Neoliberal policies in higher education: casualization of work and teacher’s health

Joana Alice Ribeiro de Freitas
Vera Lúcia Navarro


In Brazil and other Latin American countries the 1990s was marked as the decade of structural neo-liberal adjustments, such as the deregulation of markets, a wave of privatization and a significant reduction of the State's role in the public sphere – particularly with regard to social areas such as education and health. In the area of education, specifically with regard to the public higher education, there were cuts in the volume of resources and the reduction in the proportional number of professors – between 1995 and 2005 the number of professors increased by 10% while students increased by 37.6% in graduation and 112% in post-graduation. In the private sector, the number of institutions increased by 187% and the number of students increased by 221%. The election of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, in 2000s, brought an expansion to the public higher education system which registered a growth of 31.1%, especially from 2007 with the implementation of the Restructuring and Expansion Program Public Higher Education (Reuni). With regards to teacher’s work, there was a series of changes in working conditions, such as increasing in the number of students and increasing in the time in classroom, in administrative tasks and in the levels of productivity, as well as tighter deadlines and a growing competition among peers. This workload brought an impact on these workers health – especially in cases of psychological suffering and illness. Considering the new environment in the university, which has been outlined in recent decades, the aim of this panel is to point out the relationship between casualization of working conditions, intensification of work and the sickening of teachers. It should be noted that at this moment it is been set in course in the country a new clearly neoliberal offensive guided by the precepts of Hayek and Friedman and which points to the resumption of projects of commodification of public higher education, which tends to aggravate the conditions of labor, casualize work relations, debasing wages and consequently intensify the impact on health of workers.

Higher Education - Neoliberalism - work precarization