Higher education in Chile

Universities and colleges

Higher education in Chile

Higher education in Chile includes professional institutes (IP), technical schooling centers (CFT) and universities. There are around 25 traditional universities (16 of them are public) and over 30 private ones.

The traditional universities are part of the Council of Rectors, they were all created before 1981 or derive from one of the original ones. An exam called PSU (Prueba de Selección Universitaria) is required to enter a traditional university. Both traditional and private universities have approximately the same amount of students, 31% attend private universities and 35% attend traditional while the rest choose to continue their studies in a professional (27%) or technical (12%) institution. 

Degree levels at university

The different degrees in higher education can be, 

  • Professional institutes, giving the degree of Profesional
  • Technical Schooling Centers, giving the degree of Técnico de nivel superior (Technician)

Within university, there is a two year foundation programme of general education in a certain area named bachillerato; with it, students can continue their studies in university. 

Licenciatura is a longer program, usually four years, in a more specific area and grants the title of Licenciado, it is similar to a Bachelor’s degree. Only after obtaining this degree level, can you continue your studies with a Magister, similar to a Master’s degree. The highest degree a university can give is a Doctorado, and the person becomes a Doctor, equivalent to a PhD during which a thesis must be written. 

The school year is divided into semesters, from February or March to July and from August to December. There’s a two-week winter break and summer holidays in addition to the national holidays. 

Recognising foreign degrees

The University of Chile is the one in charge of the PSU, the University Entry Test, and also the one in charge of certifying and validating all the foreign certificates and diplomas. If you want to have your diploma recognised in Chile, you will need:

  • the original diploma
  • the original grades certificate (transcript)
  • the original curriculum
  • a legalized copy of the three of them
  • the specific curriculum of your studies (original or copy)
  • your resumé
  • a certificate proving your profession stamped by your consulate

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also requires:

  • a professional diploma or degree
  • a written record of graduation
  • an academic transcript by subjects (original) for the whole academic period
  • authenticity record accrediting that the issuing institution is officially recognised by the state
  • your passport or Chilean ID card

Chile has an agreement (Convenio cultural) with Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Bolivia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru. Expats from these countries have to address their request straight to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile in Agustinas Street Nº 1320, first floor; from Monday to Friday, 09:30-12:30 a.m. You should bring the following documents:

  • the original signed diploma,
  • the original signed degree certificate issued by the center where they studied,
  • the original signed certificate of authority proving the legal existence of the center where they studied.

These three documents must be legalized by the government of the country of origin, the Chilean consul and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile. As well, you should bring your passport proving that your are from the country where you studied. Documents from Brazil must be translated officially and this translation is given by the Translation Department of the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Tuition fees and scholarships

All universities and technical schools in Chile charge enrollment and tuition fees. The state acts as a guarantor for students attending private universities and technical schools if you apply for a loan through a private bank.

In this case, interest rates are higher than when receiving a loan granted by the government. The government loan is based on a “solidarity fund” and other scholarship programs for excellent students or students in need, but it is only for students attending traditional universities. 

Many of these scholarships and loan programs offered by the government cover just a "reference" annual tuition cost calculated for every study course. Often there is a substantial difference between the reference and the real tuition cost in some institutions. 

In the past few years, there have been lots of student demonstrations and protests because of the government plans to privatise universities.

Further reading

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