues that employees responsible for international activities tend to have a low level of professionalism and expertise, which leads to the "lack potential for the conception, design, implementation, and promotion of internationalization policies and strategies" (p. 504).

The presented framework--the growing importance of internationalization; the complexity of the concept; the multiplicity of motivations that drive it; the opportunities that it provides to academic institutions and communities; and the emerging challenges that mainly impact the South--evokes the development of analyses on the management of internationalization at the institutional level and, specifically, on managers responsible for controlling this process. Such managers play an essential role in the elaboration of institutional internationalization plans and can contribute to the process's development.

2.2 Internationalization management and the role of international cooperation managers

Despite the significant amount of studies on internationalization, so far there has been scant research that specifically investigates the management of this process in universities (Said et al., 2015; Stafford & Taylor, 2016) and, above all, the profile of managers responsible for international cooperation. As Said et al. (2015) argues, "it is understood that internationalization has established its importance in today's highly globalized world. However, there is less research that highlights the role of leadership and administration in managing internationalization" (p. 82). Notwithstanding, it is important to recognize that several studies consider the performance of managers and institutional leaders as a critical factor to the success of internationalization (Nafsa, 2015; Stafford & Taylor, 2016).

If understood more broadly as a process of institutional transformation, internationalization does not imply only operational alternations, but also structural and pragmatic changes in the institutions involved. University managers play a crucial role in this context and influence all the stages of this process: awareness, commitment, planning, implementation, review, and monitoring (Childress, 2009; Hudzik, 2011; Said et al., 2015). In this regard, it should be mentioned that the Association of International Educators (Nafsa) has identified the skills necessary for university management teams in relation to what it considers the five major areas of international education management: a) comprehensive internationalization; b) education abroad; c) international enrollment management; d) international student and scholar services; e) crosscutting competencies (Nafsa, 2015).

Presidents, deans, offices for international affairs, and individuals responsible for managing the internationalization are considered key internal drivers (International Association of Universities, 2010; Castro, Rosa, & Pinho, 2015). This evidence is ratified in the empirical research of Childress (2009) about facilitators and obstacles to the development of internationalization in universities. Childress (2009) found that the support of leaders--presidents and provosts or international education equivalents--is essential. They are influential participants because "with the support of institutional leaders came: a) fund-raising support for the implementation of an internationalization plan and b) credibility to implement curricular components of an internationalization plan" (Childress, 2009, p. 298). The absence of their support, on the other hand, represents an obstacle to the viability of the process because it causes internationalization to be of secondary concern (Childress, 2009; Hudzik, 2011; Said et al., 2015).

Also related to the facilitators and obstacles of internationalization management, Childress (2009) identifies hiring new provost or vice president as a difficulty. In addition, the author affirms that in cases that leaders had a personal investment in internationalization during their education, it was more likely that the development of a plan of internationalization at the university was supported.

With the centrality that they assume in this process, international cooperation managers must be able to perform a series of strategic functions, such as those raised by Childress (2010), Said et al. (2015), Nafsa (2015), and Stafford and Taylor (2016):

* identify and analyze available resources and forces to operationalize internationalization;

* effectively interact with other cultures, determine the nature and form of international partnerships, and establish reciprocal relationships with carefully selected partners;

* discern existing risks;

* recognize alternative sources for internationalization;

* examine the causes of the problems faced in the institutionalization process;

* emphasize university functions in the strategic planning of internationalization to ensure that general interests of universities prevail over the individual interests of the faculties;

* strategically evaluate the current effectiveness and sustainability of internationalization initiatives;

* anticipate what kind of effort will be needed for internationalization management in the future.

Another issue that is relevant to internationalization management is organizational structure, which must provide conditions to deal with the changes and challenges of the process. According to Said et al. (2015), who examined the role of university leaders in this process, there should be a unit responsible for facilitating and managing issues related to internationalization. In complement, Childress (2009) states that "decentralized organizational structures emerged as an obstacle to the development of internationalization plans" (p. 298).

