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Brazil: government’s cuts in humanities

On 26 April, Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, and Brazilian Minister of Education, Abraham Weintraub, announced the government’s plan to “decentralise investment in faculties of philosophy and sociology”. “The goal”, in the words of Bolsonaro, is to “focus on areas that manage immediate return to the taxpayer, such as: veterinary [and] engineering”. The president took the example of the Japanese cuts in faculties of humanities and social sciences, but neither Bolsonaro nor Weintraub specified how the plan will be implemented.

Earlier this year, the government had already cut funds to three public universities in Brazil, namely the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), the Fluminense Federal University (UFF) and the University of Brasília (UnB). According to Floriano Peixoto de Azevedo Marques, Director of Law Department at the University of Sao Paulo (USP), the three latter universities hosted debates where the President’s policies were openly criticised, and the government’s current move threatens academic and “ideological” freedom.

Earlier this month, the French Conference of University Presidents (CPU) expressed its deep concern over Bolsonaro’s declaration. The CPU stressed the importance of fostering interaction between different academic disciplines and showed its solidarity with their Brazilian colleagues and especially those working in the fields targeted by the measures.