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.



Governance of external quality assurance

Effective systems of external quality assurance for higher education require effective governance. International experience points to the necessity of three key characteristics in the design of institutions for the governance and implementation of quality assurance. First, quality external assurance bodies need to be independent of government and the demands of party politics, and of the higher education sector itself. Second, responsible authorities must have sufficient resources - financial, human, and intellectual - to meet properly their responsibilities. Third, quality assurance bodies should have carefully developed procedures for engaging with the broader society that higher education systems have a responsibility to serve. This chapter briefly examines the governance and implementation of quality assurance in Brazil in light of these considerations and provides recommendations for the further development of system governance.


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