The importance of offices that support international activities, as well as their functions, varies significantly (Hudzik, 2011). When internationalization is a low priority in the institutional agenda, they tend to have a low hierarchical position, usually reporting to provosts. On the other hand, when the process is more embedded in university missions, these offices tend to assume the character of provost for international affairs (Gacel-Avila, 2012).

Regarding the activities of the offices for international affairs, while some are limited to the management of exchanges and support of international students, others take responsibility for establishing partnerships with foreign institutions, manage language and cultural studies centers, seek sources of support and funding for research and projects abroad, and boost the internationalization of the curriculum on campus (Hudzik, 2011; Gacel-Avila, 2012). However, in practice these offices are rarely included in planning and decision-making related to research, teaching, curriculum, and human resources policies (Gacel-Avila, 2012).

To carry out their role in internationalization, such offices should be engaged in academic service and support units. The reason is that comprehensive internationalization demands the involvement of the entire academic community (Hudzik, 2011; GacelAvila, 2012; Nafsa, 2015). Certain issues, such as a lack of participation of professors, for example, bring challenges to the development of the process (Said et al., 2015), which means, in many cases, that the intention to internationalize never passes hyperbole (Childress, 2009; Gacel-Avila, 2012). In the words of Gacel-Avila (2012), "declarations made by education authorities on the importance of internationalization are mainly rhetorical and rarely yield strategies of change in institutional development" (p. 507).

In summary, in view of the increasing complexity of higher education and university management in front of the demands of internationalization--which reinforce the need for operational, structural, and pragmatic changes in the institutions involved--we can see that the managers responsible for international cooperation assume an essential role in this process.


In methodological terms, this documentary research is descriptive. The scope covered the 46 federal universities linked to Faubai because:

a) The association suggests the occurrence of at least some level of international activity in the institutions;

b) in theory, the structure of the universities is more extensive than those of the institutes and teaching centers--also present in the Brazilian higher education system;

c) government higher education policies regarding internationalization, for example have greater impact on federal institutions than on private or state universities.

The list of universities included in this research is presented in Table 1:

In terms of collection, data were retrieved from two sources in January 2016:

a) the website of the university offices for international affairs (where the names of the current international cooperation managers, the position of the office in the university structure, the activities carried out, and the size of the teams were identified);

b) the Lattes curriculum of the current international cooperation managers (from which other relevant information for the research were found).

In the analysis, five categories were established from the theoretical framework; however, the information available from selected sources and the practical experience of the authors in the internationalization of higher education were also considered, since few studies deal with internationalization management at the institutional level and, especially, university international cooperation managers. We recognize, therefore, that certain biases of the authors may be present in the analysis categories and in the analysis of the results.

We emphasize that no research specifically addressing the profile of international cooperation managers was identified. Accordingly, this study seeks to present an overview of the theme in relation to Brazilian public universities, tracing initial observations about an unexplored subject in Brazil that can give rise to the development of further research with alternative methodological resources.

The categories of analysis developed and their respective descriptions are listed in Table 2:

Data were arranged in a broad and comparative fashion in the tables and then analyzed, with contrasts being made with literature.

Regarding the areas of education, the areas of knowledge described in the categorization of the Higher Education Personnel Improvement Coordination (Capes, 2014) were used to facilitate analysis. In cases where there was further education, the most advanced degree or certificate was considered.

Lastly, we emphasize that the information present in the Lattes curriculums is provided by the users themselves. This means that certain information may not be included on the platform. Despite this limitation, it was found that most of the participants had made recent updates to their curriculums.


Positioning of the office for international affairs in the university structure

Regarding the existence of a specific unit responsible for facilitating and managing the issues related to university internationalization, the results showed that the structures of all institutions included in this study have this office within the university. The following classifications were found: a) coordination; b) advisory/special advisory; c) office/area/agency; d) office of the dean; e) superintendency; and f) secretariat/office of the provost. Of the 46 institutions, 10 (21,73%) have their international activities administered by the coordination; 16 (34,78%) by the advisory; two (4.34%) by an office or area; eight (17.39%) by the office of the dean; one (2.17%) by the superintendency; eight (17.39%) by the secretariat; and one (2.17%) by the office of the provost.

