Universities take affirmative action

Ten years ago affirmative action gradually started being adopted in both state and federally funded Brazilian universities, in an attempt to give underprivileged Brazilians better chances of getting free higher education – and thus access to better jobs. Now ‘quotas’ are mandatory in all of Brazil's 59 federal universities, which have until 2016 to reserve half of their positions for affirmative action, writes Julia Carneiro for BBC News.

The racial quotas have sparked wide controversy in Brazil. Many who are against them argue that easing access to higher education denies the principle of merit that brings excellence to universities. Quota critics also argue that Brazil has never before had public policies based on race and that this establishes divisions in society.

Before the Quotas Law was introduced for federal universities, the State University of Rio de Janeiro was a pioneer of affirmative action. After 10 years, Rector Ricardo Vieiralves says their experience challenges critics' arguments and that the quotas programme has been successful. He says there are fewer dropouts among students admitted through quotas, and they are the ones who graduate the fastest.
Full report on the BBC site