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Universidad Católica de Manizales: Meet the President

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Universidad Católica de Manizales situated in Manizales, Colombia, was recently ranked in our QS Latin America University Rankings.

To learn more about the university and how it operates, we spoke to Sister Elizabeth Caicedo Caicedo, president of the university since 2016.

How was your election process as the President of the university?

The general statutes of the university establish the institution’s president must be a sister of the community. Four years ago, the Superior Council Board – constituting Sisters of the congregation, lay people, and representatives of the student body, professors and alumni – elected me as the president of the university.

What is the main mission and pillars of the university?

As a confessional university, UCM declares in its mission that it is committed to whole-person holistic education from a humanistic, scientific and Christian vision. It also declares that the university follows high quality standards in its processes and with university criteria. Knowledge must have a high humanizing character in order to transform society and culture by educating and shaping new citizens and generating integral development in our people and their surroundings.

What is the importance of having international students?

Internationalization is declared in our academy’s vision of for international criteria and standards. Therefore, incoming students from other regions in Colombia and other countries contribute to a university wanting to cultivate multiculturalism to develop citizens with a global outlook, able to relate and interact with diverse groups inclusively.

What is the university's strategy to be attract new students?

Our strategy is based on different aspects. First, international and multilateral agreements, some of them guided by principles of reciprocity such as BRACOL, PILA, PAME, which allow us to provide international students with all the necessary conditions for their wellbeing and accommodation needs in our city.

Another important aspect is that we are also working towards bilingualism by offering courses in English that allow non-Spanish speaking students to be a part of the community.

Additionally, we have a great commitment to accompany the academic and personal processes of the students through the Office of International Relations, and specifically through our Student Exchange Office. Something else that catches the attention of new students is Manizales’s location in the center of Colombia, also holding an important position as a touristic region in Colombia. Finally, the Ministry of Education just gave the university Institutional accreditation certifying we are a high-quality university – this is another reason we are attractive to international students.

What is the communication strategy to inform international students about the university?

On our web page you can find all the information in Spanish, but there is also an English microsite, allowing all students to learn everything they need to about UCM.

Another strategy is our Direction for Internationalization in international fairs, where we participated in Brazil, Finland and Costa Rica last year. We hope to participate in higher education fairs in the US and in Barcelona, Spain this year.

We also have agreements with universities in other countries and belong to the Colombian Association of Universities - ASCUN, which holds internationalization highly too, having been visited by presidents from universities in France, Canada, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates. This is an opportunity to be regarded worldwide as an attractive university.

If a person is interested in studying at Universidad Católica de Manizales, what process must be followed?

We have an agreement with the national state through scholarships granted by ICETEX (Colombian Institute for Educational Credit and Technical Studies Abroad) and universities, which allows foreign students to access Higher Education in Colombia.

We have an annual study abroad call for students and we are also considering opening institutional international calls for incoming students following a scholarship model. 

What strategy does Manizales have to attract new students?

Manizales is considered a university town and we have a city initiative called Manizales Campus Universitario (Manizales University Campus).

Manizales is acknowledged as the number one university town in Colombia. We have about 45,000 students, six major universities and 13 branches of other higher education institutions in the country. We also have a large number of students from other regions of Colombia.

Caldas is a region that has positioned itself in the world for its culture, landscapes, the coffee zone, eco-and-agro tourism and bird watching. Manizales is part of declaration of Coffee Cultural Landcape of Colombia by UNESCO, and recently Manizales was also declared a “Learning City” by UNESCO, as well.

Which programs are most open to international students today at Universidad Católica de Manizales?

Advertising, Business Administration in Tourism, Nursing, Bacteriology, Architecture and Environmental Engineering.

What message does UCM send to students visiting the QS site and might be interested in studying at Universidad Católica de Manizales?

Manizales University is a good option for all students who want to leave their country and get to know a different culture and live in another nation.

We have six universities that will welcome all of you, so hopefully you choose Universidad Católica de Manizales.

You will not only strengthen your knowledge at one university but also take courses in several university thanks to our project SUMA Mobility (Manizales University System for Student Local Exchange). This region is a safe, welcoming and fraternal area, and it generates quality in higher education by having five accredited universities.  It is a city that offers tourism and culture to anyone who visits us.

Universidad Católica de Manizales is ready and committed to welcome you, since it is an inclusive institution that receives and embraces everyone regardless of their religion, mindset, or taste, and has a great commitment to the holistic integral education of all young people who are our present and our most valuable treasure.

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Written by Niamh Ollerton
Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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