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Students prefer traditional universities: Poll indicates string preference for U Chile and La Catolica

ChilNet extracts from El Mercurio, La Epoca
17 January 1997

The University of Chile and Catholic University continue to lead the list of preferences for college-bound students, a poll released Wednesday indicates.

Despite the recent proliferation of private universities, Chile's students believe the country's traditional institutions of higher learning offer the greatest opportunities for high quality education, Market Opinion Research International (MORI) found.

Between November 28 and December 11, 1996, MORI associates polled persons 18 years or older in Chilean cities of more than 40,000 inhabitants. The survey is considered representative of 67 percent of the national population and its margin of error is estimated at 2.8 percent.

When asked what Chilean university offers the greatest opportunities for success, 34 percent mentioned Catholic University, and 29 percent the University of Chile. The Universities of Santiago and Concepcion, where many middle class students attend college, were the choices of 4 percent.

Among lower income groups, however, 19 percent did not know what was the best university.

According to survey results, the high regard for quality of education at Catholic University is shared by all socio-economic groups. Eduardo Echeverria, La Catolica's public relations officer, says the poll results dispell the myth of Catholic University as an elitist school. "Any student with a good college entrance exam (PAA) score can get in, regardless of socio-economic background," he says.

The esteem with which the University of Chile is held, however, appears to increase with the level of education of the person polled. Of professionals with college degrees, 38 percent believe the U Chile is the best, as do 39 percent of respondents between 26 and 40 years old. MORI director Marta Lagos says this may be a reflection of the past prestige of this state university among those who studied there during its better times.

Chancellor Eduardo Morales of the University of Santiago, on the other hand, said the low polling preference for the USACH does not reflect its "broad academic, research, and extension opportunities."

Medicine, computer sciences, law and civil engineering are the careers that hold most promise, according to young people who participated in the survey. Following close behind are other engineering fields, architecture, and business administration.

Marta Lagos said that private universities are still too new to gain confidence from Chileans. Outside of Santiago's upper class neighborhoods, no respondent mentioned them as colleges of choice. *

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