Higher Education in Venezuela

Venezuela has more than 90 institutions of higher education, with 860,000 students in 2002. Higher education remains free under the 1999 constitution and was receiving 35% of the education budget, even though it accounted for only 11% of the student population. More than 70% of university students come from the wealthiest quintile of the population. To address this problem, instead of improving primary and secondary education, the government established the Bolivarian University system in 2003, which was designed to democratize access to "higher education" by offering heavily politicised study programmes to the public with only minimal entrance requirements. Autonomous public universities have had their operational budgets frozen by the state since 2004, and staff salaries frozen since 2008 despite inflation of 20-30% annually.

Higher education institutions are traditionally divided into Technical Schools and Universities. Technical schools award the student with the title of Técnico Superior Universitario (University Higher Technician) after completing a three-year programme. Universities award the student with the title of Licenciado (Bachelor) or Ingeniero (Engineer) amongst many others, according to the career and after completing a five-year programme in most of the cases. Some higher education institutions may award Diplomados (Specializations) but the time necessary to obtain one varies.

Post-graduate education follows conventions of the United States (being named "Master's" and "Doctorate" after the programs there).

In 2009 the government passed a law to establish a national standardised university entrance examination system, replacing public universities' internal entrance examinations. Some universities have rejected the new system as it creates difficulties for planning. The system has still not been formally implemented by the State.

National Intake System reform
In 2015, Venezuela reformed the National Intake System and gave the government total power to award positions to students in public universities. Also with the reform to the system, other variables were introduced by the Bolivarian government that made it more difficult for students who do not have a lower-class background to find a position in a public university. The reform proved controversial, with protests and accusations that the reform was ideological in nature. According to Quartz, the Bolivarian government reform "disregards several Venezuelan legal precedents", including constitutional laws.