The data demonstrates that, in fact, at least a certain level of international activity must occur in these institutions. Moreover, these data confirm the findings of the literature, indicating that internationalization has acquired an increasing presence in university structures (Hudzik, 2011; Gao, 2014; Gacel-Avila, 2012; Knight, 2015).

However, the status and scope of the offices vary significantly and them occupying higher hierarchical positions (such as superintendency and secretariat or office of the provost) are rarer. The most recurrent types are advisories, which tend to refer to higher areas.

In this regard, one can relate the low hierarchical position of offices (Said et al., 2016) and the decentralization of the management of international activities (Childress, 2009) to the lack of priority that internationalization has in institutional agendas (Gacel-Avila, 2012). When the process is more embedded in university missions, these offices tend to centralize the management of activities--even if they are engaged with academic service and support units, including through management sub-units (Hudzik, 2011)--and occupy higher hierarchical positions.

Concerning the activities performed by these units, it was found that they vary depending on the institution (Hudzik, 2011). According to the information available on the websites of these offices, the most common activities were: management of international student mobility (both incoming and outgoing) and management of agreements or covenants of international cooperation. Internationalization programs, such as those related to receiving exchange students in family homes, were also common. We highlight that in seven institutions (15.21%), the office is also responsible for relations between national institutions, as in the case of the Federal University of Western Para (UFOPA) and the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ).

We also noted a certain standard regarding the size of teams of the analyzed offices, which on average consisted of five or six people, with two of them being responsible for the general administration of the office (secretary and deputy secretary, dean and vice dean, etc.). The most recurrent positions were administration assistant, translator/interpreter, and executive secretary.

Despite these peculiarities, in terms of university structure, the picture is positive: the existence of offices for internationalization management demonstrates a certain level of recognition and concern with this process.

In that regard, we consider that while there is a reduction of public funding for the education sector in most countries and pressure on universities to seek alternative forms of financing, in recent years the Brazilian government has promoted programs specifically aimed at the internationalization of higher education, such as Science Without Borders (CsF) and Languages Without Borders (IsF) (CsF, 2016; IsF, 2016).

In addition, the government released a special rubric to promote internationalization in public universities. The recommendation is that such a resource should be used to finance, among other actions, the "offer of and/or participation in training courses for teachers, managers, or administrators in international affairs at universities or in other institutions," as well as "paying registration fees for events on university internationalization in Brazil and abroad" (Ministry of Education, 2015, our translation).

Time in position of the current international cooperation managers

As some current managers did not mention this aspect in their Lattes curriculum, it was not possible to establish how long they have held the position. Among the 33 (71.74%) that included this information, just five have occupied the position for more than 10 years, one (3.03%) since 2005, and four (12.12%) since 2006. Twelve (36.36%) were appointed in the last five years, with three being even more recent: two (6.06%) in 2015 and one (3.03%) in January 2016.

This data suggests that in most cases the international cooperation managers of federal universities occupy the position for one or two terms (four or eight years), which is the time of validity of a president mandate. The latter case probably occurs when the president is re-elected, since the appointment is made by the top leader, as set out in the internal regulations of the Office for International Affairs (Sinter) at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), one of the institutions included in this research (Sinter, 2016, our translation): "Art. 3 Sinter will be headed by a secretary appointed by the president" (p. 1).

In this regard, it is important to note that changing managers and the hiring process are factors that hinder internationalization management, which must be linked to the universities' missions and strategic plans, as well as supported by the leaders (Childress, 2009; Hudzik, 2011; Gacel-Avila, 2012; Nafsa, 2015). It is therefore important that institutional policies and strategies in progress are not discontinued every four years with the change in managers. It should be remembered that, in many cases, the intention to internationalize never exceeds rhetoric (Childress, 2009; Gacel-Avila, 2012), and changes in institutional priorities can be one of the reasons why this occurs.

