September 14th, 2018
General Country Facts:
1. Located in northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Panama and Venezuela, and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Ecuador and Panama
2. Slightly less than twice the size of Texas
3. It has a population of 47,698,524 (July 2017 est.)
4. It’s capital is Bogota
5. It commits 4.5% of its GDP to education (2016), 95th in world ranking
6. 94.2% literacy amongst the ages of 15 and above
7. The government is a Presidential Republic
Overview of the Education System:
8. 11-year system of elementary (5 years), lower secondary (4 years) education, upper secondary (2 years)
9. At the university level, there are 3 levels of studies that include: profesional (professional/undergraduate), maestría/magister (master’s degree), and doctor (doctoral/PhD).
10. There are also non-university higher education degrees, técnico (technician) and tecnólogo (technologist), offered at technical institutions as well as university level institutions.
11. The Ministry of Education (Ministerio de Educación Nacional) regulates all levels of education ad outlines the learning objectives and subject areas for each grade levels. Schools are allowed to organize their own study plans according to the needs of their community.
12. The state authority of education is the Secretariat of Education (Secretaría de Educación).
13. Basic education is free and compulsory (ages 5 to 15).
14. At the university level, fees are set according each student’s socioeconomic background At public universities, tuition fees per semester can be about $1000 (US).
15. Spanish is the official language of instruction.
16. English was added as a foreign language to the overall education plan after the launch of the 2004 National Bilingual Program by the Ministry of Education.
17. English is not only now part of the state curriculum but bilingualism is also a criteria for accreditation of higher education program.
18. Accreditation of all higher education institutions and programs rests with the Ministry of Education. Accreditation is voluntary and helps enhance an institutions status and reputation.
19. Institutions that have been registered with the Ministry have permission to offer degree programs that are officially recognized and carry the status “Registro Calificado” that confirms they have met minimum requirements.
Elementary and Secondary Education:
20. Elementary Cycle (Educación Primaria) – Certificado de Educación Primaria (Certificate of Primary Education), awarded on completion of 5-year elementary cycle (Grades 1-5).
21. Lower Secondary Cycle (Educación Básica Secundaria) – Certificado de Estudios de Bachillerato Básico (Certificate of Basic Baccalaureate Studies) or Certificado de Conclusión del Ciclo Básico ) (Certificate of Completion of Basic Cycle), awarded on completion of 4 years of lower secondary cycle (Grades 6-9).
22. Upper Secondary Cycle (Educación Media) – Título de Bachiller (Title of Baccalaureate), awarded on completion of 2-year upper secondary cycle (academic and vocational tracks), Grades 10 and 11. provides access to higher education. U.S. educational equivalence: High School Diploma.
Higher Education (Educación Superior):
23. Undergraduate (Pregrado) – requires the Titulo de Bachiller and passing the Examen del Estado (national entrance examination) for admission.
24. Degree programs: Técnino Profesional (Professional Technician), 2-4 years; Tecnólogo (Technologist), 3-4 years; Titulo Profesional/Licenciado (Professional Title/Licentiate), 4-6 years [provides access to graduate admission]
25. Graduate (Posgrado) – Degree programs: Especialista (Specialist), 1 semester to 4 years [specialization following a medical degree will last up to 4 years, and an academic specialization is typically at minimum one semester or as much as 2 semesters; Magister (Master’s Degree), 1-2 years; Doctor (Doctoral Degree/PhD), 2-5 years
26. Colombia’s largest educational community, the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, has more than 46,000 students enrolled, mostly at undergraduate level.
27. U.S. colleges and universities remain the preferred overseas destination for Colombian students, despite significant competition from other countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, Spain, France, and Argentina.
28. There are several factors that make the United States a leading destination, chief among them higher employment opportunities after graduation, the high quality of education, the chance to improve English skills, and a renewed push by the Government of Colombia to encourage English bilingualism.
29. According to the Institute of International Education, Colombia is ranked 22nd in the world and third among South American Countries (after Brazil and Venezuela) in sending students to the United States.
30. There were 7,982 Colombians who traveled to the United States to study in academic year 2016/17, a 2.1 percent increase over the previous year. Based on data from the Institute of International Education, Colombian students in U.S. colleges and universities contributed USD 273 million to the U.S. economy in 2017 academic year.
31. Colombian universities are interested in having agreements with U.S. universities that offer dual degree programs for their students. This can be accomplished through a combination of two or three years at the local university and one or two years at the U.S. university.
32. In Colombia, there is a strong network of 11 Education USA centers administering language programs and doing extensive outreach around the country. Education USA centers are located at nine binational centers, the Fulbright commission, and COLFUTURO.
33. Aracataca, the birthplace of author Gabriel García Márquez, once held a referendum to rename the town ‘Aracataca-Macondo’ after the fictional town of Macondo from his famous book One Hundred Years of Solitude. Unfortunately, the referendum failed due to low turnout.
(Source: BBC, 2006)
Institute of International Education
Colombia Ministry of Education
Colombian Institute for Educational Loans and Technical Studies Abroad (ICETEX)
The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.