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Universities in Uruguay

Universidad de Montevideo

Montevideo, Uruguay
The Universidad de Montevideo is a private university based in Montevideo, Uruguay. It was founded in 1986, but gained the right to be legally named a university in 1997. The institution has seven departments: Department of Management Science and Economics; Department of Law; Department of Communication; Department of Humanities; Department of Engineering; IEEM (business school); Center of Biomedical sciences. The school follows the mission to promote a culture of work and service through excellence in all academic activities.

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About universities in Uruguay

Uruguay has five universities, all located in the capital, Montevideo. These universities offer a wide range of academic programs, of which the most popular are those that are seen as prestigious, including law, medicine, engineering, and economics. Of Montevideo’s five universities, only one is public: the University of the Republic. Founded in 1849, it is by far the oldest university in the country.

Public university education is free for all citizens, and is ostensibly open to anyone who has graduated from high school. Unlike in some countries, the public universities do not close their doors to applicants who do not have high enough scores on standardized tests. This encourages many Uruguayan secondary school students, especially in the capital and nearby cities, to choose a college preparatory path and make plans to attend college.

Although higher education is technically available to all Uruguayans free of charge, the ideal of universal college education is far from realized. For one thing, the concentration of university-level programs in Montevideo makes attending college more difficult for students in other cities. It becomes almost impossible for high school graduates in rural areas, who may not be able to afford relocation to the city. Moreover, poor families in both rural and urban areas may be unable to forgo the additional income of a working child. The need to earn an additional income to support their families prevents many children of poor families from attending college.

Once in college, many students stay for considerably longer than the four to six years that their programs plan for. In some cases, this is due to the need to work one or more jobs during college, which prevents some students from taking the usual load of courses. College completion thus takes considerably longer for less affluent students. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that university students get numerous discounts and other economic advantages, so there is an incentive to drag one’s time in university out for as long as possible. Because there is no tuition at the public universities, there is no reason to withdraw from school unless absolutely necessary. The result is that many people in Uruguay get into college and stay for several years, taking the minimum number of courses, before either graduating or dropping out.

The biggest problem faced by the higher education system of Uruguay is the lack of jobs for college graduates. Prestigious fields such as law and medicine, which are extremely popular among college students, do not correspond to growth sectors in the Uruguayan economy. So huge numbers of graduates with medical and other prestigious degrees are emigrating to wealthier countries where there are more jobs available. Known as “brain drain,” this outflow of human capital plagues many developing countries, and Uruguay is no exception.