According to the Institute of International Education, Brazil is the fourteenth largest source of overseas students coming to the United States for education and training services. In 2011, there were 8,777 Brazilian students studying in the U.S. and the number of students has been gradually increasing since the 2005/2006 academic year. About 34.8% of Brazilian students participate in graduate programs and about 46.3% are enrolled in undergraduate programs. In 2010, Brazil was the sixth largest source of overseas students travelling to the U.S. for Intensive English Programs.
The consensus is that these numbers will increase over the next few years. In 2011, under the administration of President Dilma Rousseff, the government launched its most aggressive effort to address the most critical problem that faces the continued economic growth of the nation: the lack of a qualified workforce in the science and engineering fields. The Brazilian government hopes to have 100,000 Brazilians studying overseas for at least one year at the best science and technology programs by the end of 2015, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
For U.S. colleges and universities offering strong science and technology programs, the economic growth of the Brazilian middle class as well as the attention of the government on education initiatives to sustain this growth presents a rare opportunity for U.S. schools to increase their Brazilian student enrollment. On the other hand, the worldwide attention being paid to Brazil for the above reasons virtually guarantees that U.S. higher education institutions will face strong competition from higher education institutions worldwide.
Undergraduate and short term ESL programs are attractive for the majority of Brazilian students looking for study abroad opportunities. In 2010, a total of 2,252 students visited the U.S. for Intensive English Language Programs. While Brazil ranked the fourteenth largest source of overseas students coming to the United States for education and training services, it ranked sixth for sending students to the U.S. for Intensive English Programs, according to the Institute of International Education.
Both graduate and undergraduate programs continue to be of interest for Brazilians. The sciences, engineering, business and economics have been popular with Brazilian students traditionally. In addition, the Brazilian government agency administrating the “Science Brazil: TRADE Without Borders” Program has identified the following specific areas of interest that will be heavily promoted through the scholarship program.
Together with the economic stability and availability of credit, Brazilian families have been able to plan and make longer term financial commitments. The country is experiencing a boom in the purchase of homes, cars, and other durable goods. As the lower income portion of the market becomes more sophisticated and families become more aware of the importance of quality education, opportunities for educational service will grow. Foreign schools interested in recruiting in Brazil should come up with more creative ways of offering financing options as pricing, along with proficiency in English language skills, will continue to be the biggest challenge for students studying abroad.
The composition of states in Brazil vary widely in should be taken into account when planning recruitment efforts. Sao Paolo will have the largest applicant pool, and attracts the most talented students to its university campuses. The capital city of Brasilia has the highest GDP per capita in the country, at approximately $25,000 USD. This figure is over twice that of Sao Paolo’s, its closest competitor state. The state of Rio de Janeiro, the home of the semi state-owned energy giant Petrobras, is the country’s energy hub, attracting many engineering and science majors.
Science and Engineering
The education sector is one of President Dilma Rousseff’s highest priorities. Brazil, a country with continental dimensions, has many challenges in order to deliver a high standard of education for the population and for that reason the government of Brazil has been investing in a wide range of programs. The Brazilian government's new “Science Without Borders” Program will provide scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students from Brazil for one year of study at colleges and universities in the United States and other foreign countries. The program is administered by two federal government agencies. The Agency for the Improvement of Higher Education (CAPES) promotes and expands graduate and undergraduate education in the country. The Brazilian economy is currently experiencing a deficit of qualified graduates in certain technical and scientific areas. According to CAPES website, students in the above listed areas of study are especially encouraged to apply for the scholarships.
The National Council of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq) under the Ministry of Science and Technology is designed to promote scientific research throughout Brazil in order to increase Brazil’s competitiveness in scientific and technological advancements. Their role includes providing research scholarships for graduate students and professors looking to study outside of Brazil.
Candidates for the Sciences Without Borders program are nominated by their Brazilian university and approved to participate by the Brazilian agencies responsible for the implementation of the program, CAPES and CNPq. CAPES and CNPq, through partnerships with educational organizations and universities, negotiate placement, tuition, and fees for the students and researchers. The final decision to accept a student in the Science without Borders Program is made by the participating host institution.
The Brazilian government has partnered with the Institute of International Education (IIE) to administer the program for U.S. educational institutions. Accredited American colleges and universities interested in hosting students through the Science Without Borders program should register with IIE at: http://www.iie.org/en/Programs/Brazil-Science-Without-Borders.
The economic newspaper, Valor, recently published information on the profile of the Brazilian who studies overseas for business programs. The trend points to a younger demographic of MBA candidates, with over 60% of applicants under the age of 30. In 2011, over 55% of these students travelled overseas with their spouse and 77% surveyed intend to return to Brazil to seek employment opportunities. This statistic is vastly different from the Brazilian MBA student six years ago that primarily sought degrees in the United States with intentions to find employment there. With the growth of the Brazilian economy, many MBA students are also choosing to do summer internships back in Brazil. Unlike the expectation of their American counterpart, these MBA candidates expect that their salaries will be over $140,000 when they graduate and return to work in Brazil.
English Language Programs
Brazil recognizes the need to improve English language skills across the country. The country is set to host the World Cup during the summer of 2014 in 12 cities across the country. However, the majority of the population, including those employed in the tourism sector, lack basic English language skills. There are many programs both at the federal and local level, designed to start addressing this deficiency. For example, CAPES recently launched a program providing scholarships for Intensive English language training in the U.K. for certified Brazilian teachers of English. The State of Bahia is sponsoring free English classes for taxi drivers. Private English language schools throughout the larger cities are abundant. Still, the challenge for many students applying for study abroad programs is their lack of English language skills. Institutions that can address this issue by providing conditional acceptance tied to English language training may have a competitive advantage.
Since 2007, the Education Ministry is investing in the PROINFO, a program to promote technology as an important tool to teach. The program includes installations of technological labs in the public schools, laptops for teachers and students, digital boards, projectors and tablets. The budget will also be used to invest in classroom infrastructure and training for teachers. In 2012, the government will continue to invest in the technological program including purchasing tablets for teachers, computers for technological laboratories at schools and universities, smart and digital boards, projectors and other technologies.
Brazil’s book purchasing program is also receiving increased attention. Currently, school books are purchased every three years although the procurement process starts three years before the actual purchase. In 2011, the government bought 137 million books at a total of R$ 1.2 billion (U$ 720 million). The book purchasing program is divided into three categories, books used in libraries, books for students, and books for teachers to use as reference materials.
The government is also investing in technical courses for high schools students and adults. In 2011, the government invested 1.8 billion (U$ 1 billion). These numbers are expected to increase in 2012. The intention is to help 600,000 students pursue careers after leaving school. This money is invested in classroom infrastructure, teachers, equipment, books and others. Companies and educational institutions interested in participating in these programs should consider partnering with local companies or universities.
Education Fairs are one of the most efficient means to recruit Brazilian students. Brazil has quite a few education fairs that run throughout the year. In September 2012, for the first time ever, the United States Departments of State and Commerce will host a joint trade mission to Brazil. The trade mission will be held in Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Accredited universities interested in joining the trade mission should visit the Education USA office in Brazil or: http://export.gov/industry/education/eg_main_045847.asp.