Latin America may not be considered a first choice by international students for academic exchange, and global universities do not seem to consider this part of the world as a priority for the development of exchange partnerships. Why this is the case leads one to ask the following: is there a global understanding of the Latin American educational systems, quality of their programs or administration processes, or is it merely a matter of location? Perhaps, Latin America is seen more as a holiday hotspot rather than a strategic choice to strengthen career prospects.
There are some interesting facts about the region. Public expenditure in education is significant in Cuba and Bolivia where it makes up 9.1% and 6.1% of their national budget respectively. These represent higher proportions than in the USA (5.3%), UK (5.6%), and France (5.7%) in the same year of reference. Furthermore, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Brazil and Paraguay all invest at least 4% in education. Mexico, in particular, has made major and consistent investments in education during recent years; their proportion of GDP in 2005 was 5.5%.
In most cases, universities that profile in the QS World RankingTM Top 400 are based in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile. For example, UNAM, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Universidad Austral, Universidad de Sao Paulo, UNICAMP and Universidad de Chile.
As indicated by the Chilean journal America Economia in their annual ranking for business schools in the region, there are highly qualified and recognised business schools for almost every country of the region among others, (see table below), that foster exchange programs with well known universities particularly in Europe and USA, such as ESADE in Spain, HEC in France, HHL in Germany and any others in the USA as Arizona State University, Tulane University, University of Texas at Austin among others.
|Colombia||Universidad de los Andes|
|Chile||Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC)|
|Brazil||Fundação Getulio Vargas|
|México||Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM)|
|Venezuela||Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administracion|
Latin-America’s largest populations are mainly concentrated in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina, representing 70% of the region, with 396.5 million inhabitants. Despite the world economic crisis over the last year, the region has experienced an important growth of 4% GDP on average, with Peru, Panama and Argentina growing at 9.9%, 9.2% and 6.8% respectively.
Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world as mother tongue, after Chinese, by 329 million people in 44 countries and these figures will likely increase as there are already around 14 million students around the world learning Spanish as a second language by 2008**. This number will also rapidly increase since, in 2010, Brazil – one of the most populated and market oriented countries in the region – made Spanish a compulsory language to learn in classrooms from the age of 7. It is expected that in just a few short years an additional 41 million Brazilians under 17 will be able to read and speak Spanish. In the United States, Spanish is the primary language spoken at home by over 34 million people aged 5 or older, representing over 12% of the population. In states such as New Mexico, California and Texas more than 30% of the population speaks Spanish***. Read more