Blogiessee: Why should Finland export education to Brazil?
I have now spent two weeks in Brazil in a city called Varginha. During these weeks, I have learned a lot about higher education and working in a university in Brazil. I also find a long article about education export to Brazil. That article is made from United States point of view but I picked up some points that are valid also from Finland’s aspect.
Size of the market
According to an article, Brazil is the world’s fifth largest higher education market in the world. Brazil has 57 million students in its basic education system, with 8,7 million in pre-school, 37,2 million in elementary school and 11,1 million in high school. The higher education sector includes 7,3 million enrolled students, so more than Finland have people in the whole country. One important point is that in Brazil 72 percent of higher education students go to private institutions. I asked about the reasons why so many people are going to private universities from one of the professors here in Varginha. He said that there is a couple of reasons for that. The first reason is that it is really hard to get into public universities. In public universities studying is free but if you want to get in there could be 60 to 70 applicants per one studying place. The second point is that teaching in public high schools and elementary schools are not of good quality. That means that if your parents don’t have enough money that you can go to private high school or elementary school it is really hard to get into public university later. That is why some students go to private universities and work at the same time to pay their own studying. An example in Unis where I am working right now approximately 90% of the classes are in the evening after 18.00 because students are working in the morning.
Government and internationalization
The education sector is a high priority for the Government of Brazil. A good education is also highly valued in Brazil. The internationalization of higher education is a subject that is gaining increasing relevance both for public and private institutions. Many companies from Brazil wants to be international and also that is why they support with money university students and professors to go abroad and gain their English and Spanish skills.
The reputation of Finland education
If you ask anyone from Brazil what they know about Finland, everybody answers good education and nothing else. Finnish education has a really good reputation in Brazil and many professors are visiting Finland to learn about Finnish education. I just imagine if there would be Finnish university in Brazil. I think it would be really highly appreciated and popular. The only problem that comes to my mind is that if you want to establish a university or school or even sell education to Brazil it is much easier if you know how to speak Portuguese. In big cities like Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Brasilia, and Belo Horizonte people have little bit better English skills but in the countryside, there is a lot of potential markets but English skill is not that good.
Finland is already doing education export to Brazil but I think Finland exploit only 10% of the potential that could be in these markets. Maybe in 5 to 10 years, that will change.