Alongside a number of other Latin American countries, Argentina has seen its universities make significant progress in the international university rankings in recent years.
The nation’s highest placing in the 2012/13 QS World University Rankings is the Universidad de Buenos Aires, ranked at 230. Also in the top 500 are the Universidad Austral, Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina Santa María de los Buenos Aires, Universidad Nacional de La Plata and Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.
Indeed, there’s certainly no shortage of choice when it comes to finding a world-class institution to study at in Argentina. This variety is also matched by the range of activities available to those who choose to spend time in the country.
Argentina's capital city Buenos Aires is the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after Brazil’s São Paulo, and is absolutely packed with things to see and do – from outdoor markets, cute cafés and historic architecture, to gourmet restaurants, designer boutiques and trendy bars.
For a slightly more laid-back location, you may choose to study in nearby La Plata, or, perhaps further northwest, in Córdoba. Both offer many of the same attractions as the capital – including top universities – but on a less overwhelming scale.
Meanwhile, beyond these exciting urban hubs lie huge expanses of incredible natural beauty, just waiting to be explored.
Argentina’s capital and largest city, Buenos Aires, appears at 24th in the QS Best Student Cities ranking for 2012. The city is home to five universities ranked by QS, and also picks up high scores for affordability and popularity with employers.
Buenos Aires is also known for its vibrant nightlife, attractive architecture – much of it European in style – and an arts and culture scene arguably unrivalled in Latin America. Other notable cities for students in Argentina are Córdoba, Rosario, San Miguel de Tucuman, Mar del Plata and Mendoza.
As you’d expect, student life can vary considerably between different regions of Argentina, but many of these cities offer an attractive combination of old and new – historic buildings and modern nightlife, leaving avenues and buzzing cafes.
Outside of the cities, Argentina’s diverse landscape offers scope for activities, including vineyard tours, rafting, skiing, hiking and of course sun-bathing along the coast.
Those of an adventurous disposition will have no trouble finding new challenges. Argentina is home to the continent’s highest peak, Aconcagua, as well as areas of desert, glacier-carved valleys, amazing waterfalls and stunning lakes.
Meanwhile, equestrian enthusiasts will know that horses and horse-riding are an essential part of the country’s national heritage and identity. Argentine-bred horses are renowned worldwide, and it’s a popular destination for horse-riding holidays - forget about the US cowboy; prepare to meet Argentina’s gauchos.
Oh, and Argentina is also a good place to study if you’re keen to learn to dance the tango, you're really into football (soccer), or if you enjoy a good steak.
Applying to university in Argentina
There are several different options when it comes to choosing a university in Argentina. The first and largest type are national universities, which receive funding from the government.
There are 40 of these, catering for the majority of undergraduate students in the country. In addition, there are around 45 private universities – which are smaller, and will charge higher fees.
Both the public and private sectors also have a number of ‘institutes’, which are differentiated from ‘universities’ by their focus on specific subject areas.
The academic year in Argentina runs from March to November. Foreign students apply directly to the educational institution they have chosen, and must show copies of school certificates. After being offered a place, students then apply for a student visa, usually valid for two years at a time.
Languages in Argentina
Although English is recognized as a business language, Spanish is the language of day-to-day life. Knowledge of Spanish, therefore, is essential and is in fact a requirement when applying for a student visa.
However, there is also a growing trend of foreigners coming to Argentina specifically to gain a Certificate of Spanish Language and Use (CELU), accredited by the Department of Education and the Foreign Affairs Department, which confirms the holder’s proficiency in the language. The exam is given twice a year at certain universities.
Living costs in Argentina
In general, Argentina offers both affordable higher education and relatively low living costs – particularly when compared to the majority of North American and European study-abroad destinations. Fees will be higher at private institutions, and may also vary depending on the course.
Foreign students are allowed to work in the country, provided they satisfy all the legal requirements, which are to obtain a work permit and to be legally granted residence in the country.
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