Argentina is a country renowned for its Tango, beef, wine and nature, attracting millions of tourists every year. But, lesser-known is the quality of its university system and the fact that Argentine nationals and foreigners can enroll in undergraduate programs at national universities without paying tuition fees.
This may seem a bit strange, and indeed, foreign, but for Argentina it is a normal part of the overall education process. Overseen by the National Commission for University Evaluation and Accreditation (CONEAU), the courses are subject to accreditation and the universities are subject to periodic review, assuring the highest possible quality for students.
Habla usted español?
Naturally, courses are taught in Spanish, therefore, a high level of Spanish language aptitude is required. However, if it is Spanish fluency that you are in need of, specialized courses are available and are designed to meet the needs and goals of most students. There is also the opportunity to earn the internationally recognized Certificate of Spanish Language and Use (CELU). If you already have a strong command of the language, the Argentine university system includes 43 public universities and 12 private institutes which foreign students can attend tuition free, but be aware that costs for books, supplies, transportation and living expenses can add up.
If you are in Argentina as a tourist, you can attend university there without changing your status as long as the course of study ends before the legality of your stay ends. If studying for a longer period, you can obtain a student visa by providing proof of acceptance to an Argentine university – which you would have ideally obtained from your home country, but it is possible to do while in Argentina as a tourist – within 30-days of entering the country. The universities’ admissions offices should be able to assist with the procedures. Of course, the first step is finding out if citizens of your country require a visa to visit Argentina.
Chart the Course
Each institution will have its own enrollment requirements, but at the very least, proof of high school graduation, or completion of secondary school, must be furnished by the student. The tuition free rule applies to all Tertiary Education and undergraduate University level courses. Tertiary Education provided by “Institutos Universitarios” or “Institutes” usually involve one to three years of study to earn a degree for professions such as teachers and technicians, while “Universidades” or “Universities” require a commitment of four to six years of study to earn a degree in a particular field such as law, engineering or medicine. Students can move on to full tuition post-graduate studies, where some scholarships are available to foreigners.
Certainly, visiting a place purely as a tourist offers a great deal of enjoyment and the chance to get a taste of for the culture, but actually living and learning with the people from that country provides so much more. Argentina appears to have opened the door wide to foreigners who are up for a bit of “educational tourism.”