Brazil - Country 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: 2021-01-21

Capital: Brasilia

Population: 211,715,973 (July 2020 est.)

GDP: $3.1 Trillion USD (2020 est., Purchasing Power Parity)

Currency: Reals (BRL)

Language: Portuguese

UNESCO Student Mobility Number:

Brazil has 67,183 students studying abroad.

CIA World Factbook:

37.17% of the Brazilian population is under 24 years old.

OVERVIEW

Despite the current economic and political challenges that Brazil is still going through, it is the largest higher education market in Latin America.  Education expenditures for 2020 were around US$15 billion. The Brazilian Ministry of Education’s budget for 2020 was projected to be US $30billion.

Brazil has 48.4 million students in its basic education system, with 8.7 million in preschool, 27.2 million in elementary school, and 7.7 million in high school. The higher education sector includes 8.4 million enrolled students and there are 4.7 million students in other modalities, such as adult education. Approximately 75.4 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 these bilateral agreements have existed for decades with various countries in Europe, North America, and Latin America.  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 for distance-learning are expected to increase the participation in 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. Together they hold 9.3 million students.

SUB-SECTORS

Higher Education:  Brazil ranks ninth as a country of origin for foreign students studying in U.S. universities.  In the 2019-2020 academic year, 16,671 students from Brazil were studying in the United States. The breakdown was as follows: 50.2 percent undergraduate; 28.9 percent graduate students; 8.3 percent other (language, short-term non-degree programs, etc.); and 3.2 percent OPT (Optional Practical Training).

Non-automatic 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.  Brazilian students in U.S. colleges and universities contributed $759 million to the U.S. economy during the 2019-2020 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, and 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 USD $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.

Community College:  Community colleges are very popular amongst Brazilian students due to more affordable tuition rates and the possibility to transfer to a U.S. university.   

Graduate Education:  Graduate education, especially in the areas of executive/business education has shown a slight increase in demand.

Secondary Education:  Despite the higher cost, the demand for boarding schools in Brazil continues to increase among parents.  However, day schools with a family stay is also in demand among students with a lower budget. Parents will send their children for a semester or up to a year. Summer camps are also very attractive as an alternative to a long-term program.

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 outdoor 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 widely popular throughout Brazil, from purchases of personal care products to larger purchases, such as computers.

Online Programs:  During 2020, the demand for online programs has shown a significant increase.  However, for a student’s first international experience, online programs are not as attractive because the student wants to experience the local culture and living abroad. For more experienced students, perhaps those doing international study for a second time, it may be more attractive.  The hybrid option seems to have the potential to be explored in coming years.

OPPORTUNITIES

For the next decade, the fastest growing segment of the education market in Brazil will be short-term vocational and English language courses. The government of Brazil is investing in technical schools to provide courses for high school students and adults.   

DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES

In Brazil, digital marketing is effective.  With a predominantly young population, social media is very popular.  The most popular platforms for online learning are Plurall, Samba Tech/Samba Play, Udemy, Hotmart, Coursera, UOL Educação, Cia Tech, Portal Educação, and Prime Cursos.  As far as social media, the most popular platforms for students are Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.  For research purposes, students use the Internet in general and Google, in particular.  LinkedIn is the most famous job search app.  For videos, Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube are the most used by students. Schools’ outreach to students is done via Google Ads, Instagram Ads, Facebook Ads, email, and LinkedIn ads.  U.S. institutions should find an education recruitment agent who can use their social media pages to showcase their partner schools and/or contract an education marketing agency to prepare a recruitment strategy for them.

EVENTS

Education fairs and the use of recruitment 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 takes place during the first semester of the year and the EducationUSA Fair during the second semester.  Universities interested in participating and exhibiting at the Fairs should contact the EducationUSA office in Brazil. Please check each event regularly, as they may switch to a virtual format.  

Salão do Estudante – March 6 – 14, 2021. Held across 4 major cities twice a year, Salão do Estudante has been Brazil’s best-known international student recruitment fair since 1994, attracting 90,000+ students, professionals, and parents annually.  (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, and Curitiba).

Study Travel - ALPHE Conferences –March 17-18, 2021 – Online – The Conference creates an environment for networking between international educators and student recruitment agents.

FAUBAI Conference –April 24-27, 2021 – 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 11–14, 2021 – São Paulo – This show is the best annual opportunity to exhibit classroom technology and furniture in Brazil.  The main objective of Bett Brasil Educar is to create an environment for networking, business, and presenting solutions to improve the quality of Brazilian education.

ICEF - September 30-02, 2021 – São Paulo – This workshop provides an opportunity for international educators from all sectors to solidify existing partnerships as well as establish new ones with quality, screened student recruitment agents.  This is the largest event of its kind in Brazil.

RESOURCES

U.S. Government:

  • U.S. Commercial Service Brazil:  trade.gov/brazil
  • U.S. Commercial Service Global Education Team: trade.gov/education-industry
  • EducationUSA Brazil: educationusa.org.br/

Government of Brazil:

  • Brazilian Ministry of Education: www.mec.gov.br/
  • Language without Borders: http://isf.mec.gov.br/
  • FNDE: www.fnde.gov.br/
  • Proinfo: http://portal.mec.gov.br/index.php?Itemid=462

Other:

  • Institute of International Education - Open Doors: www.iie.org
  • Belta – Brazilian Educational and Language Travel Association: www.belta.org.br/
  • WENR– World Education News + Reviews: www.wenr.wes.org
  • UNESCO International Student Flows: http://uis.unesco.org/en/uis-student-flow

U.S. COMMERCIAL SERVICE CONTACT

Laura Reffatti, Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service – Brazil
Email: 
laura.reffatti@trade.gov

Phone:  +55 61 3312-7481