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Our colleagues at Peixoto e Cury Advogados have informed us that over the last 20 years the Brazilian higher education market has experienced a boom with enrolments in universities increasing by more than 200% between 1995 and 2009. Private universities appear to have benefitted most from this expansion with a growth rate of 197.2% during this period. As there are currently no restrictions on foreign companies participating in a Brazilian university, higher education institutions interested in creating an overseas campus may find Brazil an attractive place for business by using a company as a vehicle for setting up the campus. A small university can be created with a relatively small investment due to the absence of restrictions. Traditional courses are likely to fare better than niche areas while the new campus builds up a reputation for its quality and brand.
Higher education institutions in the UK who are planning on setting up in Brazil should however be aware that there is currently a bill pending before National Congress to restrict the holding of equity interest by foreign companies in Brazilian universities to 10% of the capital stock. Our colleagues from the State Capital Group have informed us that the bill will have to be approved by the Culture and Education Commission of the Senate and that the Commission has manifested itself against the bill. The chances of the bill reaching the plenary session for approval are therefore slim, but it is something that should be borne in mind.
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