Higher education in Ecuador
Ecuador is in the midst of reforming its university system, with the aims of improving higher education standards and making admissions fairer.
As of 2012, the country has introduced a standard aptitude test for the 29 public universities, which cater for around 70% of students. The test is designed to measure aptitude for learning, rather than actual knowledge, in the hope that this will increase the number of students from lower income backgrounds who gain entry.
Meanwhile, as part of the plan to raise teaching standards, all professors will be required to have at least a master’s degree by 2017 – and ideally a doctoral qualification.
At present, however, graduate degrees are relatively rare in Ecuador. Only three universities currently grant PhDs – and only about 20 per year are completed.
The government’s plan to raise standards also means a clamp down on so-called ‘garage universities’ – higher education institutions deemed as failing to meet required standards of teaching, facilities and academic resources.
Those which fail to make sufficient improvements within a two-year period will be closed, while all public universities will have to account publicly for how they spend government funding – which amounts to around US$490 million per year.
As of 2009, Ecuador had 71 universities, attended by more than 61,000 students. Ecuador’s highest entry in the 2013 QS University Rankings: Latin America is the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador, ranked 83rd in Latin America.
Another eight Ecuadorian universities appear in the top 300 for Latin America, and while the country’s higher education system is still in need of development before it attains world-class status, Ecuador does have a long tradition of higher education. The two Quito-based universities that merged to form the Universidad Central del Ecuador both trace their origins back to the 17th century.
Discover Ecuador's top universities - QS University Rankings: Latin America >