U.S. colleges, holding onto a shrinking lead as the world’s biggest educator of international students, are eyeing a promising new market in Brazil, an emerging economy with big hopes for the future but a shortage of skilled labor, Reuters reports. U.S. Commerce Undersecretary Francisco Sanchez will lead officials from 66 U.S. colleges and universities to Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro beginning Thursday on what he told Reuters is the biggest trade mission of the Obama administration. The seven-day visit capitalizes on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s “Science Without Borders” initiative aimed at reducing her nation’s skills deficit by sending as many as 101,000 students to study abroad over the next four years.

“She’s stated publicly that she wants half of those to go to the United States and specifically to study in the STEM areas: science, technology, engineering and math,” Sanchez said. Brazil’s skilled-worker shortage is a major challenge on the country’s path to developed-nation status. In addition to spurring Brazil to seek educational opportunities abroad, the shortage has encouraged the government to explore ways to ease immigration rules to attract more foreign professionals…

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