The position of the international cooperation manager in institutions and the accumulation of functions

As an administrative role, the international cooperation manager also occupies another position in the university. There are cases in which international cooperation managers choose to dedicate themselves exclusively to this function, while sometimes they may occupy two positions at the same time.

Regarding the positions of current managers, most (45 or 97.82%) are higher education professors. Only one, from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), is an administrative servant as well as a translator/interpreter.

It was observed that, in some cases, the function of international cooperation managers is carried out in parallel with other administrative duties. The advisor of the Federal University of Acre (UFAC), for example, also holds the position of vice president of the university, while the advisor of the Federal University of Campina Grande (UFCG) also holds the position of general coordinator of graduate studies. When internationalization is not a priority in the institutional agenda, the office for international affairs tends to be in a low position in the university hierarchy, and usually reports to academic provosts (Gacel-Avila, 2012).

The accumulation of responsibilities relating to the international area was a recurrent theme: many managers are also coordinators of CsF and IsF programs or coordinate other international programs. However, this is not a rule as in certain institutions there are other people or specific offices (linked to the offices for international affairs) responsible for the administration of these programs. At the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), for example, in addition to the dean and deputy dean, there is an international affairs advisor for language proficiency.

CsF and IsF, directly coordinated by many international cooperation managers, are programs sponsored by the federal government with a high level of demand in federal universities. The CsF-a international mobility program for Brazilian students (CsF, 2016)--granted more than 100,000 scholarships from 2010 to 2015 and demanded the fulfilment of various activities of their institutional coordinators for dissemination, pre-screening/homologation, follow-up, dialogue, monitoring, and evaluation (CsF, 2016a).

In turn, IsF-an internationalization program that applies proficiency tests and offers on-site and distance courses (IsF, 2016)--occurs only in federal universities and it is in full implementation/ expansion.

Regarding the accumulation of functions and positions, it is important to stress that all managers, except for the administrative servant, continue performing activities as a professor. This is because in their Lattes curriculum (which had been updated in 2015 or 2016), there are disciplines taught at the time of collection, recent scientific publications, names of master's/PhD applicants, and participation in thesis defense boards.

Aspects such as the accumulation of functions and the fact that all professors continue to develop the activities of their previous position seem unfavorable to the management of internationalization, since international cooperation managers influence every stage of its development and are therefore the most influential participants in the process (Castro, Rosa, & Pinho, 2015).

Area of study of the international cooperation managers and their personal experience with international activities

The administrative servant and all managers have PhDs, except one, the provost of the Federal University of Para (UFPA), whose maximum degree is specialist. These professors belong to the areas of knowledge presented in Table 3, developed based on the categorization of Capes (2014). To facilitate analysis, in cases where there was multidisciplinary education, only the last degree or certificate was considered.

As Table 3 demonstrates that international cooperation managers belong to different areas of knowledge that not necessarily relate to their activities.

Most of them belong to the area of languages and literature/linguistics, followed by agricultural sciences, exact and earth sciences, humanities, and engineering. The area with fewer managers was applied social sciences, followed by biological sciences and health sciences. However, there was no significant difference in the quantity of managers among the areas of knowledge.

It also notable that five managers presented multidisciplinary education in subareas with some association to international cooperation activities (international relations; economics; history; sociology; social sciences; administration; languages and literature; and language studies and applied linguistics), all belonging to the humanities; applied social sciences; or linguistics, languages and literature, and arts.

We believe that knowledge in different subjects of these areas provide conditions to be more critical and understand internationalization more comprehensively, which is necessary for universities in countries of the South, which tend to be passive in the context of globalization. We emphasize that several studies point to the complexity inherent in the phenomenon and the difficulties of understanding it deeply (Knight, 2004, 2015; Lima & Contel, 2011), in part due to its multidisciplinarity (Lima & Contel, 2011).

