The master’s and doctoral scholarships will complete ten years without readjustment in 2023. The values are 78.6% out of line with inflation in the case of the CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) and the Capes (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel).
The calculation was made based on the IPCA (National Broad Consumer Price Index) accumulated from January 2013 to November 2022. Today, the master’s scholarship is R$ 1,500; readjusted for inflation, it would rise to R$ 2,679. The doctoral scholarship would go from R$ 2,200 to R$ 3,929.
The aid granted by the agencies allows students to dedicate themselves exclusively to research.
For Vinícius Soares, president of ANPG (National Association of Graduate Students), the devaluation and consequent fall in the purchasing power of students may result in researchers leaving the country and discouraging scientific career.
“The recent graduate needs to choose to enter the postgraduate course receiving R$ 1,500 from the master’s degree or enter the market earning much more”, he says.
From 2019 to 2021, there was a reduction of 18% in the number of graduates in stricto postgraduate sensu (master’s or doctorate). In absolute numbers, 14,520 graduate students started their studies, but did not complete. Data are from the GeoCapes platform.
Coordinator of a line of research at the Institute of Chemistry at UnB (University of Brasilia), Brenno Amaro Neto was one of those impacted. In 2019, he headed a group of eight graduate students. Today, there are only two.
“Some students who had made the selection to enter the postgraduate course could not enroll because they depended on the scholarship to live”, he says.
The brain drain, called by Soares, from ANPG, scientific diaspora, is a concern of researchers. Today, around 6,700 Brazilian scientists carry out research outside the country, according to the CGEE (Center for Management and Strategic Studies).
For Helena Nader, president of ABC (Brazilian Academy of Sciences), the short-term path is to adjust the value of scholarships and increase the amount available🇧🇷 “Just as I do not accept that the minimum wage has not increased in real terms, I cannot accept that postgraduate scholarships continue at the level they are.”
Biologist and researcher at USP (University of São Paulo) Mayana Zatz claims that cuts in science budgets are also responsible for the drain of talent. “It’s no use just giving a grant if the laboratories don’t have the infrastructure to carry out the research.”
Graduate programs are responsible for 95% of scientific production in Brazil, according to a study commissioned by Capes.
A lack of readjustment of scholarships has made it difficult for graduate students to support themselves. This is the case of Daiane Matias, nutritionist and doctoral student at the postgraduate program in biological chemistry at UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro).
Daiane started her doctorate in 2018 and has a Capes scholarship as her only income. She, who shares the costs of the house where she lives with her boyfriend, also receives help from her mother.
“It’s more difficult to make a purchase that lasts the whole month. So I always need my mother’s help to buy food.”
She also had to borrow money from a friend to pay her December credit card bill, when there were budget freezes by the Ministry of Education.
Since 2016, CNPq and Capes have suffered an annual budget reduction for grants.
CNPq funding for scholarships was BRL 981,000 in 2022, the second lowest in ten years. The lowest value was registered in 2019, when it was R$ 941 thousand, in values adjusted for inflation. The analysis was produced by SBPC (Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science).
The readjustment considered ideal to replace part of the losses incurred in these ten years would be 75%, according to a study by Odir Dellagostin, president of Confap (National Council of State Research Support Foundations).
The two development agencies, however, adopted a 30% readjustment scenario, considered moderate.
The impact on CNPq in this scenario would be R$306.4 million for next year. But the 2023 Annual Budget Law Project (PLOA) provides for an increase of 5.48% (about BRL 54 million) for investment in CNPq scholarships.
The body, which is linked to the MCTI (Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation), says that through joint efforts it was possible to add approximately R$ 300 million for scholarships in the budget proposal that is being discussed in Congress. “The readjustment of CNPq grants depends on a budget increase that allows for an increase in values without prejudice to the number of grants offered”, said the body in a note.
According to CNPq, the confirmation of these values will allow a 30% readjustment in the value of all types of scholarships.
The ministry was approached to talk about the budgetary impact of the readjustment of CNPq scholarships, but did not respond.
The budget project sent by the Union provides for a reduction of BRL 462 million in the Capes scholarship program: 18.21% less compared to 2022.
Capes grants around 73% of scholarships to master’s and doctoral students in Brazil, according to Confap.
In 2018, the distribution reached 92 thousand students; a year later, it dropped to 87,000. The year 2021 recorded yet another drop: 84,000 grants were distributed, the lowest level since 2013.
In a note, Capes informed that the 30% readjustment in the value of benefits, under discussion in the government, would bring an impact of R$ 1.4 billion on Capes’ budget.
Bill no. 4144/2021, presented by deputy Paulo Teixeira (PT-SP), provides for the correction of CNPq and Capes scholarship values according to the official inflation index every two years. The project was approved by the Commission for Science and Technology, Communication and Informatics at Chamber of Deputies in the last week of November and will be sent to the Education Committee for evaluation.
This report was produced as part of the 7th Science and Health Journalism Program of Folha de S.Paulo, which had the support of the Serrapilheira Institute, Roche Laboratory and the Albert Einstein Beneficent Society.