University of Campinas
  • No. Students: 34616
  • No. Staff: 1795
  • Study mode: 20 On campus
  • Languages of instruction: English
  • Phone:
  • +551935212121
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About Unicamp

The University of Campinas (Portuguese: Universidade Estadual de Campinas), commonly called Unicamp, is a public research university in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, and one of the best universities in the country and in Latin America.

Established in 1962, Unicamp was designed from scratch as an integrated research center unlike other top Brazilian universities, usually created by the consolidation of previously existing schools and institutes. Its research focus reflects on almost half of its students being graduate students, the largest proportion across all large universities in Brazil, and also in the large number of graduate programs it offers: 153 compared to 70 undergraduate programs. It also offers several non-degree granting open-enrollment courses to around 8,000 students through its extension school.

Its main campus occupies 3.5 square kilometres (860 acres) located in the Barão Geraldo district, a suburban area 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) from the center of Campinas, and, built shortly after the creation of the university. It also has satellite campuses in Limeira, Piracicaba and Paulínia, and manages two technical high schools located in Campinas and Limeira. Funding is provided almost entirely by the state government and, like other Brazilian public universities, no tuition fees or administrative fees are charged for undergraduate and graduate programs.

Unicamp is responsible for around 15% of Brazilian research, a disproportionately high number when compared to much larger and older institutions in the country such as the University of São Paulo. It also produces more patents than any other research organization in Brazil, being second only to the state-owned oil company, Petrobras. Multiple international university rankings place it amongst the best universities in the world, with QS placing it in the Top 200 globally and ranking it the 11th best university under 50 years, and in 2015 it was rated as the best university in the country by Brazil's Ministry of Education.

History of Unicamp

1960s: Foundation

In the early 1960s the Government of the State of São Paulo planned to open a new research center in the interior of the state to promote development and industrialization in the region, and commissioned Zeferino Vaz, founder of the University of São Paulo's School of Medicine in Ribeirão Preto, to organize it. In parallel, a medical school was being planned in Campinas, a demand from the local population that dated from the early 1940s. The School of Medicine of Campinas was created by law in 1959, but actual implementation never took place.

The new university was created by law on December 28, 1962, but effective functioning begun in 1966. Before that, only the School of Medicine functioned. In April 1963 the first vestibular, the general admissions exam, happened, with 1,592 candidates competing for 50 spots in the medicine program. The first lecture in the newly created University of Campinas took place on May 20 of the same year. By 1965, the organizing commission for the new university started looking for a location for a new campus.

A large area comprising 110 hectares (270 acres) was donated by the Almeida Prado family, located in a valley in the district of Barão Geraldo in the city of Campinas, near the intersections of multiple highways. Until then, Barão Geraldo was a small village surrounded by farmland, in particular sugar cane plantations. The new development brought dramatic change to the district, resulting in entire new neighborhoods being zoned, planned and built, usually by the same Almeida Prado family.

Work on the new campus begun on October 5, 1966, and the first building completed was the Institute of Biology, followed by administrative buildings. In the same year, Zeferino Vaz was nominated the rector. In parallel to the new campus, new units were opened in other cities, absorbing local schools. The Dental School of Piracicaba was absorbed in 1967, and in 1969 the Engineering School of Limeira.

1970–1990: Growth and crisis

Over the following two decades, the new university expanded rapidly. The campus quickly grew to 19 institutes and schools, and after Zeferino Vaz died in 1981 was named after him. With the campus construction completed, the School of Medical Sciences (formerly the School of Medicine of Campinas) was moved into the new campus, and its teaching hospital, Hospital de Clínicas, became the largest public hospital in the region.

Expansion on the campus continued rapidly, with new buildings, institutes and expansions being added nearly every year. But by the late 1970s, the university faced a crisis. During its fast expansion, it relied on draft bylaws, mostly borrowed from the University of São Paulo, and lacked formal internal regulations with the aging Zeferino Vaz, while no longer the rector, acting as a moderating force between parties with conflicting interests, in particular the leftist academic community and the State's government, appointed by the conservative military regime ruling the country.

After Zeferino's death in 1981, a conflict took place between the university's General Coordinator, appointed and backed by the government, and the Directive Council, composed of directors of the different institutes.The rector introduced new rules reducing the power of the General Coordinator. As retaliation, the State's government removed 6 members of the Directive Council, replacing them with people from the state's Education Council, loyal to the governor, Paulo Maluf.

Tensions between the academic community and the government-appointed counselors increased, with the future Minister of Education, Paulo Renato Costa Souza, then president of the Faculty Association, classifying the episode as a "white intervention". Following the dismissal of several institute heads and members of the administration, the administrative workers went on strike, with the support of students and faculty. With activities in the university frozen by the strike, the governor declared a formal intervention in the university in October 1981.

Despite the police-backed intervention, the university continued on strike. The appointed institute heads failed to break the stalemate between internal and external forces, and by early 1982, discussions begun on a new list of candidates to the rectorship. Eventually, José Aristodemo Pinotti, a former dean of the School of Medical Sciences generally considered a moderate, was selected by the academic community and accepted by the governor. In the following week, on April 19, 1982, the intervention was lifted, and academic activities resumed normally.

