Brazil - Commercial Guide
Education and Training

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2020-03-06

Capital:  Brasilia
Population: 211,715,973 (July 2020 est.)
GDP: 3.248 Trillion USD (2017 est., Purchasing Power Parity)
Currency:  Reals (BRL)
Language:  Portuguese 

UNESCO Student Mobility Number: 
Brazil has 58,841 students studying abroad.

CIA World Factbook: 
37.17% of the Brazilian population is under 24 years old.


Despite the current economic/political challenges that Brazil is going through, it is the largest higher education market in Latin America. Education expenditure for 2019 was around US$18 billion. The Brazilian Ministry of Education’s budget for 2020 is projected to be US$45 billion.

Brazil has 68.5 million students in its basic education system, with 13.9 million in pre-school, 24.9 million in elementary school and 29.7 million in high school. The higher education sector includes 7.3 million enrolled students. Approximately 73 percent of higher education students go to private institutions.

The education sector is a high priority for the Government of Brazil. The internationalization of higher education is a subject that is gaining increasing relevance both for public and private Brazilian Higher Education Institutions. Brazilian federal research agencies have a long history of supporting international research partnerships, and such bilateral agreements with various countries in Europe, North and Latin America have existed for decades. However, available English language courses at Brazilian universities are still limited but growing.

In contrast to the segment for primary education, private institutions dominate higher education in Brazil. Public institutions in Brazil are small and are not capable of meeting the overall demand for higher education courses. Public higher education institutions are directed to serve as centers of excellence and research, with extremely competitive admissions standards and a limited capacity for expansion. Private higher education institutions are focused on meeting the professional requirements of the labor market and have developed flexible programs to meet the needs of the working population.

Industry specialists such as Hoper Education expect that despite the challenging economic/political situation, the education sector in Brazil will continue to grow, particularly the distance-learning segment. The lower monthly tuition fees in distance learning are expected to increase the penetration of higher education in Brazil. Distance learning solutions are particularly attractive to the substantial number of private, for-profit universities in Brazil. According to research done by the Brazilian Association of Distance Learning (ABED) in 2018, out of the 259 institutions that offer distance-learning classes and responded to their research, 55 percent are private, while 45 percent are public.


Higher Education
Brazil ranks ninth as a country of origin for foreign students studying in U.S. universities. In the 2018-2019 academic year, 16,059 students from Brazil were studying in the United States. The breakdown was as follows: 48.4 percent undergraduate; 29.5 percent graduate students; 9.4 percent other (language, short-term non-degree programs, etc.); and 12.7 percent OPT (Optional Practical Training).

Non-recognition of foreign university credits toward earning a degree in Brazil is a barrier to U.S. education exports. The Ministry of Education is in the early stages of creating a system to recognize foreign university degrees. Once the system is established, foreign universities will have to register to be included on the certified list; this is intended to be a fast-track system for students to have their foreign diplomas recognized. For continuing education purposes, the private universities have authority to work on case-by-case diploma acceptance.

Despite the bureaucratic challenges of having U.S. degrees recognized in Brazil, the number of Brazilian students choosing U.S. education is significant. The economic impact of Brazilian students in U.S. colleges and universities contributed $558 million to the U.S. economy during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Approximately 80 percent of Brazilian students who study abroad come from Brazil’s southern and central eastern states (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Sul e Paraná). Among these states (each of which presents excellent opportunities for overseas recruitment), São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Brasilia represent the three best locations to recruit Brazilian students to study in the United States. São Paulo has the largest applicant pool (36 percent) and attracts the most talented students to its own university campuses. The capital city of Brasília (11.6 percent), located in Distrito Federal (Federal District) has the country’s highest GDP per capita at approximately $16,500, over twice that of São Paulo, the region with the second-highest GDP per capita. The state of Rio de Janeiro (13.3 percent) (the country’s hub for the oil and gas industry) attracts many engineering and science majors.

English as a Second Language Programs
Brazil recognizes the need to improve English language skills across the country. Most of the population (including those employed in the tourism sector) lack basic English language skills, which is the main challenge for many Brazilian students applying for study abroad programs. Institutions that can address this issue by providing conditional acceptance tied to English language training or other such “pathway programs,” may have a competitive advantage in attracting Brazilian students.

Short-term Programs
Although private English language schools are abundant, student exchange programs are a huge market in Brazil, especially short-term and part-time programs. Examples of exchange programs currently popular in Brazil include part-time study programs combined with tourism and outdoors sports; teen vacation (specifically for teenagers with a mix of classes and leisure activities) and English language programs designed for 50+ year old students. 
U.S. schools interested in recruiting in Brazil should provide creative financing options, including options to pay in installments, since cost (along with proficiency in English language skills) will continue to be a challenge for Brazilian students studying abroad. Installment payments are also widely popular throughout Brazil, from personal care to larger purchases such as computers.


For the next decade, the fastest growing segment of the educational market in Brazil will be short-term vocational and English learning courses, due to government investments in technical schools and courses for high schools’ students and adults.


Education fairs and the use of education agents are the most efficient means to recruit individual Brazilian students, including the biannual “EducationUSA” roadshows, supported by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). The roadshow happens on the first semester of the year and the EducationUSA fair happens on the second semester of the year. Universities interested in participating and exhibiting at the fairs should contact the EducationUSA office in Brazil.

Study Travel - ALPHE Conferences –March 11-13, 2020 – São Paulo – The Conference creates an environment for networking between international educators and student recruitment agents.

Salão do Estudante – March 7 – 19, 2020.  Large international student recruiting fair.  Approximately 26,000 visitors over 6 cities (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, Salvador, Belo Horizonte and Curitiba).  

FAUBAI Conference –April 25 - 29, 2020 – Belo Horizonte – The Brazilian Association for International Education (FAUBAI) meets annually to promote the improvement of exchange programs and international cooperation as a means to improve teaching, research, extension and administration of affiliated institutions, seeking to stimulate the continuous improvement of the management of international exchange and cooperation.

Bett Brasil Educar – May 12 – 15, 2020 – São Paulo – This show represents the best annual opportunity to exhibit classroom technology and furniture in Brazil. The main objective of Bett Brasil Educar is to provide an enabling environment for networking, business, and presenting solutions to improve the quality of the Brazilian education.  

ICEF - September 24-26, 2020 – São Paulo – This workshop provides an opportunity for international educators from all sectors to consolidate existing partnerships as well as establish new ones with quality, screened student recruitment agents. This is the largest event of its kind in Brazil.

U.S. Government:
Foreign Commercial Service Education Team
•    Education-Brazil Top Markets Report:
•    Industry and Analysis, Office of Supply Chain, Professional & Business Services:
•    EducationUSA Brazil:
•    Department of Commerce U.S. Educational Institutions and Intensive English Programs:
Government of Brazil:
•    Brazilian Ministry of Education:
•    Language without Borders:
•    FNDE:
•    Proinfo:
•    Institute of International Education - Open Doors:
•    Belta – Brazilian Educational and Language Travel Association:
•    Anima Educação:
•    Top Universities - rankings:
•    UNESCO International Student Flows:


Laura Reffatti, Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service – Brasilia, Brazil
+55 61 3312-7481

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