When you think of Peru, the first thing that probably comes to mind is Macchu Picchu, the legendary Inca ruined city high up in the Andes. And in fact Peru is considered the cradle of the Inca culture, whose great influence is still visible in many parts of the country today. Other early high cultures such as the Nazca, the Moche and the Tiahuanaco also left their mark on Peru.
However, Peru offers much more than a legendary history. The Andes aren’t the only breathtaking scenery in the country. In fact, there are three very different climates in Peru. The land on the Pacific coast is very dry and, especially in the south, it is desert-like in many places. The coastal region is followed by the high, snow-covered mountain ranges of the Andes, which are followed by the rainforests of the Amazon basin.
According to top-engineering-schools, the country’s national parks and reserves are among the most biodiverse in the world – nowhere are there more bird species than in Peru. Condors, flamingos and even penguins have their home here. Due to its central location in South America, Peru is also an ideal starting point for visiting other countries such as Ecuador, Bolivia or Brazil. If you are in Peru to study, you can discover a lot.
In Peru, the Universidad Nacional de San Marcos in Lima, America’s oldest university, was founded in 1551. There are now over 70 universities in the country. Half of them are state universities, the other half are privately owned institutions. Most of them are located in Peru’s capital, Lima.
The individual universities differ significantly in their courses of study: some have a wide range of subjects, while others specialize in certain fields of study, such as technical universities, teachers’ colleges and theological seminars.
There are about 810,000 students among the 30 million Peruvians. Only wealthy local and international applicants can afford to study at private universities in Peru. The state universities, the Universidades Nacionales, usually charge lower tuition fees and the student body is more diverse here.
Unfortunately, Peru has a high poverty rate, especially in rural areas and urban fringes. Many locals cannot afford a university education. In the past, due to the educational situation and government austerity measures, there were repeated student protests that temporarily paralyzed university operations.
Perhaps in response to the protests, the Peruvian government recently set up a state evaluation system for the accreditation of universities and their programs: the Sistema Nacional de Calidad, Evaluación y Certificación (SINEACE). The fact that this institution is still young is shown by the still very different quality of study at the individual universities – regardless of whether they are state or private institutions.
Study system in Peru
Peru’s academic year runs from April to December and is usually divided into two semesters. The students take lectures, courses, exercises and tutorials. Germans are not used to the fact that the lessons are sometimes three hours. Lessons are almost always in Spanish. Only a few private universities offer courses in English. In some cases there are bilingual courses.
The study achievements are assessed using a credit point system. There is currently no equivalence agreement between Peru and Germany. German semester students in particular can usually have their work done in Peru recognized in Germany after prior agreement with their home university.
Due to the long colonial period, Peru’s system of studies is heavily influenced by the. It is roughly divided into two sections:
- Bachiller or Titulo Profesional
The undergraduate courses are part of the Bachiller. They consist of a two-year basic course and a two- to four-year main course. After the initial teaching of a general and propaedeutic part, there is then a technical specialization. The Bachiller degree is roughly equivalent to a German Bachelor’s degree. In some subjects such as law, engineering or medicine, the job-specific title Titulo Profesional is awarded.
After completing the Bachiller, many students follow specialist training to become a Licenciado. This course usually lasts another year and ends with the submission of a major written thesis. The overall course from Bachiller and Licenciado corresponds roughly to the value of a German diploma.
If you want to deepen your previous academic knowledge scientifically, you can enroll in a Magister / Maestria course after completing the Licendiado (less often also after the Bachiller). This roughly corresponds to a German master’s degree. The study period is at least two years and concludes with a written paper based on independent research.
Anyone who has discovered their passion for research in this context can consider a doctorate. Here, too, the minimum duration of study is four semesters. Finally, the doctoral students must verbally defend the thesis of their extensive doctoral thesis. In the medical subjects and law, the Doctor directly follows the Titulo Profesional and takes three to five years of study to complete.
Another variant after the first degree, i.e. the Bachiller or Licendiado, offers a degree in Espescialista. It is used for professional and practice-oriented training and is also part of the postgraduate area. The course usually lasts one to two years. It is not necessary to write a written thesis here.
Requirements for studying in Peru
Young Peruvians go through a one to two year preparatory phase after graduating from school and before being admitted to one of the local universities. However, this does not apply to international applicants. For German applicants, the general university entrance qualification is usually sufficient to apply for a Bachiller degree program. In addition, there is usually an admission test (Examen de Ingreso).
With a postgraduate -Studies the requirements vary. Anyone applying for a Maestria / Magister degree must be fluent in at least one foreign language. If you are admitted as a doctoral candidate, the number increases to two foreign languages. In any case, you should inform yourself in good time about the admission criteria of the respective Peruvian university!
It makes sense for foreign students to have sufficient knowledge of Spanish. This is the only way to participate in university life and study successfully. However, a formal language certificate is not always one of the admission requirements. Some universities also offer preparatory courses or language courses for the other two (indigenous) official languages, Quechua and Aymara.
Study abroad in Peru: costs and financing
Studying in Peru is usually paid for. The amount of the tuition fees is not regulated uniformly, but is determined by each university itself. The range of fees is between EUR 500 and EUR 3,000 per semester. Studying at private universities is usually more expensive than at state universities.
The cost of living in Peru is comparatively low, so it is possible to get by on less money than in Germany. As is so often the case, however, the actual costs depend heavily on your own needs and the willingness to let yourself go to the customary standard of living in the country. If you study in Lima, Cusco or another larger city, you should plan around EUR 400 to EUR 500 per month for accommodation, meals and everyday leisure activities. Larger trips and excursions, for example to Lake Titicaca or Macchu Picchu, are not yet included here.
If you only want to go to a Peruvian university for one or two semesters abroad as part of your German studies, you can apply for BAföG abroad for this stay. In addition to subsidies for travel and living expenses, the BAföG office also pays tuition fees of up to EUR 4,600 for a maximum of one academic year. Because the assessment limits for the foreign BAföG are higher than for the domestic BAföG, the application is also worthwhile for those who do not receive a domestic BAföG. Other ways of financing a degree in Peru are scholarships, such as those awarded by the DAAD and various foundations, or student loans.
Visa and entry into Peru
Due to a new law, Peruvian consulates are no longer issuing student visas. However, there are several alternatives. The university can have the student visa processed through the Immigration Office of the Ministry of the Interior (DIGEMIN). Or you can first travel in on a tourist visa and then have it converted into a student visa on site. Usually you have to show sufficient financial means for the study time in Peru to apply for a visa. For the duration of the study visit, it is also useful to take out a separate foreign health insurance for Peru.