International Education

Higher Education in Ecuador

Ecuador's higher education systems consists of over 60 universities and over 300 institutions that provide higher technical or vocational training. A wide range of subject areas can be studied at most universities with polytechnics and some other schools specializing in only a few areas. Graduate level education is relatively immature in Ecuador and so not all university professors have a master's degree and only some university presidents and research professors have doctoral degrees. Admission criteria vary by school and may include entrance exams and secondary school grades. Tuition at public institutions is very low since they are heavily subsidized while private institutions charge substantial tuition fees. The National Council of Higher Education, which is known as CONESUP, oversees and accredits higher education institutions including both universities and non-university institutions. Universities maintain a great deal of autonomy although this is beginning to change in an effort to tie university education more directly to the country's workforce needs. Types of Schools and DegreesThe majority of students attend one of the 30 or so public universities, while others attend one of the 30 or so, smaller, private universities. There are many general universities, a significant number of polytechnic universities and a few that specialize in areas such as business. Students can earn bachelor's and master's degrees in a wide variety of subject areas but doctoral degree programs are very limited and only came into being after 2000. International StudentsInternational students can attend some of Ecuador's universities although fluent Spanish is a requirement as all courses are taught in Spanish. Many students who want to study in Ecuador do so through an exchange program with their own school. It is also common for students to study through a Spanish language or culture program which may not count towards a degree. The Universidad San Francisco de Quito is a private university that is attractive to international students who want to pursue a full degree program. Tuition for international students varies depending on the institution and whether it is private or public. About EcuadorEcuador is a South American country bordered by Columbia, Peru and the Pacific Ocean. It straddles the equator and has climates that range from tropical and humid to temperate at the higher elevations. The Galapagos Islands, which are owned by Ecuador, are a popular tourist destination known for their many unique animal species and other natural beauty. Ecuador has a population of over 14 million people who primarily speak Spanish. Public school education is compulsory through age 14 although public education is inadequate, resulting in overcrowding and the growth of attendance at private schools. A high percentage of children, especially in rural areas, do not ever attend high school. About 40 percent of those who do attend high school go to private schools. The United Nations Human Development report ranked Ecuador as 80th out of 182 countries in 2007 in terms of human development factors such as life expectancy, literacy and per capita GDP. ResourcesNational Council on Higher Education (CONESUP) (Spanish language)Ministry of Tourism