Higher education is well-developed in Côte d'Ivoire, with a university system and research centers that are highly respected in Africa. The system is organized after the French national model: holders of the selective baccalauréat follow a two-year curriculum leading to the DUEL (Diplôme Universitaire d'Etudes Littéraires), the DUES (Diplôme Universitaire d'Etudes Scientifiques), or the DEUG (Diplôme Universitaire d'Etudes Générales). One more year of study leads to the Licence (the level of an American bachelor's degree), and an additional year leads to the Maîtrise (the equivalent of a master's degree). Further studies lead to the DEA (Diplôme d'Etudes Approfondies), a post-graduate specialized degree, and after the successful defense of a doctoral dissertation, to the Doctorat de Spécialité de Troisième Cycle (the Ph.D.). The university also awards the M.D. and the degree of Doctor of Engineering. The university system in Côte d'Ivoire has grown at such a rate that, following student-led demonstrations against crowded facilities in the early 1990s, the government opened two additional campuses. The universities of Côte d'Ivoire have also acquired their own distinct identities. Until 1985, the majority of professors were expatriates from France or French-speaking countries, but by 2000 their number had dwindled to less than 5 percent of the faculty.
The Université de Cocody is the main university in Côte d'Ivoire. Founded in 1958 in Abidjan as the Centre d'Enseignement Supérieur, it became the Université Nationale de Côte d'Ivoire in 1964 and adopted its present name in 1995. It is comprised of 12 different schools, including Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, Economics, Liberal Arts, and Engineering. In 2000, there were over 45,000 students enrolled at Cocody, with a faculty of 990. In 1992, a new university opened in Bouaké, to alleviate the crowding problems of Cocody (which had been built to accommodate 7,000 students.) The Université de Bouaké started with 2,800 students and 45 professors. In 2001, it enrolled 15,700 students and employed 145 faculty members. To continue to decentralize the main campus, the government also opened the Université d'Abobo-Adjamé in Abidjan in 1995.
Côte d'Ivoire also runs numerous research institutes, including:
- Institut Africain pour le Développement Economique et Social (economics, sociology, and ethnology), founded in 1962 in Abidjan by the Society of Jesus
- Institut Pasteur de Côte d'Ivoire (research on viral diseases and AIDS), founded in 1972 in Abidjan
- Institut Pierre Richet (research on tropical endemic diseases), founded in Bouaké in 1973
- Centre de Recherches Océanographiques (research on oceanography and hydrobiology), founded in Abidjan in 1958.
Higher education in Côte d'Ivoire is not limited to the university system and its associated research facilities. In 2000, there were more than 50,000 Ivoirians students enrolled in private and public institutes of higher education and in the Grandes Ecoles. The latter are prestigious, highly selective post-graduate schools (patterned after their French models in Paris) that train the very best of the country's diplomats, politicians, civil servants and engineers:
- Ecole Nationale d'Administration, founded in Abidjan in 1960. In 2000, it enrolled more than 1000 students.
- Ecole Supérieure d'Agronomie, founded in 1996 in Yamoussoukro. In 2000 it enrolled 600 students and employed 75 teachers.
- Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Travaux Publics (civil engineering), founded in 1963 in Yamoussoukro. In 2000, it employed 97 professors for a student population of 597.
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