After the crisis, Unicamp saw a period of renewal and restructuring. In 1983 the bylaws were rewritten, ensuring the autonomy of the academic community, and the new management structure for the campus was implemented. In 1986 the newly created University Council replaces the previous Directive Council as the supreme body of the university. The last years of the 1980s saw a reformulation of the admissions exam, expansion of the laboratories and the completion of the first units of the student housing.

1990 onwards

With a new administrative structure capable of supporting continuous growth and with its autonomy secured, Unicamp went through a period of consolidation in the 1990s. There was an increase in night programs, created to provide an alternative for low-income students who had to work during the day, and to increase utilization of classrooms and the existing infrastructure, reaching one third of total available places.

The period also saw an expansion of the technology industry in the region, centered around Unicamp, with Motorola, IBM, Solectron, Lucent Technologies and many others set up research labs and production centers in the region driven by the large number of highly qualified students graduating every year, culminating in the opening of the Institute of Computing in 1996.

In the 2000s Unicamp consolidated itself as one of the leading research and education centers in Latin America but also brought new challenges: just as with other public universities in Brazil, the high payroll costs (over 90% of the total budget) constrain investment and expansion. This is further aggravated by the economic depression that Brazil is facing since 2014, the largest in the country's history.


Institutional Accreditation or Recognition - Ministério da Educação, Brazil

Year of first Accreditation - 1966


Multiple international university rankings place it amongst the best universities in the world, with QS placing it in the Top 200 globally and ranking it the 11th best university under 50 years, and in 2015 it was rated as the best university in the country by Brazil's Ministry of Education

Student life @Unicamp


Similarly to other Brazilian universities, Unicamp offers no large-scale in-campus housing, and most students live either near the campus or in Campinas. A student tradition in Brazil, inherited from the Portuguese universities, is the república, a fraternity-style private housing where multiple students rent large houses or apartments and live together. Dues to the suburban campus and the large number of students coming from other cities, repúblicas play a key role in the student life, serving as centers for social life, parties and also study and work areas. While some repúlicas have existed for decades, sometimes moving from one house to another, most are formed by students in the same or similar classes, and last for a few years.

Besides repúblicas, studio apartments are very common around the univesity. While more expensive than the shared houses, they afford more privacy and have more flexible contracts, are well as being furnished.

University housing

Unicamp provides a limited amount of free housing to low income students in the Student Residence compound. Built in 1992, it is located near the center of Barão Geraldo, about four kilometers from Unicamp, and is served by a university shuttle that takes student to the campus and back free of charge. The compound has 226 houses of 60 square metres (650 sq ft), with a capacity of four students per house, and 27 studios of 46 square metres (500 sq ft), for couples with children, a total of 904 vacancies in houses and 54 adults in the studios. Assignment criteria is means-based, with lower income students receiving priority.

The Student Residence supports several cultural projects developed by voluntary and worker students and open to the participation of internal and external community. It encourages interdisciplinary training and integration between the resident students and the external community. The diversity of races and cultures, brought by colleagues from other states and countries is an advantage for the residents who live in the house, facilitating full citizenship, through the exercise of their rights and duties within the community.

University restaurants

There are multiple restaurants operated and subsidized by the university serving only the academic community. Commonly called bandejão ("large tray" in Portuguese) due to the metal trays used to serve the students, the restaurants provide up to three meals per day, each one costing R$ 2, a price that has not been updated in over a decade, despite the strong inflation. The main bandejão is located near the center of the circular campus, receiving students from all different areas of the university and acting as the informal social heart of the university where events, parties and political campaigns are announced to the students.

The restaurants at the University are staffed with nutritionists and food engineers, often students at the university, offering balanced menu that meets the nutritional needs of the university population, serving over 10 thousand meals per day at the main campus. The menu usually consists of rice and beans, a traditional staple food in Brazil, a type of meat (chicken, beef, sausage, pork, etc.), textured soy protein for vegetarians, salad, juice, and dessert.

There are three such restaurants in the main campus, with two additional restaurants located in the Limeira and Piracicaba campuses. In all of them access is restricted to those who have a university-issued smart card ID, which is also used to pay for the food. In addition to the subsidized restaurants, there are several smaller, privately ran restaurants across the campus and many more located in Barão Geraldo, often just a short walk away from the campus.


There are no university-sponsored athletic programs at Unicamp, and sporting competitions, either internal or played with other schools, are entirely organized by the students. The Liga das Atléticas da Unicamp, a university-wide league of the different athletic associations, is responsible for organizing internal sporting events, such as the Unicamp Olympics.

In addition to internal competitions, there are multiple external competitions between several universities focused on different areas of study: in the Intermed medical students from different universities compete against each other, and in the Engenharíadas, engineering students gather to play sports. The games are usually held in the city of one of the participating universities over a long weekend, with students being housed in public schools, farms and hotels.

The university has a sports center with courts for basketball, volleyball, a full size regulation football field, an athletics field with running tracks, a competition swimming pool, a covered gymnasium for indoor spectator sports, attached to a convention center.

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