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Brazil’s study travel market bounces back

Brazil’s outbound study surged by 14% in 2016, with more than 247,000 students studying abroad during the year as exchange rates improved, according to Brazil’s largest study travel association.

Belta president Maura Leão, BrazilBelta president Maura Leão presented the first Belta Seal Market Research survey findings at III ForBEI – Brazil International Education Forum in São Paulo. Photo: Belta.

"Even more, parents are seeing it as a very good investment for their children"

The first published results from this year’s Belta Seal Market Research survey of education agencies are a marked improvement on the previous year’s findings, which showed sales of outbound study courses had been damaged significantly by a tough economic climate in 2015.

“There is good demand, despite the challenging time that Brazil is having,” commented Belta president Maura Leão, who said an improved exchange rate was a significant reason why outbound study is showing signs of recovery.

“It will bring some work experience and when they come back, they will be able to add another differential in their CVs”

As well as the increase in the number of students heading overseas, the survey also shows students’ priorities have shifted in terms of preferred programs of study, driven largely by factors related to employability.

Language programs remained the most popular option, but were followed for the first time by language courses with temporary work, which rose three places compared to the year before as demand grew, the survey shows.

Speaking an international business language is “essential” for students in the Lusophone country, said Leão, which explains why growing numbers of Brazilian students are taking up English and other language courses overseas.

‘The work portion of these programs can help pay for some of the investment they make,” she said.

“Moreover, it will bring some work experience and when they come back, they will be able to add another differential to their CVs.”

Vacation courses were the third most popular program, followed by high school – down two places from 2015 – and professional courses leading to a certificate or diploma.

Postgraduate degrees climbed two places from seventh most popular course of study in 2015 to fifth in 2016, while undergraduate degrees moved from eighth to sixth.

Higher education overseas is growing in popularity as “Brazilian students have awakened to study abroad for undergraduate and postgraduate programs and now they see that these programs are somewhat viable in their career plan,” according to Leão.

“Brazilian students have awakened to study abroad for undergraduate and postgraduate programs

Assistance from agents with financial planning; a growing awareness of available scholarships and investment on the part of universities to educate agents about the opportunities on offer are all making higher education a more attractive prospect, she added.

“What’s more, parents are seeing it as a very good investment for their children,” she continued, explaining that permission to work during or after their courses for undergraduates and graduate students is very appealing to Brazilian students and their parents, who will be financially supporting them.

“In addition to having an experience abroad, students take the job market into consideration. When they come back with graduate studies done abroad, doors open in the Brazilian market,” she said.

The destination countries that claimed the most students remained largely unchanged compared to 2015, topped by Canada, the US and Australia. Ireland and the UK completed the top five.

“No Latin American countries are among the 10 countries for Spanish learning,” observed Leão. “It means we have a great market to develop still.”

For the research, Belta surveyed both Belta member and non-member agencies.

The topline findings of Belta’s research were presented at the third annual ForBEI – Brazil International Education Forum in São Paulo. The full results will be published in the coming weeks.

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