Brazil’s Ministry of Education is limiting the number of academics who can attend conferences, Times Higher Education reports. One researcher from each federal institute or university is allowed to go to any given international meeting, while two from each institution can go to conferences held in Brazil. The limits apply even if the federal government is not footing the bill for travel.
Scientists who criticize the restrictions say they are part of continued attempts by President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration to undermine science.
The government’s new rule is “a clear attempt to curtail academics’ freedom of speech and research,” University of São Paulo business professor Adriana Marotti de Mello tells Times Higher Ed. “Science is made with the exchange of ideas [and] knowledge. Those people currently running the ministry have no idea about how science works.”
Scientific societies have written to the government and asked that the limits be revoked. The ministry does allow for exceptions, and the agency tells Times Higher Ed that it will consider revising the rule based on feedback from the scientific community.
Last year, more than 1 million people in Brazil protested the government’s budget cuts to education and research.
Kerry Grens is a senior editor and the news director of The Scientist. Email her at email@example.com.