For most of the day today, we spent our time at the Universidad Austral campus in Pilar. We started off the day with lectures from a few reputable faculty from Austral, in which they gave us some of the background and goals of Universidad Austral, as well as the hospital that is on the campus. After that, we grabbed lunch and were able to take a brief walking tour of the campus. It is fall here, so the landscape of the campus was beautiful, with the leaves on the trees turning into the colors of autumn. Lastly, we ended our time at Austral with a guest speaker, who talked about the innovation that Austral is implementing to make themselves more efficient within the healthcare industry.
Universidad Austral is the most renowned private university in Argentina, and one of the best overall universities – public or private – in all of Latin America. However, the university system in Argentina is much more complicated in Argentina than it is in the United States, especially in regard to private universities. Like the United States, private universities are not government-funded, so it is difficult – especially in an economy like Argentina’s – to get the funds to build and maintain a university. As of right now, only about half of the entire university campus is filled with buildings due to this inability to acquire sufficient funding on a steady basis. One of the major differences is the difficulty for private universities to compete with public universities in Argentina. In the United States, it is just as easy to recruit students to private universities as it is to recruit to public universities, because they all generally provide the same basic functions with differing tuition costs and admission requirements, allowing many different options depending on the students liking. This is much different in Argentina, because public universities have free tuition and free admission, meaning standardized test scores do not matter in order to be admitted into the university. Because of this, many Argentine students attend public universities, as it is not a financial burden on their families. As a private university, Austral has to stand out in order to influence students to attend their university for a cost rather than a free public university. They do this by ensuring they have highly qualified faculty and academics that are not as prominent within public universities, yet it is still hard to reach a large population of students willing to pay money for education when they can go elsewhere for free. Only 6,000 students attend Austral whereas about 400,000 students attend the University of Buenos Aires, which is a public institution. Another difference that stood out to me was the fact that only a small percentage of the professors at the university teach full time. Compared with professors in the United States who practically all teach full time, this was a very shocking statistic to me.
However, there are also similarities between the universities. For example, they have many different programs that they offer in their three main schools on campus, including nursing, business, law and engineering to name a few. Additionally, they have a partnership with a private hospital on campus and many of their students within the nursing and biomedical science field end up working here after graduating, similar to UPMC at Pitt. It was very interesting to learn about Universidad Austral and what they are planning to do with the University moving forward.
We are heading back to Austral tomorrow, and I am excited to see what is in store for us this time.