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Universidade de Campinas

Universidade de Campinas

Established only four decades ago, the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) has developed into one of Latin America's leading universities, currently accounting for an estimated 15 percent of the academic and scientific research done in Brazil. One of São Paulo's three state universities, UNICAMP receives most of its funding from a fixed parcel of state tax revenues, with additional resources coming from state, federal, and international agencies. Although financially subordinate to the state government, the university retains a great measure of autonomy in terms of educational policies and priorities. Its origins and early growth were bound closely to the projects and actions of Zeferino Vaz (1908–1981), a charismatic educator whose previous experience included the creation of a medical school in Ribeirão Preto and a controversial stint as intervening rector at the University of Brasília, following the military coup of 1964. After breaking ground for the new campus in a cane field on the outskirts of Campinas in 1966, Vaz led an ambitious campaign to hire more than 200 foreign professors along with many notable Brazilian researchers. With a heavy emphasis on technical research, graduate studies, and cooperation with the private sector, UNICAMP sought to establish an innovative focus from the outset. At the undergraduate level, a common core curriculum, with classrooms strategically located at the hub of the circular campus, also set UNICAMP apart from other Brazilian universities. Over time, however, much of this early distinctiveness faded, in part because of the expansion of graduate programs throughout the country and in part because of the development of strong humanities and social science programs at UNICAMP. In 2006 nearly 47,000 candidates took the standard entrance exam (vestibular), vying for 2,830 spots in fifty-eight undergraduate programs. More than 10,000 students currently are enrolled in sixty-two graduate degree programs (masters and doctorate), including a growing number of foreign students, most of whom are from other Latin American countries.

See alsoEducation: Overview; Universities: The Modern Era.


Gomes, Eustáquio. O Mandarim: História da infância da Unicamp. Campinas, Brazil: Editora da Unicamp, 2006.

                                   John M. Monteiro

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