Table 4 names the institutions and the education of the five managers who have multidisciplinary education.

Moreover, data available in their Lattes curriculum suggest that professors whose subjects are somehow related to the responsibilities of the role are those that seem to go beyond their prescribed responsibilities. Such information indicates that there is a higher level of involvement in the internationalization process, including in research publications and in presentations at national and international events.

We believe that these activities may contribute to the propagation of globalization inside and outside of universities and promote institutional visibility at the international level, which favors the establishment of partnerships and collaborations. In this regard, responsibilities of international cooperation managers including determining the nature and forms of international partnerships and establish reciprocal relationships with carefully selected partners (Childress, 2010; Said et al., 2015; Nafsa, 2015; Stafford & Taylor, 2016). Theoretical knowledge about the phenomenon can be useful in the performance of functions and development of institutional plans, since they provide a broader understanding of the global scenario, such as opportunities and challenges of the process.

At the Federal University of Tocantins (UFT), for example, the dean studied linguistics applied to language teaching; researches higher education in relation to internationalization and the challenges of globalization; participates in a research project on UFT policies and processes of university internationalization; and occupied the position of CsF coordinator before becoming office head.

In the Federal University of Goias (UFG), the coordinator, from the area of languages and literature, has worked in Brazilian embassies in Belgium and the Ivory Coast; researches cultural studies; and participates in the international extension project called Transatlantic Lifelong Learning: Rebalancing Relations, in the Center for Canadian Studies, and the Africa Scientific Initiation Program.

Only nine managers (less than 20%) did not have any experience working or studying abroad. The rest had international experiences related to postgraduation (PhD/post-doctorate), internships, or being a visiting professor in a foreign university.

The dean of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), for example, received a PhD degree in Germany and was a visiting professor in Denmark, Spain, Germany, and China. The secretary of the Federal University of Espirito Santo (UFES), in turn, received a PhD degree in England and post-doctorate degree in France.

Managers' personal experience with international activities contributes to the management of internationalization. This is one of the reasons for their assignment to this position and evidence of their interest in this subject. As Childress (2009) argues, "when a senior leader had a personal investment in internationalization, that leader was more likely to support the development of an internationalization plan at his or her institution" (p. 298).

The participation of international cooperation managers in training related to internationalization management or university management

Lastly, regarding the participation of managers in training related to their duties, according to the information in their Lattes curriculum, only 15 (32.60%) have already participated in programs related to subjects, such as management and leadership, international negotiations, strategic planning, writing for business, and management updates.

Their participation in internationalization events is also rarely mentioned, although different events about the subject are held abroad and, in some cases--as in the annual conferences of Nafsa and the European Association for International Education (EAIE)--Faubai organizes delegations of associated universities. Thus, it is possible that some managers have participated in these events, but have not considered including this information in their curriculums a priority.

However, we consider that most managers of public Latin American universities are elected primarily through political forces (Gacel & Avila, 2008), which leads to the understanding that they are not necessarily interested in participating in training or events related to internationalization.

It should be highlighted that, in this regard, the appointment of well-trained managers and the development of their skill-set training through programs are positive factors in the internationalization process. In the context of federal universities, where manager turnover is relatively frequent, the training of the administrative staff is also essential. As Gacel-Avila (2012) points out, in Latin America employees responsible for international activities generally have a low level of professionalism and expertise.

Although, internationalization courses are rare in Brazil, some recent initiatives can be highlighted, such as: the annual conferences of Faubai; the Internationalization Forum of the State University of Sao Paulo (UNESP); the Seminar for the Internationalization of the Curriculum of the University of Vale do Itajai (UNIVALI); the Higher Education Internationalization Seminar of the State of Parana; and the international congress Internationalization of Knowledge from the Perspective of Higher Education Institutions of Northeastern Brazil. In addition, various associations and universities are leading certain actions: the Inter-American Organization for Higher Education (OUIIOHE), for example, hosts the program Diploma in Higher Education Internationalization. The University of Porto, in turn, annually held the UPorto International Staff Training Week, training targeted to professionals of universities around the world.


