Saturday, March 26, 2016

An Institution Known for Excellence
Cuba’s flagship institution of higher learning was rated as excellent in the evaluation process carried out, this past October, by the National Accreditation Board (JAN)

Yenia Silva Correa |
March 23, 2016 08:03:35

Cuba’s flagship institution of higher learning was rated as excellent in the evaluation process carried out, this past October, by the National Accreditation Board (JAN). The accomplishment filled professors, workers and students alike with great pride, for good reason, since this is the first time a university in the country has been awarded the highest ranking.

The University of Havana (UH) leads the nation in scientific production, as evidenced by the fact that, in 2015, staff members received 21 prizes from the Academy of Sciences for their work, and in 2014, the number was 23.

The university offers 32 bachelor degree programs, 66 masters and 22 doctorates.

Unlike other institutions of higher learning which were also evaluated, all of UH undergraduate, postgraduate and doctorate programs eligible for consideration were accredited.

Addressing the importance of such recognition, the University’s rector, Dr. Gustavo Cobreiro Suárez, said, “This is the result of a strategy developed five years ago. Sixty-four percent of bachelor degree programs and 73% of our masters are accredited as excellent.”

Every year, some 3,500 students graduate from the University of Havana, plus some 200 MSc and more than 100 PhD.

Currently enrolled in the regular day program are 14,949 students, including 1,784 living in university residences, and 224 international students from 43 countries. Additionally, some 5,000 individuals from abroad attend shorter academic courses and events.


The National Accreditation Board is the Cuban body responsible for evaluating undergraduate, masters, doctorate, and post-graduate programs and institutions.

The quality criteria which it establishes reflect international standards and trends, taking into consideration the Cuban context.

Many of the post-graduate programs at UH have been awarded prizes by the Ibero-American University Post-graduate Association (AUIP), which honors the quality of such programs in Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries.

In 2015, the AIUP awarded the Doctorate in Pedagogical Sciences Quality Prize to Cuba’s Center for the Study of Improvement in Higher Education (CEPES) at the UH, while a number of other academic departments have been recognized in the past, including masters programs in Mathematics, Biology and Chemistry.

Also evidence of the excellence achieved by the prestigious institution are the more than 450 international covenants and 260 projects, in which it participates.


Today, the UH has more than 10,000 internet connections, while wireless access is available in all academic departments, centers, and student residences. More than 3,000 university computers are linked via an internal network.

One issue relevant to improvements in the University’s infrastructure is that the institution includes 67 buildings located outside of the central campus. Dr. Cobreiro Suárez comments, “We have been transforming the University. Half of the apartments in student residences have been completely renovated; all academic departments and all centers have undergone repairs.”

Although there are still buildings under reparation, including several of important historical value, the development of students has not been affected. In this regard, ties with other institutions have played a critical role.

“The problem is not where the student acquires abilities,” Cobreiro said, “But rather how they are obtained. Our biologists do not have all of the equipment they need, but students go the Scientific Pole (research center outside of Havana). Our ties with the state sector, with enterprises, with government entities, allow for abilities which cannot be acquired at the University to be obtained in these places.”


In 2010, the UH became one of the first institutions in the country to be accredited. Six years later, it is projecting income from academic services and sales of scientific work valued at three million CUC, surpassing the figure of 2.5 million earned in 2015.

Cobreiro commented, “Ninety-five percent of the objectives we established were met, and this led to results in 2016 which are more noteworthy than the outcome of the quality evaluation.”

“We are now working on a strategic plan through 2021, in which we are proposing higher goals: maintaining national leadership in the sciences, in postgraduate programs, and research. But I believe the most important challenge is ensuring that the university is always at the Revolution’s side, preserving its conquests and preserving the university dedicated to the country’s development.”

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