Click here for THE homepageBy Elizabeth Gibney. All eyes are on Brazil's academy and its rising research output, generous funding and willingness to team up internationally in a bid to become a major player. Adnei Melges de Andrade is a busy man. As vice-rector for international relations at the University of São Paulo, his office is increasingly the first port of call for visiting ambassadors, ministers and even prime ministers and presidents. His institution, widely seen as Brazil's top university, sometimes receives as many as five delegations a day. "In 2010 we had 88 delegations; in 2011 it was 142," says de Andrade. "This year we had 105 by June, and I think there will be many more."
With higher education budgets in Europe and the US being cut, it is perhaps not surprising that politicians and vice-chancellors across the world are interested in the Latin American giant and its growing spending power. According to one report, The State of Science 2011, produced by the Network of Ibero-American and Inter-American Science and Technology Indicators (RICYT), Brazil invested $24.9 billion (£15.6 billion) in research and development in 2010. Although cuts to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation budget last year may dent this figure slightly, it will still be from a base three times bigger than in 2002. Adjusting for the purchasing power of each currency, Brazil now spends more on R&D than Canada or Italy. The boom in spending has seen a commensurate rise in scientific output. The number of papers by Brazilian authors in the Thomson Reuters Science Citation Index doubled between 1997 and 2007, making the country the 13th-largest producer of science in the world. Approximately three-quarters of researchers in the country work in academia, and a trip to some of Brazil's top institutions reveals ample proof of the fruits of this investment.The University of São Paulo is the top-ranked Latin American institution in the 2012-13 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, at 158, and it is the oldest university in Brazil. Read more...