This article intended to produce a profile of international cooperation managers in federal universities in Brazil. Descriptive and documental research was carried out that used the websites of the offices for international affairs of these institutions and the Lattes curriculum of the managers. Analysis provided an opportunity to present an overview of the subject, as well as the exposure of initial observations about an unexplored subject in Brazil. This research is especially important in countries of the South, whose educational systems still face structural challenges (Gacel-Avila, 2012) and tend to be passive in the context of internationalization (Lima & Contel, 2011).

The scope of the research covered 46 universities linked to Faubai. We analyzed the categories: a) positioning of the office for international affairs in the university structure; b) the amount of time that the current international cooperation managers have occupied their positions; c) positions of the international cooperation managers in the institutions and the accumulation of functions; d) the area of study of the international cooperation managers and their personal experiences with international activities; and e) the participation of the international cooperation manager in training related to internationalization or university management.

The positioning of the office for international affairs in the university structure and the personal experience of managers with activities of an international nature were favorable aspects of internationalization management in these institutions. the first, because all the analyzed institutions have a specific unit responsible for facilitating and managing the issues related to the internationalization of the university, which, in the literature, is considered necessary to manage the changes and challenges inherent in this process (Childress, 2009; Said et al., 2015); the second, because most of current managers had study or work experiences abroad, doing a PhD/post-doctorate or technical work in an international entity, or being a visiting professor. There is evidence that personal experiences of the managers in international activities raise their interest in the development of internationalization plans at in the universities (Childress, 2009).

On the other hand, the evidence that managers, in most cases, occupy this position for a few years; are appointed primarily through political forces; amass positions and functions; do not have training in areas related to internationalization; and hardly participate in training on university management or internationalization, leads to the understanding that they are not necessarily well prepared to fulfill the role of facilitators in the development and implementation of policies and strategic plans for internationalization--activities which can contribute to internationalization to occur in a more active way within the university.

The literature points out that the performance of managers and institutional leaders is a critical factor to the success of internationalization (Nafsa, 2015; Stafford & Taylor, 2016). In this regard, even if the information contained here is limited to the websites of the offices for international affairs of universities and Lattes curriculum of managers, this study contributes to the expansion of knowledge on the theme by presenting an overview of the subject and, possibly, provoking further research.

We understand that the profile of the international cooperation manager corresponds to only one of the necessary points of reflection of this context. Thinking in terms of academic goals, the process of internationalization requires going beyond the increase in academic mobility or the creation of curriculums with international experience. The main goal is to improve higher education in terms of science, technology, innovation and, above all, values and citizenship, with legitimate interest in the development of countries, forming well-prepared individuals that can deal with the challenges of globalization.

Considering that any internationalization process is built and developed from the context of each educational system, it is understandable that the public universities of countries of the South--which tend to have weaker policies and strategic plans, budget limitations, inadequate structures, and a lack of well-prepared staff to deal with internationalization activities--need, above all, to raise their educational levels through innovative strategies and policies that monitor the social development needs of their people.

Further research of this area should: a) acknowledge the perceptions of international cooperation managers on the roles they play; b) identify key skills for this function and propose a general profile that meets the Brazilian context of internationalization; c) further analyze the university structures and offices for international affairs, including, for example, the analysis of institutional internationalization plans; and d) include private institutions in analysis.


