Bleak future for Brazil
Academics in Brazil are fearful that universities and scientific research will suffer from a funding crisis after the country’s presidential election. Jair Bolsonaro is favourite to become the next president at a time when research funding is already at its lowest ebb in 13 years. Bolsonaro, a right-wing candidate who has expressed his admiration for Donald Trump, has hinted through his finance spokesman that his administration would freeze spending on research.
Some academics believe that Bolsonaro also wants to censor left-wing thinking on university campuses through what they call a ‘gag law’, which prevents teachers expressing political views. Business professor at the University of Sao Paulo – Adriana Marotti de Mello – told Times Higher Education “I am talking to lots of friends in academic areas who have plans to leave Brazil if Bolsonaro wins and successfully implements his plan.”
Part of his plan, she said, might involve censoring books that ‘do not tell the truth’ about Brazil’s former military dictatorship. If Bolsonaro is defeated by his left-wing opponent Fernando Haddad on October 28, many worry that education will suffer nonetheless. Haddad has said nothing about supporting universities or research, and the country is still grappling with the impact of a serious recession in 2017.
Student numbers collapse in Romania
The number of Romanian students attending university in the country has more than halved in the past decade, according to a new report. There were 907,000 Romanians enrolled in domestic universities in 2009, compared to just 383,000 in the new 2018/2019 term.
A range of factors have contributed to the significant decline. Chief among them is the rise in the numbers of Romanians choosing to study abroad, especially after EU accession made it easier to secure visas. But other issues include falling high school education standards and an increasing number of university students dropping out. In 2016 only 37% of students were on course to graduate.
Another broader and more alarming factor is the country’s demographic crisis. Not only students are leaving the country, but also young people simply seeking a better life abroad. SInce 2007 more than 3.4 million Romanians have emigrated and the country’s population is expected to be around 15 million in 2050, compared to 23 million in 1990.
Gen Z drinking less
Generation Z is drinking less than the Millennials that went before them, new research suggests. More than a quarter of young people aged 16-24 told researchers from University College London that they do not drink alcohol at all.
The percentage of non-drinkers rose from 18% in 2005 to 29% in 2015. Comparably, 43% in 2005 said they regularly drank more than the recommended amount, which fell to 28% a decade later.
Dr Linda Ng Fat, the lead author of the study, said: “The increase in young people who choose not to drink alcohol suggests that this behaviour maybe becoming more acceptable, whereas risky behaviours such as binge drinking may be becoming less normalised.” She added that the rates of non-drinking had remained steady for ethnic minorities, smokers and people with mental health problems. Non-drinking had demonstrably risen among white youth, whose parents and older siblings drink alcohol regularly.
While cultural factors may be at play, financial factors are another possible cause. The price of a pint of beer has risen 2,000% in the past 40 years while spending power has declined.