Day 2: Lectures at Austral

Today was our first full day in Argentina and it was very busy but also fun.  We listened to three lectures at the Pilar campus of Austral University, which is about an hour drive from downtown Buenos Aires.  After that, we did a bus tour of the city which was really cool because we were able to see a ton of different neighborhoods, each with their own style.

Our first lecture of the day focused on Austral University.  The Pilar campus is the main campus of the university, but there is also a campus in Rosario and a small campus in Buenos Aires.  Although it is a university that offers many similar programs as Pitt, there were many differences between Austral and our school.

Austral is a private university and has about 6,000 students total (undergrad and graduate).  It is also very young, as it is only about 40 years old.  The main competitor of Austral is the University of Buenos Aires, which has about 400,000 students and is a public university.  The reason why the University of Buenos Aires has so many students is because public universities in Argentina are free.  This means that Austral has to be able to offer a higher quality education in order to get students to pay to come to their university.  Pitt, on the other hand, is a public university with 35,000 students total.  It is also much older than Austral, with a founding date in the late 1700s.  The general layout of the universities is relatively similar, but Pitt’s is just on a much larger scale.

Other similarities between Austral and Pitt include the types of programs offered, and the fact that there is a hospital affiliated with each university.  Austral and Pitt both have programs such as nursing, engineering, business, and psychology.  There are separate parts of campus for each different type of program at Austral, and Pitt’s campus is the same way.  The UPMC system used to be directly associated with the University of Pittsburgh but became a separate company financially because the two parts of the school were becoming imbalanced, with UPMC overpowering the university itself.  Austral is beginning to face this same problem, so they may split into a separate hospital and university in the future.

Because the US is more developed than Argentina, it makes sense that there are a larger number of universities such as Pitt that have high enrollments and many different programs to offer students.  Austral is a very new university, which is reflected in their fewer programs and small campus.  They do, however, have big plans for the future when it comes to expanding their university, both with physical buildings and more academic programs.

Check back tomorrow to read about our mixer with some students at Austral!

*Picture shows Andy on the bus tour…poor guy was a little chilly & tired.

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