Maria Clara Lima

Maria Clara Lima


Finding business in Brazilian universities

Maria Clara Lima

Maria Clara Lima


The large number of people who needs a vacancy in a University or Technological Colleges makes the country an easy target to investors willing to make business in the educational area.

Education in Brazil is set to be one of the main preoccupations of the country. In the past decade, the investments from the government and private investors have increased the numbers of students enrolled in graduate courses in almost 110%, according to MEC (Brazilian Ministry of Education). It means that 6.2 millions of people are pursuing some kind of degree in the country. This is due to gradual enhancement of the country's economy and the numbers of universities, colleges and centers of education where the population is encouraged to pursue a degree or post-degree.

The 2009 IBGE census showed that there are 2314 institutions of high level education (universities, colleges, continued courses and masters) in the country, 245 are public schools, while more than 2000 are private schools. In 20 years, Brazil decreased the number of illiterate people from 20% to 9.6%. The numbers of the years spent in an educational institution went from 5 to 7.2 since 1992.

This new educational environment set in Brazil happened due to economic changes in the country. The sixth strongest economy in the world faced the challenge to share the wealth with the low-class part of the population, now called the “C Class”. These people are the new consuming target in the country, and they are also chasing to achieve a new level of education and seeking for new working opportunities.

Most of the students in the southeast of Brazil are enrolled in private schools, since there are not enough vacancies in public institutions. In 2009, 90% of the Universities in the country were private. To keep this market growing, these institutions are allying with foreign groups of investors to keep the quality of the programs in the school, and also, to offer a differential experience for the students.

Even though private schools are considered to be a safe market, because of the steady economy, abundant credit and the increase of the number of consumption, foreign companies need to bear in mind that, likely any other investment, the risk is based on the financial market. At the moment, the danger of a Brazilian economic breakdown seems almost impossible, but still needs to be considered.

In 2005, the Laureate International Universities acquired 51% of the Anhembi Morumbi University, in São Paulo. The group is held by 60 institutions present in 29 countries around the world. The deal gave the partnership a profit of R$ 52,8 mi, estimated by the Hoper Educational Consulting, showing that investing in education is not a risk market.

According to the Laureate, the demography and social escalation of the population during the last decade in Brazil were seen as a perfect environment to invest in education. “Only 27% of the people between 18 to 24 years old are going to high level educational institutions nowadays in Brazil. In the developed countries, the range is up to 70%”. People are out there, waiting for the opportunity to go to a school.

The group made a profile of the educational situation of the students in the range so they could focus on the part of the population necessities. They crated courses such as Civil Aviation, Game Designs, Capillary and Cosmetics therapy, all offered in the Anhembi Morumbi University.

Now, the Laureate is associated with 11 in Brasil. It is part of the group BSP - Business School São Paulo; CEDEPE Business School; Centro Universitário do Norte (UniNorte); Centro Universitário IBMR; Centro Universitário Ritter dos Reis (UniRitter); Faculdade de Desenvolvimento do Rio Grande do Sul (FADERGS); Faculdade dos Guararapes (FG); Faculdade Unida da Paraíba (UNPB); Universidade Anhembi Morumbi; Universidade Potiguar (UnP); e Universidade Salvador (UNIFACS).

Good education helps on developing the economy of emerging countries

Investing in education also gives the emerging country the opportunity to grow as a strong economy, since the level of education will tend to improve and the Brazilian workforce will be more specialized.This will give people the chance to seek for better jobs escalating the economy of the country, as well. With a solid economy, Brazil turns into a great place to invest.

But before electing one institution to invest, you have to consider several things. Education is still seen as a matter of the State, so investors from other countries tend to be seen with caution. Brazilians do not like to see education being treated as a fair business, since the quality of educational institutions is a benefit of the country.

It might seem a little bit odd to make a deal and try not to look that you are worried about the profits of it, so before penning the papers, it is necessary to be involved to the school and the community. It is what we call “to break the ice”. In this case, getting to know the students, the whereabouts and the local culture is highly recommended.

Get to know the school and the students. You might want to pay for a target survey on what the students expect from the school. If you feel good about making a deal with that University, it is time to get some issues cleared. For example, make sure that the University is recognized by the MEC standards. If it is not, there will be a risk that people will be less interested to go to that school, because there will be no validation of the diploma by the government.

In order to get an educational institution recognized by the rules of the government; the school has to have great staff, great facilities and also great programs of research and extension. After that, make sure that the institution is placed in a good neighborhood, with an easy access to the students.

Pay attention to the kind of degrees offered by the institution. The market is avid for technological courses and business, as well. Offer differentials services such as international internships, exchange programs, international extension courses. The students will be attracted to the international opportunities. The placement of the student in the market is a good thermometer of the success of the school. Be transparent in your intentions. This negotiation is not only about money. If the institution does not have a good educational plan, people will not give credit to it.

So if you are going to look for institutions to invest, you will need to pay attention in the legacy of this action. To gain trust in this kind of negotiation, more than simply putting some money on the institution or buying part of the stocks of the institution, you will need to offer a bigger plan, such as seek for excellence in the education, valuing the professors and the workers, planning extension programs to attend the surrounding population, invest in research and be inserted on social inclusion programs. If you want your business negotiation to be a success, this is likely to be the best path.