J.L. Silva Hermenegildo1, E.M. Falcão Vieira2, M. de Moraes2, J. Rossato2

1Instituto Federal de Educação Tecnológica de Santa Catarina (BRAZIL)
2Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (BRAZIL)
The use of associated support centers in the offering of courses at a distance is part in the operational structure in a number of well known institutions in that kind of educational modality, as is the case of the British Open University – OU, and the Spanish Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia – UNED. Functioning as a privileged space in which students can find help to solve their doubts and to deal with administrative and academic matters, such support centers, in the case of Brazil and for the system of the Universidade Aberta do Brasil – UAB, were called Polos de Apoio Presencial (Local Support Centers). These poles originate from the articulation and interaction among three governmental levels (federal, state and city) with the Instituições Públicas de Ensino Superior – IPES (Public Institutions for Higher Education) linked to UAB.

The (Local Support Centers) pole in the UAB is a fundamental element in the structure of that DE program, turned into an operational extension of the Instituição de Ensino Superior (Institution for Higher Education) – IPES, which is linked to the system, in the student’s city or at the city closest to his home; it is at the poles that face-top-face meetings occur, as well as following up and guidance for the studies, lab practices and face-to-face evaluation tests.

For the UAB Program it is necessary that each support pole answers to a set of references, which allow the adjustment and composition of a infrastructure model and a management structure that takes into account the characteristics of each institution offering the course, with a view to assure the thorough development of the activities in the courses at a distance, and to offer adequate services and conditions in order to promote the social inclusion through distance education and to increase the access to Public Higher Education, stimulating regional development.

The presence of the support pole for face-to-face support together with a number of structural and organizational factors, and with the offering of courses by the Intituições de Ensino Superior – IPES, a new social movement was created, with human development in the city and region where it is located. The present paper aims at making a list of the essential aspects and the main consequences of the establishment of the Local Support Centers of the UAB in the cities in which the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina -- UFSC and the Instituto Federal de Tecnologia de Santa Catarina – IFSC are situated.