Higher education in Brazil: an exploratory study based on supply and demand conditions

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This paper aims to assess the context of Brazilian higher education institutions, its undergraduate courses and students, comparing their supply and demand conditions. It adopts a three-phase methodological approach: first, an inductive and exploratory step through the longitudinal analysis of data provided by the Brazilian Census of Higher Education, between the years of 2008 and 2014 and the Demographic Census of 2010; second, an analysis between the most important variables identified in the exploratory study (step 1) and its influence on the undergraduate courses’ perceived quality through the General Index of Evaluated Courses, which is responsible for the evaluation of all higher education institutions (HEIs) in Brazil; third, a comparison to other countries is performed, based on the 2015–2016 OECD Education Indicators. Its contribution shall enable HEIs to identify future trends concerning its sustainability conditions, providing subsidies for strategic information. It concludes that offer conditions are diverse, and that, especially in Brazil, demand is increasingly limited for the population considered ideal for undergraduate courses. Also, the expansion of students’ enrollment during the period was desirable and was intertwined with the diversification of higher education establishments and the diversity of programs, due to the national higher education policy system. However, this increasing diversity of HEIs and courses, contrary to what some authors (Teichler in High Educ 56(3):349–379, 1) propose, does not represent an improvement in the number of undergraduate students in Higher Education as most of the students do not conclude their studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)711–733
Number of pages23
JournalUniversal Access in the Information Society
Issue number4
Early online date24 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • Demand
  • Higher education
  • Strategic information
  • Supply
  • Undergraduate courses


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