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Mexico may have the reputation of a retirement destination, but it is among the best in Latin America for academic purposes. Believe it or not, getting admission to a Mexican institute is one of the best ways to get permanent residency. People who wish to stay in Mexico for a more extended period and are willing to learn Spanish happily follow their academic journeys into Mexico.
Higher education in Mexico follows the same pattern as that of the US and Europe. A Bachelor’s degree is four years, a master’s takes two years, and a Ph.D. is three years. The universities follow the same semester system with grading that may vary among each institute. Overall, the Mexican education system ranks among the best in the QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings. 63 Mexican universities were featured in the QS Latin America University Rankings of 2019, coming second to Brazil[i].
Mexico has seen a staggering increase in the number of international students in the past couple of decades. The stats went up from 2 million to more than 4 million. Around 30,000 students enroll in Mexican universities every year. Those who cannot travel choose to study from a remote location.
As mentioned earlier, Mexico is an amazingly laid-back country, easily seen from the country’s residence requirements and visa policy. While English is becoming increasingly popular in Mexico, Spanish remains the most spoken language. For people who wish to study in Mexico, it would be good to learn Spanish beforehand. This practice is because some courses are taught strictly in Spanish only. You can learn enough Spanish from your own country or take admission in one of the learning centers in Mexico.
Student Life in Mexico
Living as a student in Mexico is no different than in other countries. Other countries may offer foster homes for international students or separate dormitories, but you’ll have to arrange everything yourself in Mexico. The rest fits into place as the days pass.
The academics vary for each program. Usually, the first two semesters are challenging for everyone unless you have previously studied in a school of the same level. These two semesters are for the university to sort out students who seem incapable of following up with others. The best institutes give a bit of a tough time during the early semesters to evaluate themselves if they are suitable for the degree they have chosen.
From the third semester, the student’s life becomes somewhat relaxed. By then, some students would have opted out of the course, but many would have bravely stood their ground. The timetable for each course varies greatly. A science subject may have theoretical lectures and lab work, while art courses may only have lecture-based classes. The number of classes per week also varies, but it is usually not that hectic after the third semester.
Partying is an integral part of Mexican culture. As a student, you will notice that students start their weekend as soon as Thursday arrives. They call Thursday “little Friday.” It shouldn’t be a surprise. Living in Mexico is inexpensive. It costs $1.50 for a beer bottle, while the local pulque drink costs $3.00 for a pitcher[ii].
When we say party, we do not mean drinking until you drop. Some days, students gather around and have a dance session. Other days, they prefer going out to different spots to spend time with friends. Moreover, student discounts are available at a lot of places like museums and theaters.
Below are the top five universities of Mexico that provide quality education to local and international students alike:
1. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)
World Ranking: 105th
Location: Ciudad Universitaria, Mexico City
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico is the number one university of the country. It has achieved a perfect score for four indicators of QS World Ranking, including academics and employer reputations. This institute is a dream among locals, and international students also try to take admission in it. More than 36,000 students are currently studying in various fields of which, around five thousand are international students[iii].
UNESCO recognizes the main campus in Mexico City as part of World Heritage due to its portrayal of Mexican culture through art and architecture. UNAM students hold positions in art and design, modern languages, mining engineering, law, and many more[iv].
2. Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM)
World Ranking: 161st
Location: Monterrey, Mexico
The ITESM is a top-ranking private university in Mexico. It is considered an excellent institute when it comes to research. It scores in the top five for six out of eight criteria of research impact. There are about four thousand international students in ITESM, which shows just how in-demand this university is. The research output is exceptionally high, owing to the highly qualified faculty that works there. ITESM has 31 campuses in 25 cities of Mexico.
3. Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN)
World Ranking: 751-800
Location: Mexico City
The third most famous university of Mexico, IPN holds an honorable place among Mexican people. It is known for its research facilities across 22 states of Mexico. The main campus has more than 171,000 students. Although this institute is ranked high in Mexico, there are fewer international students compared to other universities.
The IPN takes pride in publishing the second-highest scores in Mexico for papers per faculty. Students appreciate the school for its curriculum in engineering, technology, and life sciences.
4. Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM)
World Ranking: 801-1000
Location: Mexico City
UAM is a public university that ranked fourth in Mexico’s Independent Rankings. It was the first institute in Mexico that offered an undergraduate degree in Environmental Engineering in 1974. It may not be a well-known university worldwide, but it appeared in QS World University Rankings by Subject in 2018 for six subjects, including art and design, among the global top 100.
5. Universidad Iberoamericana (UIA)
World Ranking: 701-750
Location: Mexico City
With more than 11,000 students enrolled in the institute, the UIA is one of the best Mexican universities for research purposes. It is also one of the only eight universities that belong to a Society of Jesus – a Jesuit University. It offers 34 undergraduate programs and 39 graduate programs. In addition to these programs, it also conducts diploma courses in various fields, including languages and technical courses. The UIA holds fourth place in Mexico, ranking for the category of employee reputation.
[i] “Mexico Universities for international students.” Retrieved from https://www.rocapply.com/study-in-mexico/
[ii] “Student Life in Mexico.” Retrieved from https://www.rocapply.com/study-in-mexico/about-mexico/student-life-in-mexico.html
[iii] “UNAM IN NUMBERS.” Retrieved from http://www.estadistica.unam.mx/numeralia/
[iv] “Top 10 Universities of Mexico.” Retrieved from https://www.topuniversities.com/where-to-study/latin-america/top-10-universities-mexico-2019