Uruguay, officially the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, is bordered by Argentina to the west, Brazil to the northeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. Uruguay is home to approximately 3.3 million people, of whom 1.4 million live in its capital and largest city, Montevideo. Often overlooked by its large neighbors, Uruguay offers a culture, tranquility and scene completely unique to Uruguay. The country, often recognized as one of the least corrupt nations in Latin America, boasts a 97% literacy rate, and public education is secular, free, and compulsory for children from 4-14 years old. The system is divided into six levels of education; early childhood (3–5 years), primary (6–11 years), basic secondary (12–14 years), upper secondary (15–17 years), higher education (18 and up) and post-graduate education. In 2009, Uruguay implemented the One Laptop per Child program becoming the first country in the world to provide a laptop for every primary and high school student.
According to the most recent Open Doors report in the 2015-16 academic year, Uruguay reported a 6.8% increase in students studying in the U.S. Uruguay was also proud to report a 25% increase in undergraduate students attending U.S. higher education institutions, and an 11% rise in non-degree students going to the U.S. for intensive English programs, exchanges and other certificate programs and classes.
Our primary focus at the EducationUSA Advising Center in Uruguay is to increase the number of Uruguayans studying in the U.S. The most popular fields of study for Uruguayan students are business, law, medicine, psychology and engineering. Numbers have been increasing steadily and the U.S. remains a preferred study destination for Uruguayan students. At the Advising Center in Montevideo, we aim to highlight the value of a U.S. education. Each year, we conduct over 100 informational sessions, both inside and outside our offices, and reply to thousands of inquiries from students. Our Advising Center has reached out to Uruguayan students through educational fairs, school visits and advisory sessions via Skype and Facebook. We also have hosted dozens of university representatives visiting the region, and have distributed information about the U.S. as a study destination to thousands of students enrolled at local schools and universities.
The EducationUSA offices in Uruguay are in Montevideo, located in the Embassy and in the Bi-National Center called Alianza Uruguay-Estados Unidos. In a combined effort with our Bi-National Center host institution, we have utilized their network of 40+ centers around the country, and coordinated with Uruguayan educational authorities and bilingual coordinators in many communities. We also have a strong relationship with the Fulbright Commission, often collaborating during panels and events. The National Agency for Research and Innovation (ANII) signed a historical agreement with Fulbright, through which Uruguayan graduate school students receive funding to study in the U.S. At the Embassy, we include visits to schools and universities as part of our tour packages for teens and exchange programs that travel to the U.S. each year.
The EducationUSA Fair will give the university representatives the opportunity to increase awareness in Uruguay about the comparative advantages of studying at U.S. higher education institutions, while at the same time learning about Uruguayan programs, heritage and traditions. Whenever needed, our advising center will also follow up on implementing memorandums of understanding with local schools to initiate school exchanges.
In 2016, we were honored to launch the Opportunity Funds program for the first time in Uruguay. The Opportunity Funds program helps lower-income high school students with a high English level and extraordinary grades by covering the costs of standardized tests, translations, settling-in allowance, and travel costs.