The Hon. Steve Herbert MLC – travel report, Latin America, April 2015

Minister The Hon. Steven Herbert, MLC
Portfolio Minister for Training and Skills
Minister for International Education
Countries visited Brazil, Colombia, Peru (mission delegates also travelled to Chile)
Date of travel 21 April – 3 May, 2015
No. of official travel days
(including date of departure and date of return)
13 days
Number of accompanying ministerial staff 1
Accompanied by spouse in an official capacity No
Funding for the overseas trip was paid by (list department/s or agency) Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)
Air fares $32,371.72
Accommodation $4,348.00
Other expenses (includes surface travel and travel allowances) $2,068.08
Travel cost for minister and staff $38,787.80

Purpose of travel

I travelled to Latin America from 21 April to 3 May 2015 in support of my Training and Skills portfolio responsibilities. The key purpose of my travel was to lead the Victorian Government Education Mission to Latin America in the cities of São Paulo, Curitiba, Bogotá and Lima.

The objective of the mission was to raise awareness of Victoria's education, training and research expertise and build new educational partnerships and opportunities for Victorian education providers.

The mission formed part of a long-term market engagement plan between Victoria and key countries in Latin America. It followed on from the Melbourne – Latin America Education Symposium held in Melbourne in March 2014, visits to the region by departmental staff and the work of the newly appointed Education Services Manager for Latin America.

The government recognises Latin America as a market with significant growth potential for Victoria's international education sector for student recruitment, research partnerships and education services exports. Latin American nations and Victoria are dealing with common challenges on matters ranging from food security to water management and clean energy development. By embracing new partnerships and a shared southern perspective, Victoria and Latin America can develop practical solutions that align with common industry strengths and interests.

The mission also supported the Victorian Government's high priority on international education, which has been identified as one of the six industry sectors as part of the government's Future Industries election commitment.

Key elements of my program included:

  • Representing Victoria as the leader of the delegation of 29 senior education and research representatives from eight Victorian universities and five TAFEs and private vocational institutions
  • Attending high level government meetings to discuss and promote opportunities for research, education and training partnerships and export
  • Announcing government initiatives to support future engagement in education and training with countries in Latin America
  • Signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the State of Victoria and the State of Paraná
  • Hosting and participating in a range of mission forums and events attended by around 1,000 people throughout the program which supported Victoria's international education sector

Benefits of travel to the state of Victoria

Mission outcomes for Victorian education institutions

Mission evaluations are still being completed by mission participants and their institutions. Early reports indicate the following outcomes:

  • Six MoUs between Victorian and Latin American institutions are being developed or expanded
  • Discussions are underway between Victorian universities and 14 Latin American universities, research institutions, ministries and coordinating and funding agencies to develop research collaboration agreements in the areas of:
    • Fire ecology
    • Biology, biodiversity, microbiology and bioremediation
    • Climate change and modelling
    • Regional development and planning
    • Blue-green infrastructure
    • Disaster management
    • Land suitability and sustainable agriculture, and
    • Water management and quality
  • Two Victorian universities and three Latin American universities are negotiating joint program delivery and/or pathway programs
  • Discussions are underway between two Victorian institutions and two Latin American institutions to develop training agreements, including a Vocational Education and Training (VET) capacity building project
  • Three new or existing forums and symposiums in Latin America are under development with Victorian and Latin American institutions planning their participation
  • Some of Victoria's leading experts in water management were invited to present at an international water forum in São Paulo, which was in addition to the mission's core program
  • Two inbound delegations from Colombia plan to visit Victoria
  • A range of business collaborations between Victorian institutions and five Latin American institutions are also being discussed
  • Strong interest from Chile, Brazil and Peru in Victoria's water management expertise, especially from Chile. Deakin University was invited to brief the Chilean senate and lower house on water management issues at the end of the mission

Initiatives to support continued market development

During the mission I made the following announcements which are targeted at supporting and developing relationships and opportunities between Victoria and Latin America:

  • Four new scholarships for the brightest Latin American students to study PhDs in Victorian universities from 2016, focusing on areas of common interest including water and urban management, medical and agricultural research
  • A visit of 30 senior university and research agency fellows from Latin America to Victoria in September 2015 with support from the Australian Government's Australia Awards Fellowships
  • An inbound mission to Melbourne in October 2015 for more than 20 senior Latin American vocational education and training experts, which will explore and promote Victoria's expertise
  • The signing of an MoU with the Brazilian state of Paraná to cooperate in a range of areas, including delivery of a Research Skills Course by Victorian universities

Next steps / follow up

A number of strategic projects where the Victorian Government will play a key role have been identified as a result of the mission. The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources will play a key role in driving priority initiatives forward. The department has engaged with the sector and sought their feedback on these projects. These include:

  • MoU with the State of Paraná – the department will be working with Victorian universities to identify representatives to form working groups in the areas of Water Management, Sustainable Cities and Regionalism. These working groups will form the basis of joint activities
  • Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Leadership and Capacity Building – the department is working towards the delivery of this program in October 2015, targeted at senior Latin American vocational education and training experts interested in TVET system reform
  • Latin America Scholarships – the scholarship will be available from 2016. The department will shortly be planning a communications campaign to leverage this opportunity to broadly promote research at Victorian universities in Latin America
  • MoU with State of São Paulo – following successful meetings in São Paulo, the department will be exploring the possibility of signing a MoU with the State of São Paulo and will seek to identify mutual areas of interest

The department will also:

  • continue to work with VET providers to develop a full proposal for the Brazilian Ministry of Education to provide a range of education services exports, including a 3-month technical teacher training program in Brazil
  • provide ongoing support to Victorian providers in-market via the Education Services Manager based in Bogotá and the International Education Unit in Melbourne

Page last updated: 20 July 2016