Higher Education and Intercultural Relations: Empowering Indigenous Brazilian Students through Internationalization Programs


Understanding of both good practices and structural barriers that influence the academic experiences of indigenous students in higher education facilitates knowledge and continuous innovation to better support these students. This study examined the academic experience of indigenous Brazilian students who participated in an interuniversity internationalization program between the Federal University of São Carlos (Brazil) and the University of Córdoba (Spain). The research aimed to (a) analyze the academic, organizational and cultural factors that favor inclusion and academic success of indigenous students; (b) identify the barriers that hinder their participation and academic progress; and (c) provide evidence on the impact of this experience on the strengthening of their role as indigenous leaders at the university. We used a qualitative approach to data collection and analysis which included the life stories provided by the Brazilian indigenous students; a series of semi-structured interviews to academic key informants suggested by the indigenous students; and a focus group with the indigenous students and their selected significant classmates. Furthermore, the methodology was based on a critical communicative perspective which allowed to understand the reality of the participants, not as external actors to the research but as active actors in all phases of the process. Results identified institutional, pedagogical, social and personal elements that favored vs. hinder the inclusion and academic success of indigenous students. Additional analyses will determine effective policies and academic practices that favor the inclusion of ethnic minorities in higher education.

Author Information
Silvia Abad-Merino, University of Córdoba, Spain
Blas Segovia-Aguilar, University of Córdoba, Spain
Sonia García-Segura, University of Córdoba, Spain

Paper Information
Conference: ECE2020
Stream: Higher education

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