The main IT suppliers in Brazil - including many of the world's main global technology companies - are partnering with their government to finance hundreds of thousands youngsters to access the world's best technology colleges free of charge.

The technology education drive is being organised by Brazil's IT technology employers organisation Brasscom.

Brasscom says Brazil needs the inititiative as the government wants to increase its share of global GDP from just over five percent now to eight percent by 2022, and IT is seen as a main growth opportunity.

The initial 100,000 youngsters and young people from the ages of 16 to 25 are currently being recruited via a web portal, which will allocate them an online IT course at an international university.

In the last week the Brazilian government has committed to rapidly expanding the number with a 10-fold increase in funding.

Those applying through the web portal are virtually interviewed by being asked what their interests are, and what are their favourite brands. This line of questioning is designed to pinpoint what technologies could be the most appropriate for them to study.

Brasscom head Antonio Gil, speaking on an SAP press innovation tour of Brazil, said: "Some in Brazil think we and the government are mad putting our youngsters in the hands of foreign universities - they fear a brain drain.

"But they couldn't be further from the truth, look how China has benefited from sending their young people to the world's best colleges."

Brasscom members include IBM, Microsoft, HP, SAP and BT.

Brazil's initiative comes as it was announced this week that more than 20 universities have partnered to launch a series of free, online courses in the UK, that can be accessed on mobile, as well as desktop devices.

The UK FutureLearn project is being delivered by a private company owned by distance learning experts Open University.

Its partners include more than 20 UK and international universities, and institutions like the British Council, the British Library and the British Museum.