Being A Student In Paraguay: 2016 vs 2017 – What Has Changed?
The South American country of Paraguay is a popular destination for both tourists and international students. The country has a number of quality higher education institutions and some private universities, too. The National University and the Catholic University are the two most popular. In 2017, the current population of Paraguay is 6,812,914, and the country maintained an allocation of 19.63% of its total expenditure on education, with 22.4% of that figure going towards higher education institutions between 2016 and the present.
The country also provides compulsory education for students for 13 years from ages of 5 to 17 years. Paraguay also makes use of three forms of education involving the formal, technical and vocational, delivered in two curriculums.
Tuition Fee/Qualification Criteria
The university education system in Paraguay determines the tuition fees and qualification criteria themselves, with little guidance from the Government. This may favour international students who want to choose this as a destination to embark on a program of study.
Currently, students will spend between $500 and $1,000 per month. From 2016 till present, the Government does not feel that it would be beneficial to provide public health care for international students..
Despite these positives, the country has been ranked as one of the worst countries for education in 2016 by the World Economic Forum out of 140 States. Paraguay pays little attention to investment in higher education.. The high level of poverty and corruption in the country has also led to a minute enrolment of students in universities.
In 2016, students of the National University of Asuncion protested against the high level of corruption witnessed within the education system. Some lecturers were being paid for several teaching positions or, in some instances, being paid twice which is not permitted in Paraguay. Furthermore, students were protesting against the poor academic standards. The University Vice Chancellor and Rector were also accused of collecting salaries which were significantly higher than the average monthly wage.
Little Investment in Higher Education Institutions
In recent years, there have been several protests surrounding the way in which budgets are allocated to education. The country’s investment in education continues to decline. With an annual GDP of 4.09%, Paraguay allocates 3.9% of it on education which is far below the regional average. University students have asked the government for an increase in spending to reflect the urgently needed changes for higher education, but whether this will be forthcoming remains to be seen.
Not only do students face an uphill struggle with their university education, but they also face an even greater task once they graduate. Unemployment rates are high (5.44% in 2017) and it is becoming increasingly difficult to secure employment.