Higher education challenges in Brazil

Main Article Content

Helena Sampaio Ana Maria Carneiro Cibele Yahn de Andrade Marcelo Knobel


Following the international trend, higher education in Brazil is going through important transformations, including the widening of access and the growth of enrollment numbers. From the beginning of the century the number of enrollments tripled, reaching more than eight million students in 2015. Here we discuss some factors that converged to cause this expansion, and we try to indicate the main challenges of the Brazilian higher education system. We begin with a brief analysis of the federal program of loans for students enrolled in private institutions, and the program for increasing the number of places in public institutions. We then point out, in some detail, the current challenges that the Brazilian higher education system faces: i) maintenance of the pace of growth of enrollments; ii) improvement of efficacy, with a reduction of dropouts and a larger number of graduates; iii) development of access mechanisms; and iv) awareness of the diversity of the offer of post-secondary education in the country. Although these challenges are also present in most of the systems that made a move towards the democratization of access to higher education, in Brazil these challenges are faced in the context of a wide privatization and commodification of this level of education, together with a strong economic and fiscal crisis. Besides that, there is a rather strong valorization of a unique model of higher education based on the research university, which in fact corresponds to a small part of the national system.


How to cite this article:

SAMPAIO, Helena; CARNEIRO, Ana Maria; DE ANDRADE, Cibele Yahn; KNOBEL, M. Higher education challenges in Brazil. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in the South, [S.l.], v. 1, n. 1, p. 39-59, sep. 2017. Available at: <http://sotl-south-journal.net/?journal=sotls&page=article&op=view&path%5B%5D=12>. Date accessed: 12 sep. 2017.