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* Fernanda Geremias Leal is a doctoral student in the Postgraduate Program in Administration of the Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina (UDESC). She has a master's degree in administration from the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) and she works as executive secretary at the UFSC's International Office. She develops research in the areas of university management and internationalization of higher education, focusing on regional and south-south cooperation. E-mail:

* Rafaela Ribeiro Cespedes works as office coordinator at the UFSC's International Office since 2016. She has a bachelor's degree in Trilingual Executive Secretariat with qualification in Portuguese, English and French, and a MBA in Business Management, both from the Universidade Estadual de Maringa, Parana. She has practical experience in graduate studies management, exchange of international students, internationalization of higher education, and administrative management of international offices in higher education institution. E-mail:

* Luciane Stallivieri is a researcher on internationalization of higher education and international cooperation management at the Institute of Research and Studies in University Administration of UFSC. She is on her post-doctoral studies in Engineering and Knowledge Management at UFSC. She has a PhD in Modern Languages from University of Salvador, Argentina, and a master's degree in International Cooperation from Universidade Sao Marcos, Sao Paulo. E-mail:

Fernanda Geremias Leal (1A), Rafaela Ribeiro Cespedes (B) and Luciane Stallivieri (B)

(A) Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina--UDESC, Florianopolis, SC, Brazil

(B) Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina--UFSC, Florianopolis, SC, Brazil

(1) Author's contact: Email:

(2) Lattes is a Brazilian virtual platform designed and maintained by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). It integrates curriculums, research groups, and institutions in one information system.

(3) In January 2017, a search conducted in the Scopus database for the terms "internationalization" AND "higher education" from 2000 to 2016, showed a significant growth of publications on the subject over this period. In the year 2000, the Foundation identified seven publications. In the year 2016, it identified 228.

(4) Searches in the Portal de Periodicos Capes database in February 2017, for the terms "internacionalizacao" AND "educacao superior" AND "gestor/gestao/administracao" resulted in no articles that specifically address the management of internationalization at an institutional level or the role of the university manager in the process.

(5) The Global South is understood here "not as a geographic category, but as a group that contains so-called 'developing countries' (middle- and low-income countries)" (Leite, 2012, p. 4, our translation).

Tab. 1
Institutions included in the study

Region           University

North       1    Federal University of Tocantins (UFT)
            2    Federal University of Amazonas (UFAM)
            3    Federal Rural University of Amazonia (UFRA)
            4    Federal University of Acre (UFAC)
            5    Federal University of Para (UFPA)
            6    Federal University of Western Para (UFOPA)
            7    Federal University of Roraima (UFRR)
Midwest     8    Federal University of Goias (UFG)
            9    University of Brasilia (UNB)
            10   Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT)
            11   Federal University of Grande Dourados (UFGD)
Northeast   12   Federal University of Bahia (UFBA)
            13   Federal University of Maranhao (UFMA)
            14   Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE)
            15   Federal Rural University of Pernambuco (UFRPE)
            16   Federal University of Vale do Sao Francisco
            17   Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN)
            18   Federal University of Ceara (UFC)
            19   Federal University of Sergipe (UFS)
            20   Federal University of Paraiba (UFPB)
            21   Federal University of Campina Grande (UFCG)
            22   Federal University of Alagoas (UFAL)
Southeast   23   Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG)
            24   Federal University of Ouro Preto (UFOP)
            25   Federal University of Alfenas (UNIFAL)
            26   Federal University of Vicosa (UFV)
            27   Federal University of Sao Joao Del-Rei (UFSJ)
            28   Federal University of Uberlandia (UFU)
            29   Federal University of Espirito Santo (UFES)
            30   Federal University of Juiz de Fora (UFJF)
            31   Federal University of Lavras (UFLA)
            32   Federal University of Vales do Jequitinhonha and
                 Mucuri (UFVJM)
            33   Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
            34   Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ)
            35   Federal Fluminense University (UFF)
            36   Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro
            37   Federal University of Sao Paulo (UNIFESP)
            38   Federal University of ABC (UFABC)
            39   Federal University of Sao Carlos (UFSCAR)
South       40   Federal University of Parana (UFPR)
            41   Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC)
            42   Federal University of Fronteira Sul (UFFS)
            43   Federal University of Pelotas (UFPEL)
            44   Federal University of Santa Maria (UFSM)
            45   Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS)
            46   Federal University of Rio Grande (FURG)

Source: Elaborated by the authors from Faubai (2016).

