Do Brazilian Public Universities not carry out research?

Image: Elyeser Szturm

By Nelson Cardoso Amaral*

The Brazilian Federal Universities, a group of 63 institutions, present in all states of the federation and in the Federal District, have 1.120.804 undergraduate students [1] and 153.244 graduate students stricto sensu (master's or doctorate) [2]. These institutions have, since Jair Bolsonaro took office, been under intense attack by the teams that took over the Presidency of the Republic and the Ministry of Education.

Under the “accusation” that these Universities are dominated by people with more “left” thoughts, this group – ultra-conservative in customs and ultra-liberal in economics – develops a public campaign aimed at undermining the great credibility that Federal and some state Universities (from SP, RJ, etc.) still enjoy public opinion. The Brazilian population began to be bombarded uninterruptedly by messages that present, among other points, these institutions as sources of waste of public money.

In a radio interview Young pan, on April 08, 2019, Bolsonaro himself stated: “Few universities have research and, of those few, the great part is in the private sector” [3].

This statement distorts the fact that in Brazil, public universities and, in particular, federal universities, have always been primarily responsible for the production of knowledge, science, technology and innovation.

This profile, formed throughout history, can be visualized by examining Table 01, which shows the number of postgraduate programs stricto sensu (master's or doctorate) existing in each of the states and in the DF, at the federal, state, municipal and private levels. To make it easier, at the federal level, the existing programs at Federal Universities were separated from those present at other federal institutions that offer postgraduate studies. stricto sensu (Federal Institutes of Education, Science and Technology, Federal Centers of Technological Education, National School of Statistical Sciences, Military Institute of Engineering and Technological Institute of Aeronautics).

These data prove that it is the set of Federal Universities, located in all Brazilian states and the Federal District, which promotes in its 2.180 graduate programs stricto sensu research and extension on a sufficient scale to, among other things, reduce regional asymmetries and Brazilian inequality.

In the North region, Federal Universities are responsible for 88% of graduate programs stricto sensu; in the Northeast, by 75%; in the Midwest, by 72%, in the Southeast, by 54%, and in the South region, by 46%. It should be noted that the only Region in which Federal Universities do not exceed 50% is in the South.

*Nelson Cardoso Amaral is a professor at the Federal University of Goiás (UFG).


[1] BRASIL.CAPES. Georeferenced Information System – GEOCAPES. Available in:>.

[2] BRAZIL.INEP. Higher Education Census – 2017. Available at: .

[3] Interview of the President of the Republic to Jovem Pan, on 08/04/2019. Available in: .

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