Educational sector: An amazing opportunity to invest your money

A university education is increasingly becoming more of a reality for millions of Brazilians due to a growing economy and increased spending power. The number of students enrolled in Brazilian universities is expected to reach 10 million by next year, according to a market report from the US government and, unsurprisingly, there is a growing trend of Brazilians seeking their education overseas.  Understanding this market is crucial for those working with international student recruitment.

But what exactly is important to understand? Well, for starters, understanding why Brazilians go abroad and what their biggest obstacles are can provide some useful insight. 
Reasons Brazilians go abroad

Foreign qualifications hold a certain prestige in Brazil, and for good reason. The experience of spending time abroad is highly desired by many. It offers people a chance to get to know a new culture, learn a new language, and meet new people. Also, contrary to cultural norms in North America and Europe, many Brazilians tend to live with their parents until they marry. As a result, the appeal of living independently in a foreign country is high.

 For those with degrees from leading universities and fluency in another language, good job opportunities are much more easily attained. Of course, leading universities can be found right here in Brazil but there are several factors that drive some students to seek their education overseas.

The top schools are public and tuition-free but admittance is very highly disputed.
Those who pass the "Vestibular", the Brazilian entrance exam, to be admitted to these universities tend to be the minority who are able to afford a higher-quality, private secondary education.

Private schools which offer quality education are costly. 
There is a widespread perception that these institutions care much more about profits than the quality of the education provided and have been referred to as "diploma mills" by many.

A university education isn’t the only type of learning that Brazilians do abroad, nor is it the most common.The majority of Brazilians who study abroad don't go to 4 year universities. Instead, they go overseas for language studies. English is the dominant preference for most students with Canada coming out on top as the biggest destination. Fluency in another language provides greater marketability within Brazil to potential employers and for those without sufficient language proficiency, it also happens to be one of the biggest obstacles to enroll in a foreign university. 

Major Obstacles

Finding ways of ameliorating obstacles should be an important priority for institutions which plan on recruiting Brazilian students. If language proficiency is a "big one" then it goes without saying that providing effective language courses and conditional admission terms can give institutions an upper hand.

The other major obstacle is one that students the world over can relate to...cost. An increase in the average disposable income of Brazilians and a valuation of the Brazilian currency have helped but education abroad is still a very expensive investment for the majority. More financing options would be highly welcomed by many. There are a few in place already, such as the Ciência sem Fronteiras and Fulbright Brazil programs which offer grants to students at the undergraduate and graduate levels respectively. 

    Institutions which are intent on recruiting Brazilian students should keep in mind that personal relations are very highly valued in Brazil, therefore a local presence is preferred. There are a few ways in which an outside institution can establish such a local presence. Most schools work with BELTA-associated agencies, which comprise around 90% of the global education market in Brazil. Another option is to work with a firm which is able to hire and manage local representatives of the institution. These representatives conduct market research, travel around the country to education fairs, and provide counseling to students that want to study abroad.  

The potential for international recruiters in Brazil is high and expected to grow as the country continues to rise on the world stage. According to the Open Doors Data from the Institute of International Education, the number of Brazilians studying in the US increased by 20.4% between the 2011/12 and 2012/13 school year and this trend is expected to continue in the following years.

With the protests that swept the nation in 2013, we have seen that the demand for education was present in all of them. Brazilians from every segment of society value education and understand the implications it has for their futures. The government has taken some action to ensure that more Brazilians can go to college including passing a bill which requires that at least 10% of the GDP be spent on education.

 As previously mentioned, understanding the market will give recruiters a better idea of where to focus their resources and the best types of policies to implement. Education will continue to be the highest of priorities for many Brazilians and it is in everybody’s best interest that each and every student has full access to educational resources.