A total of 14 higher education institutions serve Nicaragua. The most popular course of study at these schools are international relations, business, and medicine. The Consejo Nacional de Universidades, a body with representatives from all member institutions provides oversight and governance to all higher education facilities, while the Asociación Nicaraguense de Instituciones de Educación Superior coordinates higher education services and planning in both the areas of academics and administration. This latter organization also helps to facilitate communication and academic freedom between and within member institutions.
University study typically follows the following sequence. The first level of study culminates in the awarding of the Licenciatura, normally attained after four or five years of study, depending on the subject, and indicating a basic professional qualification. The shortest course of study is a two-year program in accounting and the longest is the six-year sequence for medicine, although the degree granted in that field is Doctor. The second stage of studies in the university leads to the Maestría (Masters) degree. This degree follows a two-year course of study and the presentation and defense of a thesis. Grading typically is done on a scale of 0 to 100 percent with 70 percent as the lowest passing grade. Instruction in all of these institutions is carried out in Spanish with the exception of the English-based University of Mobile, Latin American Campus.
Public & Private Institutions: Nicaragua's higher education is provided by four categories of institutions. The most prominent among these is the Universidad Pública (Public University) including the Universidad Americana. The Universidad Católica de Nicaragua (UNICA) and Universidad Centroamericana, a Jesuit university founded in 1960, represents the second category, the Universidad Privada (Private University). The remaining categories are the Centro Técnico Superior (Higher Technical Center) and the Centro de Investigación y de Capacitación (Research Center).
Admission to university-level studies requires the student to have earned the Bachillerato credential from their secondary school. In addition, students are required to sit for the Prueba de Ingreso (entrance exam). Non-Nicaraguan students should hold an equivalent secondary credential as well as be proficient in Spanish. The government provides for the autonomy of the universities and other higher education facilities. The management of the universities is constitutionally delegated not only to the administration of the institution, but to the "professors, students, and workers," although their relative participation in management is not defined by law. Many students pay nothing for their education with all expenses covered through government aid. The maximum fee at the public institutions is 150 cordoba (US$40) per semester while the average at the private universities is about US$1,000 per year.
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