Internationalizing Brazil's Universities: Creating Coherent National Policies Must Be a Priority, by Marcelo Knobel


It is estimated that approximately 3 million students are enrolled as international students, and it is possible to project that this number may reach more than 7 million by 2025. As global demand exceeds the supply, competition is building for the best of these students. Some countries (or regions) clearly envisage the opportunity this represents and have been strongly stimulating student mobility. There is a race for “brains”, be it for professors at the end of their careers looking for new professional opportunities and/or the opportunity to return to their native countries, or for researchers at the beginning of their careers, looking for a place that might offer them a better future, or even for students, who seek more appealing alternatives. How will Brazil fare in this competition for talent? If it is to internationalize its higher education study programs, Brazil must deal with a number of practical problems, including a lack of specific policies and guidelines. Bureaucracy, for instance, is one major problem. A foreigner who comes to live in Brazil faces many obstacles, mainly due to the bureaucracy involved in everything from getting a Visa through the Federal Police office, to opening up a bank account, renting an apartment, registering at school, amongst many other processes and regulations that make it difficult for anyone to come and live in Brazil. One rarely finds a course offered in English or Spanish in a Brazilian university and the selection of faculty are normally held in Portuguese. Currently, there are no plans or projects at either the federal or state level, to address these obstacles. This should be a major concern to all who hold positions of responsibility in the educational process, as Brazil is not keeping pace with higher education reforms found globally. The internationalization movement is growing, and Brazil must actively seek reforms to keep pace with economic competitors.

Marcelo Knobel
Publication date: 
June 1, 2011
Publication type: 
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)
Marcelo Knobel. (2011). INTERNATIONALIZING BRAZIL’S UNIVERSITIES: Creating Coherent National Policies Must Be a Priority. UC Berkeley: Center for Studies in Higher Education.