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What are the Top 5 universities in the Caribbean?

Imagine going to a classroom in the morning and then going to a stunning beach in the afternoon for surfing followed by a some school reading in the shade of palm trees. Well, there are a few lucky out there who do get to do this by becoming students at one of hundreds of Caribbean universities. Although most of these are small and only have a limited educational offering and facilities, there are several that can compete with many large American or European schools. The short list below focuses on these universities, which by most rankings and opinions, are considered to be the very best in the region.

1. University of Havana

Historical building in the middle of University of Havana campus
Historical building in the middle of University of Havana campus

This public university has served the population of Cuba for more than 300 years. In fact, it is one of the oldest universities in the Americas and its educational programs are highly respected well beyond the Caribbean. Located right in the center of Havana and a couple minute walk from the Malecon, this university is ideal for those foreign students who want to truly experience life in the capital of Cuba. The school offers bachelor and master degrees in a wide variety of subjects, in both, arts and sciences. It also collaborates with many universities in the Americas as well as Europe on research and student exchange programs. Finally, student tuition costs are about $30,000 per academic year, though room and board is relatively inexpensive as life in Cuba is cheaper than in the US or Europe

  • Type: Public
  • Main location: Havana, Cuba
  • Number of students: approx. 12,500
  • Percent of foreign students: 6%
  • Number of faculty: approx. 1,500

2. University of the West Indies

Three letters of the University of the West Indies at the entrance to the Kingston campus
Three letters of the University of the West Indies at the entrance to the Kingston campus

Ranked in the top 600 universities in the world, University of the West Indies is the most recognized university in all of the Caribbean. This is because besides its main location in Kingston, it also has as many as 20 satellite campuses located on most of the Caribbean islands. So called UWI Open Campus is the most organised and professional organisation of higher learning in the region. As you can imagine, there are tens of degree programs available at UWI, both undergraduate and graduate ones. Many of those who completed their studies here, went on to become some of the most well-known Caribbean leaders, scientists and artists.  

  • Type: Public
  • Main location: Kingston, Jamaica
  • Number of students: approx. 50,000
  • Percent of foreign students: 6%
  • Number of faculty: approx. 4,100

3. University of Puerto Rico

University of Puerto Rico - a bird eye view of the San Juan Campus
University of Puerto Rico – a bird eye view of the San Juan Campus

The biggest university of the Caribbean, University of Puerto Rico has almost 58 thousand students and as many as 5,300 faculty. It also has the most choices when it comes to selecting an academic program. Indeed, one can choose from almost 500 undergrad, grad and doctorate degree programs. The school has two main locations in Puerto Rico. Besides the main campus in San Juan, the second campus in Mayaguez has also plenty of first class academic facilities and resources. In addition, the university has another 9 small campuses located throughout Puerto Rico. “In terms of tuition, the cost per credit is US$55 per undergraduate credit and $117 per graduate credit.”

  • Type: Public
  • Main location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Number of students: 57,726
  • Percent of foreign students: 25% undergrad, 75% grad
  • Number of faculty: approx. 5,300

4. Inter American University

Entrance to the main building of Inter American University
Entrance to the main building of Inter American University

This large, private university traces its history back to 1912. It was founded by Dr. John William Harris, who was a Presbyterian minister and as such, the school’s curriculum was initially in line with Presbyterian teachings. Nowadays, Inter American University is an important academic institution that promotes collaboration between students and faculty of Puerto Rico and those on the mainland of the US. It offers a large variety of degrees of all levels and its many (nine) campuses are spread throughout Puerto Rico. The school is known by its short name – INTER.

  • Type: Private
  • Main location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Number of students: approx. 40,000
  • Percent of foreign students: NA
  • Number of faculty: approx. 1,500

5. Universidad Iberoamericana

Main buildings of Universidad Iberoamericana in Santo Domingo
Main buildings of Universidad Iberoamericana in Santo Domingo

Highly respected for its innovative and highly inclusive teaching approach, Universidad Iberoamericana (often called UNIBE), is the highest rated university in the Dominican Republic and closes our short list as number five university in the Caribbean. Although it is also the youngest on our list as it was only founded in 1983, it is an internationally recognized institution with 16 career programs on undergraduate and graduate levels. The university also has one of the best bilingual programs in the Caribbean, which allows students to complete their whole degrees in English as well as Spanish.

  • Type: Private
  • Main location: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • Number of students: approx. 19,000
  • Percent of foreign students: NA
  • Number of faculty: approx. 2,000

Written by Lucjan Zaborowski

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