Tab. 2
Categories of analysis

Category                         Description

a Positioning of the office      [] Existence of a specific unit
for international affairs in     responsible for facilitating and
the university structure         managing issues related to
                                 [] hierarchical positioning of the
                                 unit (office of the provost;
                                 secretariat, etc.);
                                 [] team size;
                                 [] summary of the activities
                                 undertaken by the office.

b Length of time that the        [] When the current managers started
current international            their positions.
cooperation managers have
occupied their positions

c International cooperation      [] Highest hierarchical position of
managers' positions in the       the managers;
institution and the              [] position originally occupied by
accumulation of functions        the managers at the institution
                                 (professor, technical support, etc.);
                                 [] simultaneous performance of other
                                 functions in the role of
                                 international cooperation manager;
                                 [] relation of such
                                 positions/functions with the role of
                                 international cooperation manager.

d Area of study of the           [] Managers' education
international cooperation        (undergraduate, master's degree,
managers and their personal      PhD);
experience with international    [] the managers' experience abroad
activities                       (post-doctorate, internship,
                                 exchanges, visiting professor) or in
                                 other international activities
                                 (participation in international
                                 research groups, development of
                                 research on internationalization).

e The participation of the       [] Manager participation in short
international cooperation        courses/training on topics related to
managers' in training related    internationalization management or
to internationalization          university management;
management or university         [] participation in education events
management                       on internationalization.

Source: Prepared by the authors

Tab. 3
Areas of knowledge of the international cooperation managers

Area of knowledge   Subarea of knowledge      Quantity

Agricultural        Agricultural sciences I   5 (10.86%)
sciences            Food science              1 (2.17%)    7 (15.21%)
                    Veterinary medicine       1 (2.17%)

Biological          Biological sciences II    3 (6.52%)    3 (6.52%)

Health sciences     Nursing                   1 (2.17%)    2 (4.35%)
                    Collective health         1 (2.17%)

Exact and earth     Astronomy/physics         1 (2.17%)
sciences            Computer science          1 (2.17%)
                    Geosciences               2 (4.35%)    7 (15.21%)
                    Mathematics and           2 (4.35%)
                    Chemistry                 1 (2.17%)

Humanities          Education                 1 (2.17%)
                    History                   2 (4.35%)    7 (15.21%)
                    Psychology                1 (2.17%)
                    Sociology                 3 (6.52%)

Applied social      Architecture and          2 (4.35%)
sciences            urbanism
                    Law                       1 (2.17%)    5 (10.87%)
                    Economics                 1 (2.17%)
                    Social service            1 (2.17%)

Engineering         Engineering II            5 (10.87%)
                    Engineering III           1 (2.17%)    7 (15.21%)
                    Engineering IV            1 (2.17%)
Linguistics,        Languages and             8 (17.39%)   8 (17.39%)
languages and       literature/               Total        46
literature,         linguistics
and arts

Source: Prepared by the authors from Capes (2014).

Tab. 4
International cooperation managers with multidisciplinary education

Institution      Undergraduate course

UFG            International relations
UNB                   Economics
UFGD           International relations
UFMG          Economics / Administration
UFSJ                  Economics

Institution             Master's degree

UFG                 Languages and literature
UNB           International relations / Sociology
UFGD                        History
UFMG                   Linguistic studies
UFSJ                   Linguistic studies

Institution             PhD

UFG           Languages and literature
UNB                  Sociology
UFGD              Social sciences
UFMG            Applied linguistics
UFSJ             Linguistic studies

Source: Prepared by the authors
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Author:Leal, Fernanda Geremias; Cespedes, Rafaela Ribeiro; Stallivieri, Luciane
Publication:InternexT: Revista Eletronica de Negocios Internacionais da ESPM
Date:May 1, 2017
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