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University of Chile

The University of Chile is the largest and oldest institution of higher education in Chile and one of the oldest in the Americas. Founded in 1842 as the replacement and continuation of the former colonial university Real Universidad de San Felipe (1738). The university is often called Casa de Bello (House of Bello) in honour of its first president, Andres Bello. Notable alumni of University of Chile include two Nobel Laureates (Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral) and twenty heads of state among many others.



Higher education in Chile in colonial times dates back to 1622, when on 19 August of that year, the first university in Chile, Santo Tomas de Aquino, was founded. On 28 July 1738, its name changed to Real Universidad de San Felipe, in honour of King Philip V of Spain.

Universidad de Chile

In 1841 the minister of public education, Manuel Montt, conceived the idea of funding a corporation for the "advancement and development of sciences and humanities". Andres Bello formulated the project which with small modifications became a law on 19 November 1842, creating the Universidad de Chile.

The Universidad de Chile was formally opened on 17 September 1843. During this period, the university consisted of five faculties (facultades): Humanities & Philosophy, Mathematical Sciences & Physics, Law & Political Sciences, Medicine, and Theology. By 1931, the number of colleges had increased to six: Philosophy & Education Sciences, Legal & Social Sciences, Biology & Medical Sciences, Physical & Mathematical Sciences, Agronomy & Veterinary, and Fine Arts.

Almost all of Chile's presidents graduated from the University of Chile, including all of those in the 20th century with the exception of Eduardo Frei Montalva (Pontifical Catholic University of Chile), General Carlos Ibanez del Campo and former military dictator General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte.

Major Reforms during Military Regime of 1973-1989

During Augusto Pinochet's military regime from 1973 to 1989, the University suffered many profound changes. On 2 October 1973, Decree number 50 stated that the University's Presidents would be designated by the Military Regime.

The second major blow to the University's integrity came on 3 January 1981, when another Decree completely restructured the University. All of its provincial campuses were separated, cojoined with provincial campuses of the Universidad Tecnica del Estado (now Universidad de Santiago de Chile and Universidad de Atacama) and designated as separate universities, such as the Universidad de Talca, Universidad de Valparaiso, the Instituto Pedagogico , the Universidad de Antofagasta, the Universidad de Tarapaca, Instituto Professional de Osorno (now Universidad de los Lagos), Instituto Professional de Chillan (now Universidad del Bio-Bio), Universidad de la Frontera, and Universidad de la Serena.

These changes were orchestrated by influential advisors to the military government, as a way to severely diminish the University's influence on the nation's politics, economics, public policies and intellectual movements. Simultaneous to this process, the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile was heavily supported so that it would grow to a size comparable to the University of Chile. In concrete terms, in 1973 the University of Chile had a record number of students enrolled: over 65,000 students. Today it has only 26,000 students. In contrast, the Catholic University of Chile has grown from approximately 15,000 students in 1973 to over 21,650. Several private Universities were created towards the end of the military regime, and some of these institutions have shown tendencies towards neoliberal economics. In this way the Chicago Boys have been able to perpetuate their influences on Chilean economics and public policies through higher education.

In spite of the complete restructuring of the University of Chile, it still remains as one of Chile's most prestigious university in terms of research, applicant preferences and social impact.

Colleges and campuses

The University has 16 faculties distributed in 13 campuses:

Casa Central: Headquarters. Main administrative services.

Campus Antumapu: Located in southern Santiago, holds the Faculty of Agronomic Sciences, the Faculty of Forestry Sciences and the Faculty of Veterinary and Bovine Sciences.

Campus Andres Bello: Located in Downtown Santiago, holds the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism and the Faculty of Economic and Business.

Campus Juan Gomez Millas: Located in the Nunoa district of Santiago, holds the Bachelor Program, the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Philosophy & Humanities, the Faculty of Social Sciences, the School of Journalism and the recently refounded Film School.

Campus Downtown: Holds the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Theatre and the School of Government

Campus Medicine (North): Holds the University's Clinic Hospital, the Faculty of Chemical & Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine.

Campus Medicine (South): Site of the Exequiel Gonzalez Cortes Hospital.

Campus Medicine (East): Holds the Mental Health Unit.

Campus Medicine (Center): Holds the San Borja-Arriaran Clinic Hospital.

Campus Medicine (West): Holds part of the Faculty of Medicine.

Campus Miraflores: Holds the Faculty of Dentistry.

Campus Pio Nono: Holds the Faculty of Law.

Campus Beauchef: Holds the Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and the School of Engineering.

Related institutions and services

The University of Chile is in charge of a variety of nationwide services and institutions, including:

The National Astronomical Observatory, functioning since 1852

The Chilean Commission on Nuclear Energy (CCHEN)

The Contemporary Art Museum (MAC)

Investigative efforts in Antarctica, since 1940

Official seismological service and volcanic activity vigilance, since 1908

Chile's Symphonic Orchestra, since 1941

Chile's National Ballet, since 1945

Symphonic Chorus, since 1945

Centre for Greek, Byzantine, and Neohellenic Studies; Centre for Arabic Studies; and Center for Judaic Culture Studies

Largest Clinical Hospital in the country

Institute for Easter Island Studies

Center for Mathematical Modeling (CMM)

Centre for Space-related Studies, with collaborative activities at NASA, and other international agencies

Universidad de Chile Theatre

Institute of Public Affairs (INAP)

Nutrition and Food Technology Institute (INTA)

Museum of Popular American Art, since 1947

Experimental Theatre (1944) (later National Theatre of Chile)

Chile's NIC.

The Institute for Experimentation and Research of Materials, IDIEM.

And more than twenty other centres of national and international importance.

See also

Notable alumni of the University of Chile


A brief history of the University of Chile (in Spanish) Resena Historica de la Universidad de Chile

Information on the University of Chile's research (in Spanish) Investigacion en Cifras

"La Privatizacion de las Universidades", Maria Olivia Monckeberg, Ed. Copa Rota, ISBN 956-8523-00-6.

External links

Official Web Site

University of Chile Indicators (In English)

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article University of Chile

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