Deciding body (English)
Deciding body (Original)
Type of body
Type of Court (material scope)
Type of jurisdiction
Type of Court (territorial scope)
Outcome of the decision
A physiotherapy student sought provisional admission in the master's degree program, for which she was approved. However, the admission was denied. According to the Plaintiff, she should have been guaranteed access to postgraduate education, even though her diploma completion had been jeopardized by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the academic calendar. In other words, the Plaintiff alleged that she could not complete her undergraduate degree before the start of her master's degree classes due to circumstances beyond her control related to the pandemic. The Court denied the claim. It noted that the pandemic affected all Brazilian students. Despite this, the University, in the analyzed case, complied by adapting its activities to the social distancing regulations. The appeal was denied, prevailing on the interpretation that there was no illegality in the actions of the university authorities.
Facts of the case
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, a citizen filed a constitutional action ("Mandado de Segurança") against the rector of the Public University of the State of Santa Catarina (Udesc) seeking authorization to enroll in a graduate course at the university, even though she had been admitted she had not completed her undergraduate studies. She also requested the right to participate in educational and research projects and scholarships, including remuneration and financial aid. The citizen used the pandemic to justify the delay in her undergraduate studies, which she had not been able to finish. In the first instance, the claims were denied. The Court heard the appeal of this decision.
Type of measure challenged
Measures, actions, remedies claimed
- Tuition at the public university for the graduate program
- The right to participate in educational and research projects and scholarships
- The right to receive remuneration and financial aid.
Individual / collective enforcement
Nature of the parties
Type of procedure
Reasoning of the deciding body
The Court analyzed the individual and liquid right, which is a requirement for the review of a constitutional action. In this sense, it determined that the student had not met the requirement of completing her undergraduate degree. Additionally, it analyzed that all Brazilian students were affected by the pandemic's effects to a greater or lesser extent. Moreover, as noted in the records, the higher education institution in this case analyzed only the adequacy of its decision as related to the social distancing regulations when it postponed the closing date of the undergraduate courses. In this sense, it did not identify any illegality in requiring the completion of the undergraduate course as a requirement for access to the graduate program.
Conclusions of the deciding body
The Court concluded that, even given the current COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting delays and obstacles, enrollment in a master's program is not a right in case of incomplete graduation since such obstacles cannot be directly attributed to the institutions. The Court held that the blocking of enrollment is not illegal and that there is no right to be protected. In this sense, it denied the demand.
Fundamental Right(s) involved
- Right to education
- Right to health (inc. right to vaccination, right to access to reproductive health)
Fundamental Right(s) instruments (constitutional provisions, international conventions and treaties)
- Right to health, Art. 6, Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988
- Right to education, Art. 6, Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988
Rights and freedoms specifically identified as (possibly) conflicting with the right to health
Balancing techniques and principles (proportionality, reasonableness, others)
The Court did not apply any general principle nor weighting technique.