Studying in Brazil

Why study in Brazil?

Brazil is one of the world’s emerging economies and is one of the five BRICS nations (an international group comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and Africa). A vast country with a few large cities, Brazil has a reputation for a relaxed lifestyle with the beaches of Rio de Janeiro famous for their vibrancy.

  • There are more than 2,600 public and private universities distributed throughout Brazil, with the public universities the most reliable for quality. Tuition is free for EU students, although fees have recently been introduced for non-EU students.
  • An undergraduate degree in Brazil will usually take four years to complete, but this will be five or more for professional degrees such as architecture, engineering, medicine or law.
  • The ability to study in Portuguese is a requirement for international students at undergraduate level.

Entry and visa regulations

UK nationals need a student visa to study at university in Brazil, normally a temporary visa IV (VITEM-IV).

  • You may not apply for a visa earlier than 90 days before your arrival date. To obtain a visa you will need a formal letter of invitation from the director of the Brazilian programme.
  • Visas are issued for up to one year, counting from the date of arrival. Extensions (once in Brazil only) can be given, at the discretion of the Brazilian Immigration Authority upon confirmation from the Brazilian institution that the course continues, that the student’s attendance is regular, and that she/he has successfully passed the examination to the course next level (if applicable), with the relevant subjects studied and its grades.
  • Application should be made at the Federal Police Department in the capital of the state of residence at least a month prior to the expiration of the current visa.

Students must prove they have access to at least £64 a month to cover expenses and produce a UK police record check.

  • Check under the visa stamp for a handwritten notation -- "RN" followed by a number.
  • This is the resoluçao normativa and refers to the legal category under which your visa is issued. If this number is not written on your visa, the federal police will not be able to process your temporary residence.
  • If you do not have this number, call the consulate and then send the passport back for them to include the RN number.

Note that you have only 21 days to register with the federal police upon arrival in Brazil. Make this a top priority.

Language requirements

  • Portuguese is the official language of Brazil, and is spoken by more than 99% of the population.
  • English is often studied in school and increasingly in private courses but is not widely spoken.
  • Would-be students’ competence in Portguese is assessed by the Certificado de Proficiência em Língua Portuguesa para Estrangeiros (Celpe-Bras) exam.

Funding your study

  • Tuition at state universities is free for international and Brazilian students alike.
  • There are limited opportunities for scholarships and bursaries through individual universities.

Student accommodation

  • Few universities offer accommodation services, but many will arrange home stays. Private rented accommodation can be found at various sites, including Okupe Hostels.

Costs of living

Brazil is not a cheap option. Inflation is rife and many prices are high. Typical prices (GBP, March 2015) are:

  • Apartment £170 - £252 per month
  • Meal, inexpensive restaurant £3.55
  • Meal at McDonalds £4.17
  • Domestic beer (0.5 litre draught) £1.04
  • Imported beer (0.33 litre bottle) £1.88
  • Cappuccino £0.97
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle) £0.71
  • Water (0.33 litre bottle) £0.47
  • Loaf of bread £0.93
  • Cigarettes £1.30
  • One-way ticket local transport £0.63
  • Cinema ticket £4.17

Working while studying

International students are not permitted to work while studying in Brazil.

Health and safety

  • Public health care is provided to all Brazilian permanent residents and foreigners in through a national system known as the Unified Health System (SUS). The SUS is universal and free for everyone.
  • Higher quality and speedier health care is available through the private health system and international students are advised to take out private insurance to enable them to access it.
  • Vaccination against Yellow Fever is not compulsory but is recommended for travel outside the main cities of Rio and Sao Paolo
  • Crime is rife in Brazil, particularly in some parts of its major cities. Gun use is high and the country’s murder rate places it in the global top 20. Carjackings and muggings are frequent and a gang culture dominates, centred on drug trafficking. Corruption of police and local officials is endemic. All favelas (shanty towns) are unpredictably dangerous areas, even the so-called 'pacified' ones. Normal precautions should be observed at all times.

Helpful links