Colombians, Ecuadorians flock graduate colleges in Venezuela

Matriculating a Ph.D in Peru, Chile or Colombia would cost between US$28,000 and US$40,000.
On Wednesday, Venezuela’s Foreign Affairs Ministry reported, citing a BBC investigation, that Colombian and Ecuadorian professionals are pursuing graduate studies in the Bolivarian Republic, in droves.

The influx of Venezuela’s neighbors, who are seeking higher education, is largely due to the quality and affordability of the country’s university system. Currently, there are at reportedly some 600 professionals from Ecuador and Colombia at the Universidad del Zulia (LUZ).

“It takes three hours by airplane to arrive in Caracas. You must also pay for hotel, meals, and taxis but the effort is worth it,” Tito Bohorquez, an Ecuadorian agronomist reading for a Ph.D in Agricultural Sciences, stated, adding that his expenditure is an affordable US$3,000 annually for studies in Venezuela.

Comparably, a similar matriculation in Peru, Chile or Colombia would cost between US$28,000 and US$40,000.

One Colombian architect who is studying for a graduate degree, Rafael Palmera, added that education in Venezuela “is more affordable than in Colombia. Besides the savings, the teaching quality is unique.”

Medicine, one of the most in-demand careers, has attracted hundreds of students, according to Freddy Pachano, a pediatric surgeon and director of the graduate program in pediatrics at the university.

“Fifteen years ago [in Ecuador] 500 doctors graduated a year and there were 200 places for postgraduates. Now, more than 2,000 young people are trained and there are at most 500 specialty positions,” Leonardo Bravo, executive director of Ecuador’s Asociacion de Facultades de Ciencias Medicas y de la Salud (Afeme), said.

The average annual cost of studies at a private university in Ecuador tops US$6,000.

Ecuadorian professionals seeking doctoral education, in Venezuela, can also benefit from specially designed programs at the Universidad Catolica Andres Bello (UCAB) in Caracas.

“Given that there are no Ph.D. programs in education in Ecuador… the university promoted its program, presented its curricula and finally its project was approved,” Guayanaweb reported, citing Tulio Ramírez, director of the Ph.D. programs in education at UCAB.

“I decided to be part of this university because of its international prestige. It is among the best in Latin America and that is something we are checking. To date we have received an education in line with international requirements… and that will help us out as professionals of the highest academic level,” Vinicio Ceballos, an Ecuadorian engineer, comment.

In October 2015, the first batch of 52 Ecuadorians arrived at the UCAB.

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