The Tragedies of Brazilian Higher Education

  • Marcelo Knobel
  • Fernanda Leal Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina
Keywords: Brazil, higher education, university autonomy, COVID-19 pandemic


Continuing reflection on critical policy changes in Brazilian higher education since President Bolsonaro assumed office in January 2019, this article presents what we call “a chronology of tragedies,” a review of events that have taken place since September 2019. These events reveal the ways through which federal policies continue to threaten university autonomy, even though the public higher education sector has proved to be fundamental to fighting the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Author Biographies

Marcelo Knobel

Marcelo Knobel is rector of Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp) and full professor at the Gleb Wataghin Physics Institute, Unicamp, Brazil. Email:

Fernanda Leal, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina

Fernanda Leal is executive assistant for the provost of people development and management at Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC), Brazil, and a former visiting scholar at the Center for International Higher Education (CIHE), Boston College, US. Email:

How to Cite
Knobel, M., & Leal, F. (2021). The Tragedies of Brazilian Higher Education. International Higher Education, (105), 35-36. Retrieved from