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Federal universities feel the squeeze

The budget for “other current expenses” at Brazil’s 68 federal universities has shrunk by 45% over the last five years. In values adjusted for inflation, it fell from R$8.6 billion in 2018 to R$4.4 billion in 2022 (to September), according to data from the federal government’s Integrated Planning and Budget System (SIOP). This budget category covers the consumables, water, energy, services, and food and transportation vouchers, in addition to grants and student aid. At the same time, investment funds—money for investing in the university’s assets, such as real estate, land, renovations, and construction works, as well as the purchase of permanent equipment and materials—decreased by 69%, from R$310 million in 2018 to R$97.5 million as of September this year. The information was gathered by the Center for University, Society, and Science Studies (Sou Ciência) at the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) in partnership with the Serrapilheira Institute and presented at the 6th edition of the Serrapilheira Meetings in Rio de Janeiro. “Sou Ciência studies and surveys have shown a major drop in funding at the 68 federal universities, especially between 2019 and 2022,” said Soraya Smaili, the center’s coordinator.