Despite a turbulent period for Brazilian academia, which has been hit hard by the austerity policies of recent years and suffered a grave brain drain in the process, 11 local scientists have made it onto the esteemed annual list of the most cited researchers in the world.
Education has always been one of Brazil most critical issues. And, in recent times, things have somehow gotten worse, particularly for public universities. Since 2009, Brazil’s spending per student has decreased. While the total budget rose by 40 percent, the number of students increased even further: 44 percent. The budget for science and technology in 2018 is 25 percent lower than it was last year and has hit its lowest point in history: roughly USD 1.17 billion. Since President Michel Temer took over from the ousted Dilma Rousseff in 2016, the sector has faced a progressive funding reduction that has alarmed Brazilian scientists.
Besides budget cuts caused by austerity policies, in 2016 the government decided to shut down its Science Without Borders program, which sent Brazilian students abroad in order to enhance knowledge exchange and language learning. It was a flawed program, which ended up sending a lot of people to Portugal (defeating the purpose of language learning), but it still broadened horizons for Brazilian students. Between 2011 and 2016, the program had sent almost 100,000 students to foreign institutions.