Central America is a vast region made up of eight different countries, each with something different to offer prospective study abroad students. Each of these countries have well-established study abroad programs and local universities, with additional opportunities and resources available, in the way of community involvement, extracurricular adventures, and weekend expeditions.
Panama. Studying abroad in Panama is about as affordable as it gets. The cost of living is low, and public universities are free for everyone, including international students. With almost 90 higher education institutions, lush rainforests, and of course, those that famous canal, Panama is an excellent place for environmentally-minded students, as well as individuals with an interest in architecture, business, and urban and regional planning.
Costa Rica. Home to one of the largest and most diverse ecosystems in the world, Costa Rica is an attraction for any student interested in wildlife or environmental science. The dramatic landscapes vary, from the high cloud forests to the Caribbean coasts, making this coastal nugget an ideal place to spend a semester or summer studying abroad.
El Salvador. The smallest of the Central American countries, El Salvador packs quite a punch with its mountainous terrain, rich history, and notoriously friendly culture. Despite its rocky political past, El Salvador remains an excellent non-traditional place for study abroad in Central America, especially those interested in studying Spanish, social work, human rights, or tourism.
Belize. Known for its beaches, scuba-diving, Mayan temples, and tropical reefs, Belize is the perfect place to study abroad in Central America for those who love outdoor adventures. Located in the heart of Central America, it is a diverse nation, culturally made up of Creole, East Indian, Garifuna, Chinese, and many more groups of people. Study abroad programs in Belize are especially common in the fields of ecology, marine biology, sustainable development, medicine, and other health related professions.
Honduras. With a recently stabilized political scene and an expanding tourism industry, there has never been a better time to study abroad in Honduras. Students looking to hone their skills in the Spanish language should especially look no further than this beautiful, tropical country. Just make sure you go during the dry season!
Why Central America
The world knows it; people from the Central American region have big talent. Most of the time, however, that talent is wasted by the lack of opportunities. – At least that’s what people say.
The truth is that there are many opportunities to be successful in the professional career that you choose, and you may find several options such as studying online or applying for a scholarship in your country or abroad.
No matter where you live, your age, or your culture, you have something to offer to the world.
If you currently live in the Central American region or you are interested on getting some educational, professional, and life experiences in this area, applying to get a university degree may bring high value to your life development.
By saying this, it doesn’t mean that a university degree is the key to show the world your talent. However, studying at a university may make everything easier.
In Central America, there are thousands of universities that can help you growth professionally and personally, so I can understand the stress of choosing the right university for you.
Right now, you may be thinking that the best universities will be found in Europe or the United States, and that is true.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that you can’t study in the Central American region.
Cost of Living & Studying
Compared to the more affluent regions of the world, the cost of living in Central American nations is relatively low. Depending on which country you are looking to study in, one could expect to easily spend less than $900 USD per month (not including educational costs). Of course, this figure can vary based on how much you intend to travel or go out for meals or entertainment. If need be, it can be quite easy to live on a tight budget in Central America.
Courses and Universities
Every year, the Philippines welcome thousands of foreign students wishing to pursue their higher studies in English. Based on statistics, more than 8,000 foreign students have enrolled for the 2015 ‘ 2016 academic year. Note that the country has the whole of Asia’s best higher education system with 40% of faculty staff having a Masters and 13% a PhD.
Moreover, registration and course fees are lower than in many countries. You are advised to inquire about these fees with the university you have chosen since it depends on the number of units you will take.
A lot of universities are concentrated in what they call the ‘University Belt’ in Quezon City. Based on a 2018 ranking by uniRank, the top 5 universities in the Philippines are located in the greater Manila area:
- University of the Philippines Diliman (UP Diliman)
- University of Santo Tomas (UST)
- Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU)
- De La Salle University (DLSU)
- Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP)
- University of the Philippines Manila (UP Manila)
- University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB)
- Mapua Institute of Technology
- University of San Carlos
- Universidad de Zamboanga
Eligibility Test Requirements
- English Proficiency Test – may be required for some top institutes
- National Medical Admission Test result (photocopies which will be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy) if opting for PG
- PRC Board Rating Certificate if exam has been given
Admission and Application Procedure
There are 2 intakes – July and November. The academic year constitutes two semesters – one from June/ July to October/ November and the other from November/December to March/ April. The deadlines are usually around the end of February. So before February you will need to prepare your application forms and documents so that once your results are declared you can send applications to the universities. The documents are a little tedious as some need to be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy at Nariman Point in Mumbai.
Documents needed to apply for a Philippines Student Visa:
- Student Visa (9F)
- Alien Certificate of Registration/ICard (ARC-IC) issued by the Bureau of Immigration & Deportation
- Personal History Statement (PHS) with original photos and signature
- Certified copy of Passport pages where name, photo, birthdate and birthplace appear
- Notarized proof of adequate financial support (Bank Statement) of sponsoring party
- Transcript of Records and Certificate of Graduation should be duly authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate in the applicant’s country of origin or legal residence
- Notice of Acceptance
Some also require your authenticated birth certificate, TOEFL/IELTS results for applicants in non-English speaking countries or a personal statement or a letter of motivation for pursuing further studies. Once you have been given a Notice of Admission by the school, you can proceed further once your application has been approved by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Immigration and Deportation Bureau (IDB) and by the Department of Foreign Affairs at the Philippines embassy or consulate in your home country. You should then be able to apply for a visa. Refer to this article for a comprehensive guide to visas in the Philippines. Note that student visas are only granted to those who wish to take up higher education (aka higher than high school) with schools accredited by CHED.