Rethinking Quality Assurance for Higher Education in Brazil

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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 the quality of higher education institutions

Like the external quality assurance systems in many other OECD and partner countries, the National System for Evaluation of Higher Education (SINAES) in Brazil evaluates both higher education institutions and individual study programmes within those institutions. Private and public institutions are subject to periodic re-accreditation, based on on-site reviews coordinated by INEP. Whereas for private institutions, re-accreditation is a pre-requisite for their continued operation, legally protected public institutions the process is essentially a formality. In both cases, the period for which re-accreditation is granted varies depending on the status and institutional quality score awarded to the institution. Institutions are also subject to annual monitoring, based on the average performance of their programmes in relation to SINAES programme-level indicators and the results of CAPES evaluations for “stricto sensu” postgraduate programmes. This chapter examines these processes and provides recommendations for the future development of the systems in place.


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