Access to higher education in Brazil

Based on higher education indicators produced by the INEP, IBGE and UNESCO, this study analyzes the problem of access to higher education in Brazil these last 40 years, considering the differences in admission and enrollment according to the administrative regions and fields of study, graduates profiles and teacher qualifications. The gross enrolment ratio and level of privatization indicators for this sector in Brazil are also compared to those of other countries in Latin America and the world. Lastly, the latest actions of the Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC - Tarso Genro administration), aimed at increasing supply and democratizing access are briefly discussed. The data show that, although the federal government policy for this sector since the 1960s has been to increase enrollment via privatization, Brazil's Gross Schooling Rate for Higher Education is still one of the lowest in Latin America, while its level of privatization is one of the highest in the world. This process has resulted in an overall elitization of the profile of students, especially in the fields with the highest demand and in private institutions, where the presence of African-descendant or poor students is still very low. The proposals presented thus far by the MEC reflect a guiding principle oriented toward an increase in enrollment without additional resources for the public sector, and the granting of subsidies to the private sector in exchange for scholarships, as well as quotas, in both the public and private sectors. These are palliative measures that do not address the main point: expanding the public sector without losing quality. This would mean an increase in higher education expenditures, from the current 0.8% of GDP to about 1.4% of GDP.

Access to higher education; Higher education; Profile of undergraduate students; Privatization of education; Undergraduate education


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