Why you should consider studying your degree in Latin America
Latin America is more than just about football, samba and carnivals. Source: Quinten de Graaf on Unsplash

International students tend to ignore Latin America as a possible study destination.

After all, North America, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand often get all the attention, largely due to them dominating rankings and other marketing materials international students receive.

For the most part, these regions deserve such honours. North America houses some of the top-notch universities producing ground-breaking research, the United Kingdom’s prestigious institutions carry traditions dating back centuries, while Canada and New Zealand have some of the most welcoming policies towards international students.

Ignoring other countries, however, could be a mistake for any international student planning to further their studies outside their own borders. One continent, that has long been overshadowed despite having a top education system is Latin America.

Comprising of 20 countries, the continent has more than 3,000 higher education institutions, some of which are just as renowned as those located in richer regions. Over the past four decades, the higher education sphere has also diversified and expanded the types of degrees on offer; especially graduate degrees and a spurt of private institutions opening across the region.

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With its lively culture, it goes without saying that studying here has the potential to be a unique and stimulating study abroad experience you can boast about back home.

If these rock your boat, you should definitely check out these three Latin American countries:

1. Brazil

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The largest country in the region, Brazil, is one of the few countries to have escaped the “developmental lag” when it comes to higher education compared to the rest of the world. What this means is that the country hosts some of the continent’s top universities in some of the country’s richest areas.

It dominates 76 entries out of the 300 universities featured in the QS’s Latin America University Rankings 2018. Four Brazilian universities are in the top 10: University of Campinas (Unicamp), Universidade de São Paulo (USP),  Universidade Estadual Paulista (Unesp) and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).

Beautiful beaches line its coast while each year presents a host of religious and cultural celebrations. Though it may cost slightly more to live in Brazil compared to the other countries in the region, there’s a possibility of international students being able to study for free or at a subsidised cost within its public universities.

2. Chile

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The number one university in QS’s Latin America University Rankings 2018 is Chile’s Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Founded in 1888 by Archbishop of Santiago Monsignor Mariano Casanova, this institution radiates excellence. The country also boasts thirty other institutions featured in the rankings.

Outside of campus, the capital Santiago is ranked 63rd in the most recent QS Best Student Cities index. Set close to the Andes mountains, the city makes a gentle introduction to those uninitiated to Latin America. Apart from the loud streets and haze of pollution, the metropolis is safe, clean and modern, on top of being close to the natural world which is great for those seeking adventure – think hiking and trekking trails, and even mountaineering and skiing!

Extending 4,270km along the western coast of South America, the country’s natural landscape is a bastion of visual beauty. No wonder it produced some of the world’s most prolific poets and literary stars like Isabel Allended and Pablo Neruda.

3. Mexico

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Next up is Mexico, the most visited country in the region. With more than 12,000 international students in 2014, the country’s universities are quickly gaining popularity worldwide.

The land of majestic Mayan ruins and beautiful beaches performs better than most in the QS rankings, with as many as 45 institutions landing a place. In the recent QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings, Mexico ranked 33rd.

The Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) is the country’s highest-ranked institution, placing 4th in the Latin American rankings, and 113th in the overall QS World University Rankings 2019.

More English-taught programmes are now on offer at Mexican universities, though do take note that the language of instruction here is typically Spanish.

Mexico City is a big hit among students for its contrasts and variety. Pollution and crime exist – and students should definitely be vigilant – but the city’s grand colonial-era buildings, street food and carnival celebrations more than make up for this. And with relatively low tuition fees and living costs, Mexico City and the country at large could be the ideal study destination for you.

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