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Higher Education

Students who have completed secondary school may enter a public or private university, a non-university institution, or a military school. Programs are offered by both public and private universities and institutions; postsecondary degree and certificate programs beyond secondary school may require two to seven years to complete and focus on a single area of study.

Argentina has more than 80 public and private universities offering degree programs; they may be mass metropolitan universities or private elite institutions. On the whole, however, all are non-residential universities with their students commuting to class from their homes. The public universities are often plagued by strikes and political conflicts. Academic equipment is generally rather poor, and in many instances the educational technology is rather primitive. The number of graduate-degree programs more than doubled in the 1990s, totaling more than 1,000, and between 10,000 and 15,000 students were enrolled in these programs, up from only 3,000 a decade ago. Forty percent of these graduate programs are master's degree programs.

The private and public sectors cooperate in providing education in geographically isolated areas. If a private institution operates in a community where no public school exists, the national government might pay teachers' salaries, depending on the resources of the community. The largest institutions tend to locate in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area, while in the rest of the country most private institutions are small and operate with the support of the Catholic Church. A new wave of private institution development has taken place since 1989 and is part of the overall privatization policy geared to shift the burden of financing higher education to the private market.

The University of Buenos Aires, in many ways, represents public higher education in Argentina. Since the 1980s, the University's budget has been woefully inadequate, and overcrowding has become a chronic problem. More than 250,000 students are spread among its 12 faculties and 4 schools. The number of professors, both full-time and part-time, cannot keep pace with massive enrollments. Curricula are outmoded, and the University lacks adequate libraries, laboratories, and modern teaching aids. Students and faculty alike must pay for their books and Internet access. Most professors work part time, teaching a course or two per term for token payment. In most of the faculties, fewer than 20 percent are full time, but even full-time faculty members must hold other jobs, since yearly salaries average only about $24,000 for senior faculty. Full-time faculty are evaluated every seven years and must compete for their jobs in an open contest with other applicants. Part-time staff members have no place to meet students or prepare for class. Even many full-time faculty are without offices of their own.

Entering students encounter several obstacles from the beginning. Most of them hold jobs while studying and must take a one-year general-education course that is overcrowded and taught by part-time staff. Sixty percent of those who start this course either drop out or fail the examinations. Even those who survive have virtually no contact with professors until late in their academic program, if then. In some disciplines, such as medicine, the dropout rate approaches 90 percent. Only about 7 percent of those who enroll end up graduating, and the average time for graduation is nine years.

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Education - Free Encyclopedia Search EngineGlobal Education ReferenceArgentina - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education - NONFORMAL EDUCATION