Higher Education in Chile


Students can choose between 16 public universities and 43 private. Used to be 60 Universities, but Universidad del Mar went into bankruptcy and will be no longer providing education.

All public universities and 23 private ones use a single admission system called PSU (Prueba de Selección Universitaria, "University Selection Test"), designed and evaluated by the University of Chile, and consisting of two mandatory exams, one in Mathematics and one in Language. There are also two additional specific exams, Sciences (including Chemistry, Physics and Biology fields) and History, which may be required by some undergraduate programs. The cumulative grade point average achieved during secondary school is also taken into account in the final admission score, as well as the student's relative position in his class and two previous promotions. Every university assigns different weightings to the results of the various exams for the various programs offered. Some universities may require additional (non-PSU) tests or personal interviews for admission to some programs.

There is a gap on the PSU test scores regarding secondary education among public schools and private schools. This is almost 130 points difference in favor of private schools.

In 2014, a total of 247,291 people took both mandatory PSU tests (nearly 71 thousand were from previous promotions).

The drop out rate is 30% from first year students. The main factors are economic problems, vocational and psychological aspects.

IPs and CFTs
Professional Institutes (PI) and Technical Schooling Centers (CFT) require a secondary education license only for admission.

The net enrollment ratio (covering students between 18 and 24 years) in 2009 was 28.88%, while the gross enrollment ratio (covering students of any age) was 38.73%.

Since 1999 till 2012 the budgets for public education have increased from 3,8% of the GDP till 4.5% of the GDP in public spending. Evidence shows that Chile is spending almost 40% more of its GDP in higher education compare to the average OECD countries, from 2.4% of the GDP in Chile compare to the 1.7% of the GDP in the average OECD

Note: This section is outdated. Starting in 2016, 30 public and private universities are now free of charge for students belonging to the poorest 50% of the population.

All universities, institutes and technical schools in Chile charge enrollment and tuition costs. There are, however, several government scholarship programs granted to students based on merit or need. Socioeconomically disadvantaged students from any type of officially recognized educational institution may seek loans through private banks with the State acting as guarantee ("Crédito con Aval del Estado", CAE). There are also loan programs offered by the government exclusively to socioeconomically disadvantaged students of "traditional" universities ("Fondo Solidario de Crédito Universitario", FSCU). These loans --private and public-- have a fixed interest rate of 2% and must be paid back by the student after graduation. For CAE loans, the payment is equal to 10% of the former student's annual wage, and 5% for FSCU loans. The debt is written off after 15 years for CAE loans, and 12 for FSCU loans. Most scholarships and loan programs offered by the government only cover a "reference" annual tuition cost calculated by the government for each program. The gap between the reference and the real tuition cost can be substantial at some private (and even public) educational institutions. Students are required to maintain a certain level of academic achievement to keep the benefit, which may vary from institution to institution.

There are also government-funded programs giving students: a monthly stipend, a debit card to buy food, and a student card to pay for cheaper transportation. All programs (except transportation) are based on merit, need, indigenous background or geographical residence.

In 2012 947,063 students were enrolled in tertiary education programs. Of these, 548,119 (58%) received either scholarships or loans by the government. Of the totality of programs awarded during 2012 (623,086; students may benefit from more than one program), scholarships represented 35% and loans 65% (14% FSCU and 51% CAE).