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As markets welcome Bolsonaro, Brazil’s ELT sector hopes for boost

Jair Bolsonaro’s election as Brazil’s president is seen as a boost for the nation’s ELT industry, stakeholders have told The PIE News. Chosen by 55% of voters to run the world’s ninth largest economy, the former military captain is expected to stabilise the currency exchange rate and attract international investment, in turn attracting students.

Bolsonaro BrazilThe far-right president-elect of Brazil is expected to boost the nation's ELT secor. Photo: Wilson Dias/Agência Brasil

On the inbound perspective, there’s more to be done

The effects have already started: as the election results were announced on October 28, Brazil’s Bovespa index finished the month up more than 8%, bucking an overall negative trend for global stocks. Bolsonaro will be sworn into office on January 1, when the situation is expected to be considerably better.

“Investing in education is what will put Brazil back on track”

STB’s president José Carlos Hauer Santos Jr said he believes the next four years will be marked by high productivity for the ELT sector. He expects the dollar currency fluctuation, that has been unstable since march, to settle down soon.

“We shall have international investment on the rise, which will prompt currency rate [gains] and put our economy back on track in 2019”, said Hauer.

He predicted economic retraction if Bolsonaro’s opponent had won.

Victor Hugo Baseggio, director of another major education counselling company CI Intercâmbio, was also confident of a gradual and continuous upturn in the upcoming months.

“There’s investment on hold, and the consumer is also waiting for a most favourable moment to invest in international education. Many of those who didn’t [invest] in 2018 are bound to come back in 2019”, said Baseggio.

In fact, BELTA research this year showed that currency rate is the most important aspect considered by students when choosing the country of destination. It is followed by quality of life, the possibility of work, and immigration.

“Many of those who didn’t invest in 2018 are bound to come back in 2019”

The same report found that the devaluation of the Brazilian currency to the US dollar and the euro is the most prominent factor negatively affecting ELT businesses, according to its agency members.

By attending to market expectations, Bolsonaro may strengthen the ELT sector, and crucially specialists understand that the matter is strictly economic.

Even though his far-right politics have attracted international critics, it is deemed very unlikely that the division caused by the election might prompt students to go abroad.

“Nobody leaves Brazil because of ideological issues”, as Santos Hauer put it.

Maura Leão, BELTA president supported this view stating that: “everyone knows that international borders are closing nowadays. To make it worth going abroad, it is important to do something of quality that brings a change into one’s education”.

International education didn’t play part of the discussions on the campaign trail. Bolsonaro vaguely mentioned “valorising national talents and attracting international ones to generate technology, jobs and income here”.

He set out the idea of creating technological and educational hubs, with researchers connected to private companies in order to generate ideas, products and revenue.

“It’s important international HEIs adapt their products to the Brazilian market”

According to Daniel Gouvêa, manager of interchange for CVC, international education is now part of the conversation in many Brazilian families. This, along with the incorporation of English classes in regular schools, sets new expectations for the market.

“It is important that international institutions adapt their products to the Brazilian market, offering options that fit university students, young professionals, adults and elders”, said Gouvêa. He also stressed the necessity of efficient diplomacy to permit interchange with international universities.

On the inbound perspective, there’s even more to be done according to Leão, who said Brazilian governments haven’t done enough to promote Study in Brazil programs.

“We’ve been fighting for public policies to welcome international students to Brazil’s schools and universities [since 2015]”, said Maura.

“To make it effective, we have to improve on visa policy, work and internship [rights], public security, specific student housing, courses in English offered in Brazilians institutions and in many subjects”, claimed Belta’s president.

“A responsible [president] must understand that investing in education is what will put Brazil back on track. Policies to raise the numbers of students with access to international education is the best way, so they can later return and apply their experience”, Leão concluded.

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