Latin America and Russia, a big sea of opportunities ahead
International Education and the opportunities to study abroad and/or to get an international certification is a reality and a field that is growing fast, and nothing, even the pandemic, can stop. All over the world, we can find students eager to study abroad options, better living conditions, improve their future, and Latin America (LATAM) is not the exception.

LATAM, a region where the economic and social situation is in one of the worse scenarios (maybe because of the Covid-19 or maybe because its history, leaders or governments are not the best to face the plight) is still full of opportunities and open to Institutions looking for partners, students and great people who want to study abroad or get international certification. Yes, LATAM, with 20 countries and 14 dependent territories and a population of more than 652 million (as of March 2020), is a Region rich in tourism, natural resources, culture, art, world heritage sites, among many other things, but in other side faces issues like migration, crime & violence, inequality and a lack of quality in education for everybody.

So, if we focus on the 4 most important LATAM Countries in terms of economy, development, and potential market to study abroad, we have: Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and Chile. To have the big picture, I present some relevant facts about these Countries:
  • The international education market in Brazil is one of the largest in the world.
  • Currently, this market has around 5,425 study abroad Agencies (2019), apart from universities and institutes that conduct courses combined with institutions abroad.
  • Only 14% (approximately 30 million people) of the Brazilian population achieve a Higher Education level (OECD, 2018), but in a country with more than 210 million people, there is a great possibility ahead.
  • Only 5% of the Brazilians speak English (British Council).
  • In Mexico, the Government offers some Scholarships to study abroad, although with the new President, things have changed a lot, but with millions of young people, the demand is there.
  • Some private Unis and High Schools in Mexico are more expensive than similar Institutions abroad, so there is a niche in a good economic position and ready to spend on abroad studies.
  • In Chile, students can choose between 16 public universities and 43 privates.
  • "Agencia Chilena de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo" is the Government foundation to offer Scholarships abroad.
  • All universities, institutes and technical schools in Chile charge enrolment and tuition costs.
  • Chileans are among the most politicized in LATAM.
  • Colombians are used to study abroad at every level. They base their decision making on brand reputation.
  • In Colombia some of the most important High Schools and Universities are private.
Pathways are very popular, and the biggest opportunity in the Colombian market lies in growing the high school sector and postgraduate recruitment.
According to the World Bank data, more than 20 million university students in LATAM are trained in the more than 10,000 higher-level institutions in the region, whose academic offerings exceed 60,000 training programs. This enrolment figure has expanded dramatically in the last 15 years, where enrolment has gone from 21% of young people of study age, to 43% now. However, the dropout rate is high.
Laura P. Aguirre Beltrán
Co-founder, Inspire NOW Educational Consultancy
But what are the main motivations for Latino students to seek international education?
  • Quality in Education
  • International Recognition
  • Tourism / Live abroad
  • Curriculum enhancement
  • Escape from the Crisis and/or Violence
  • Programs not offered in country
There are a few other factors that lead Latinos to seek international education, although the searching channels are limited. Most students try to find information within their own universities or with study abroad agencies. In addition, they do spend a good time Googling information from social media, websites, etc.

So, it is easy to see that LATAM is a very important Region in terms of International Education, more now with actual political issues and with many people looking for options to live/study abroad. Also, an important growing middle class is emerging. In the past, most students were interested in English language courses, now people are looking for other options, and Vocational & H.E. are becoming more popular. On the other hand, educational agents know and understand more H.E. & Foundation studies, but still confuse students, so Agents or local Representatives are still necessary to get good numbers. And something very important, LATAM is a very price-sensitive market, and students are always looking for Scholarships.

With this LATAM scenario and considering the Latino students' profile, it is where the Country of Russia appears as another and a new great option for Latinos. Russia, that distant, giant, foreign country and of which not much is known in LATAM, can be an opportunity for those thousands of Latinos looking for something else, cheaper options and great experiences abroad.

In fact, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Russia is the most educated country in the world, leaving behind, in terms of this index to Canada, Japan, Israel and the USA. More than half of Russians have higher education. Every year more than 270,000 people from 168 countries around the world come to study at Russian universities.
Here my Top 10 points about why Russia is an excellent option for LATAM
  1. Great quality in Education.
  2. Offers the most popular Degrees that Latinos look for, including Medicine.
  3. Many different forms of funding, grants, and scholarships.
  4. There are over 740 universities of higher education.
  5. There are many Online Courses available with important Certifications.
  6. Cheaper than many of the popular student destinations.
  7. You can study and work during your studies.
  8. Cost of living expenses is much affordable than other popular Countries.
  9. Known for its strong scientific schools in the field of Physics, Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
  10. With 10th Universities on the QS BRICS University Rankings, 2019.
Let's open our minds and think big, let's look beyond the routine and common and see other destinations, other ways to expand the international education for our Latino students.
Laura P. Aguirre Beltrán
Co-founder, Inspire NOW Educational Consultancy
Author: Laura P. Aguirre Beltrán, Co-founder, Inspire NOW Educational Consultancy.