International Education

Higher Education in CubaCuba's higher education sector has a number of public universities and numerous other higher education institutions which educate over 110, 000 citizens each year. The Ministry of Education controls policy decisions for all institutions including decisions about methodology, courses and programs and allocation of spaces to various programs. The number of spaces available in each subject area is tied to the needs of the economy. Student must have completed secondary school and passed an entrance examination to be admitted to a university. Membership in the Communist party can also affect admissions decisions. Although students can indicate their preferred course of study, they are assigned to a program based primarily on academic and political qualifications. Tuition is free for Cuban citizens. Types of Schools and DegreesThere are about 94 different undergraduate programs offered at the country's universities along with numerous master's and doctoral level programs. In addition to the traditional university programs, there are a number of "distance-education" campuses that offer degree programs during non-working hours that are designed for working people to attend. Degree programs at all universities integrate communist doctrine and socialist values into the curriculum. The most common degree earned is the Licenciatura which takes four to five years when studying full-time although medical degrees take six years. Master's degrees are awarded after completing a three-level program including a thesis. Two levels of doctoral degrees are also available. International StudentsAbout 27, 000 international students studied at a university in Cuba in 2007. International students may attend Cuban universities as a full-degree student at the graduate level or at any level through a school exchange program. Some attend a Spanish language program which are available through universities or independent study abroad programs. Foreign students are required to live in university housing or other licensed residence. A significant portion of international students attend the Latin American School of Medicine, known as ELAM, which is designed to train students from impoverished communities outside of Cuba to become primary care doctors. Tuition in this program is free for all students. Cuban universities attract large numbers of international students from South American countries such as Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua and Venezuela as well as from countries in Africa and a small number from the US. All classes are taught in Spanish. Tuition for international students is relatively low compared with tuition in the US and other western countries. Students need to obtain a student visa after being accepted in program and are required to have non-US medical insurance that can be purchased in Cuba. About CubaCuba a communist, island country located in the Caribbean. Its population of over 11 million people comes from diverse and complex origins including Spain and many other European nations as well as Africa and the indigenous population. Due to government controls, Cuban citizens have limited freedom - they cannot travel out of the country without government permission, criticize the government or connect to the internet, among many other restrictions. Cuba is ranked as having the third least amount of economic freedom in the world, behind Zimbabwe and North Korea. Cuba's economy is primarily a planned, state-controlled one but a slowly growing private sector has been allowed to exist in recent years. Tourism plays a major role in the economy along with exports of sugar, nickel, tobacco, fish, medical products, citrus and coffee. Despite limited resources, education in Cuba is a top priority of the government resulting in high enrollments, small class sizes and higher scores on standardized tests any other Latin American country. ResourcesMinistry of Higher Education (Spanish language)