Although Ecuador is the smallest country in South America, this does not mean that it is less varied than its larger neighbors. The fact that the opposite is true can already be seen when looking at the various regions of Ecuador, which differ immensely.
Regional diversity of Ecuador
First of all, there is the coastal region of Costa in the west, where the majority of Ecuadorians live. Next to it is the Andean region of Sierra, which runs through the country roughly in the middle from north to south. It is home to the predominantly rural population. In the far east is the impassable Amazon lowland, also called Oriente or Amazonía.
The Galapagos Islands, which are far from the mainland, occupy a special position. Here is home to a unique flora and fauna.
Population and Economy of Ecuador
Ecuador’s population is also diverse : the indigenous inhabitants are mainly descendants of the Inca. However, a not inconsiderable number of the total of 15.2 million Ecuadorians immigrated, mainly from other South American countries and Europe.
A colorful mix can also be seen in the bustling markets of Ecuador, where farmers and traders sell numerous foods, traditional textiles and jewelry. As a country located in Central America according to thefreegeography, Ecuador is a poor country. Besides agriculture, it lives mainly from oil production. To stabilize the country, the US dollar became the national currency in 2000.
The social and financial imbalance between very few rich and very many poor is high. The education of the low-income population has also suffered from these social grievances so far.
Studying in Ecuador: the types of higher education
There are hundreds of higher education institutions in Ecuador. These include 61 universities ( Universidades ) and numerous (poly) technical colleges ( Escuelas Technológicas or Politécnicas ).
The universities are all administered autonomously and half are state or private sponsorship. You decide independently about accepting a study place. There is now at least one university in every major city in Ecuador.
The universities have a wide range of subjects. The public universities are usually larger than the private ones. Short-term and postgraduate courses can be taken at the Escuelas Politécnicas. They are very practical and cover special areas such as technology, business administration and corporate management. All tertiary educational institutions and their study programs are monitored and accredited by the Consejo Nacional de Educación Superior (CONESUP).
There is an extreme educational gap between the population of the heavily populated areas of Ecuador and the rural regions. In order to change this relationship in the long term, one of the government’s goals is to enable the next generation to obtain free education up to university degrees.
Study system in Ecuador
In 2004 there was a comprehensive reform of the Ecuadorian study landscape. The courses of study have been brought into line with international standards in terms of content and duration. Since then, the study system has been divided into two study levels : Pregrado and Posgrado, i.e. an undergraduate and a postgraduate degree.
The teaching in Ecuador’s universities is quite school-like. Each semester has a fixed course plan, which is why the lessons take place in a fixed class group. Great importance is attached to the presence of the students. There are regular oral and written performance assessments in the courses.
The study achievements and time are calculated in Créditos. The language of instruction at Ecuador’s universities is the official language of Spanish. The indigenous languages Kichwa / Quichua and Shuar can be learned in parallel at some universities. Ecuador’s academic year is divided into two semesters. At the end of each semester, many universities have the Giras. These are one-week round trips that are compulsory for all local students. The young people should get to know their home country better. For foreign students, participation is voluntary, but extremely worthwhile.
The undergraduate degree: Pregrado
The Pregrado area includes, on the one hand, job-specific short-term courses, the degrees of which are generally referred to as Diplomas Superiores. They are particularly common in engineering and natural science subjects and end with the degrees Técnico or Tecnólogo. Two to three years of study are to be taken into account for such a degree.
There are also long-term courses that last twice as long. They end either with the academic degrees Licenciatura / Licenciado or with job-specific titles, the Títulos Profesionales. In very practical subjects such as architecture or engineering, the course lasts five to six years.
In medical subjects and some economics subjects are professional doctorates awarded. A medical degree takes the longest at seven.
Postgraduate studies: Posgrado
Several types of degrees are possible in the Ecuadorian Posgrado area: An equivalent to the German master’s program is the two-year course leading to a Maestria / Magíster degree. Such a degree leads to a deepening of the previous knowledge and a technical specialization. The title is awarded after the successful submission of the written master’s thesis and its oral defense. In the medical field, the Posgrado course lasts three years and ends with the title Especialista.
Doctoral studies in Ecuador
Only a few Ecuadorian universities have offered doctoral programs at all since 2000. Such a program includes a further two to three years of study devoted to writing the scientific doctoral thesis. With the defense of the doctoral thesis, the title Doctorado is awarded with the corresponding professional supplement.