Rethinking Quality Assurance for Higher Education in Brazil

image of Rethinking Quality Assurance for Higher Education in Brazil

This review examines the external systems in place to assure the quality of higher education in Brazil. It highlights the relative success of the Brazilian quality assurance model in regulating market entry for private operators in Brazil, which cater to over 70% of students. But it also calls into question the effectiveness of existing systems to monitor the quality of undergraduate programmes and institutions and the ability of public authorities to act decisively to protect students from bad quality education.

The report analyses the systems that regulate the launch of new higher education institutions and programmes and evaluates quality assessment mechanisms for existing programmes and institutions. It also looks at the structures allowing public authorities to intervene to end or improve poor quality provision.

The review offers policy recommendations. It proposes a more differentiated system of quality assurance. It also recommends significant modifications to the design and purpose of the National Examination of Student Performance (ENADE).

This work was requested by the National Commission for Evaluation of Higher Education (CONAES) and CAPES, the federal body responsible for quality assurance and funding of postgraduate education.



Assuring and promoting quality for existing undergraduate programmes

This chapter examines the processes in place in the federal higher education system in Brazil to monitor the quality of established undergraduate programmes and take action in the event of poor performance. As currently designed, the cycle of ongoing quality monitoring involves the use of large-scale student testing, administered through the National Examination of Student Performance (ENADE), the results of which feed, with other indicators, into a composite indicator of programme performance – the Preliminary Course Score (CPC). When programmes score poorly on the CPC measure, they are subjected to an on-site peer review visit and may ultimately face sanctions imposed by the Ministry of Education. The chapter provides a critical assessment of these processes and provides recommendations for their improvement.


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