School and Education in South America

Study opportunities in South America

Do you want to convince yourself of the beauty of the contrasting continent? Then it could be an interesting option for you to study at one of the numerous universities in South America. Based on statistics by Countryaah, the university landscape in South America is as diverse as the landscapes in South America.

South American university systems in comparison

Probably the most renowned university system can be found in Argentina, the country of the gauchos. The universities there enjoy a good reputation in South America and internationally. Countries such as Chile and Ecuador have also carried out extensive reforms in the field of education in recent years and have aligned their study system with international standards.

In contrast, there is a steep gradient in Brazil. On the one hand are the numerous, rather mediocre private universities. On the other side are the top state universities, whose quality is comparable to that of German universities.

Countries Number of students per teacher in primary school Proportion of children starting primary school (per cent)
Argentina 17 (2008) 99.0 (2016)
Bolivia 19 (2017) 91.9 (2017)
Brazil 20 (2016) 95.5 (2016)
Chile 18 (2015) 94.8 (2017)
Colombia 24 (2017) 91.3 (2017)
Ecuador 25 (2017) 91.3 (2016)
Guyana 23 (2012) 91.5 (2012)
Paraguay 24 (2012) 88.5 (2012)
Peru 18 (2017) 95.4 (2017)
Suriname 15 (2017) 90.2 (2017)
Uruguay 11 (2016) 98.0 (2016)
Venezuela 26 (1987) 84.0 (2017)


Semester abroad as the most popular form of study

Semester programs at universities enable students to study in South America for one or two semesters. A semester abroad in South America is the most common type of stay abroad among international students. There are multiple reasons for this:

  • Free choice of course: Students enjoy the greatest possible freedom when compiling their course plan. You can take courses from a wide range of disciplines.
  • Good chances of recognition: The study achievements in South America are mostly recognized in Germany – and after consultation with the home university.
  • Improving your language skills: A semester abroad in South America is a great way to improve your language skills. Those interested in the Portuguese language are in good hands in Brazil. Spanish is the official language in almost all other countries. Those who do not have sufficient language skills at the start of their studies have the opportunity at many universities to take part in a university language course before starting their studies.
  • Opportunity for financial support: Students who spend one or two semesters abroad in South America can be funded by BAföG abroad. The DAAD also offers numerous region-specific funding programs for Latin America – an interesting option for students who are drawn to Nicaragua, for example. And even those who finance their studies in Germany with a student loan can usually easily have subsidies for one or two semesters abroad.


Due to the large extent of South America in the north-south direction, the climate varies greatly. However, more than half of the continent has a tropical climate, as a result of having its greatest width along the equator and just south of it. Among factors such as affecting the South American climatic conditions is the special relief, especially the Andes high and long mountain range in the west. Apart from the temperature drop in the higher levels of the Andes, the air of the humid west winds emit most of its humidity in the form of orographic rainfall (ie rainfall caused by the shape of the earth’s surface, for example contiguous terrain). To the east of the mountain range, rain shadow is formed with a dry climate as a result. Cold ocean currents flowing north, especially the Humboldt stream in the eastern Pacific Ocean, it also cools the air, causing one of the driest climates on earth – in the Atacama Desert – to rise along the coast of Chile. For the rainfall distribution f.o. In South America, the subtropical high-pressure cells on either side of the equator play an important role. They give rise to the pass winds, which hit the continent’s east side with rainy season for part of the year as a result. This results in the humid, tropical savannah climate that has the largest spread of the different climates in South America. In the mid-latitudes, the west wind dominates, and the west winds that hit southern parts of Chile give rise to the large rainfall that falls here.

Tropical climates occur throughout the northern, broad part of South America. Tropical rainforest climates are more prevalent here than on any other continent. They cover the entire Amazon basin, continue along the Atlantic coast to the south and north, and can also be found along Colombia’s Pacific coast. The average daily temperature is around 30 °C with annual and monthly variations less than 3 °C. Precipitation falls steadily throughout the year and amounts to 2,770 mm in southern Brazil (Belém) and in Iquitos in Peru to 1,770 mm. In the Chocó region of Colombia, about 10,000 mm per year falls. The tropical climate’s humid variant, the savannah climate, has an average temperature of more than 18 °C during all months. However, the average daily temperatures vary considerably, or from 18 °C to 35 °C. There is a clear dry time during the year and the rainfall amounts to between 900 mm and 1 600 mm per year. This climate covers the entire Orinoco basin, the highlands of Brazil and the western part of Ecuador.