Information on the higher education system

Imprimir PDF

The Cuban system of Higher Education is today composed of 68 higher education institutions including 3150 university sites. In Cuba, education at all levels, including undergraduate and graduate studies are public and entirely free.

The Ministry of Higher Education was founded in 1976 in line with the growing importance granted by the State to higher education. Four basic principles underlie the training of professionals in Cuba, namely:

1- A broad profile curricula, with two leading ideas:

    • the combination of instruction and education
    • a close link between studies and work

2- Continuing education in all fields of knowledge

3- Research as an integral part of the university mission

4- University extension as the integrating process of university work

Ninety-four different five year undergraduate programs are offered, covering all fields of knowledge. Curricula are based on the criterion of broad-profile undergraduate training, through a greater integration of the academic research and pre-professional work components. This proved that it its necessary to train professionals who, with a sound mastery of the fundamental knowledge and the most general professional skills in a given field, are better able to achieve an upgrade and increase of their knowledge and qualifications through postgraduate studies and also to develop new skills required to meet the variety of changing demands and conditions from the world of work and the development of society.

To this end, a needs analysis was conducted for each program, which resulted in the set of assignments that characterizes each profession. These assignments became the starting point for curricula design, which show the set of professional goals that should be met for each degree course that is the pedagogical expression of the social mission of each university. Among the various features of this design, the concept of an integrating discipline, as an important element to achieve systematization and integration of curricula contents, has had the greatest impact. Identified with the professional activity the integrative discipline offers the best framework to establish the link with professional practice and to harmoniously structure pre-professional work and research throughout the program.

The permanent improvement of higher education is expressed by the appropriateness of the continuous renewal of Cuban universities given the ever growing need of updating and enhancing knowledge; this is of particular significance, not only for undergraduate courses, but also for the responses that must be given by the various modalities of the postgraduate level.

At present postgraduate academic education is geared towards achieving specialties and master’s degrees and doctorates. Another important line of postgraduate studies is that of continuing education for further professionalization, updating, recycling and complementation.

Since the year 2000 crucial transformations have been taking place in the Cuban system of higher education, which are aimed towards broadening the opportunities and possibilities of access to universities of the least favored social sectors. These transformations have been the result of a more comprehensive approach for achieving more social justice and equity. These transformations include the location of the university. Thus we have been engaged in opening university campuses in all municipalities and increasing its access.

But it is not only to widen access to university studies to achieve greater equity among all citizens. This is to reduce the dropout rate, which involves to create all necessary conditions to ensure that the vast majority of entering students to complete their training successfully. Obviously, this presents huge challenges both academic and social.

To meet these challenges, the new Cuban university has gone beyond its traditional walls and now carries out all its processes in a close relationship with all of society, particularly with local communities and territories. New pedagogical innovations to enhance the quality of learning are being implemented and validated; new programs are offered to meet the demands made, on the one hand, by the dynamics of science and technology and, on the other, by the specific needs of the country, of a productive sector or of a given region.

Graphical representation

Estatistics Bureau of the Ministry of Higher Education offers information in its Statistics Bulletin.

Ministries in charge of Higher Education Institutions

Ministry of Higher Education (MES)

Mnistry of Education (MINED)

Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP)

National Institute of Sports and Physical Culture

Evaluation and accreditation systems in higher education

All university entities have focused their attention on systematic quality assurance and quality improvement not only in the academic processes of undergraduate and graduate education and in scientific research but also in university management.

A university system of accreditation programs (SUPRA) was established in 1999 aimed at contributing to the improvement of Higher Education by certifying, at a national and international level, programs and institutions which meet the established quality standards. To implement this system a National Accreditation Board was created. This Board aims to contribute to improving the quality of Cuban higher education through the development and implementation of the University System Accreditation Program. Its objectives are to promote, organize, implement and control the policy of accreditation for higher education in the country through the bodies as directed. In addition, the Board grants the different categories of accreditation to evaluated programs and institutions.

SUPRA includes the Evaluation and Accreditation System for undergraduate programs (SEA-CU), the Evaluation and Accreditation System for Master’s Degree programs (SEA-M), the Evaluation and Accreditation System for Doctoral programs (SEA-DR) and the System for the Evaluation of Institutions (SEI).

SUPRA operates within a legal framework which ensures its proper development. The system of accreditation programs is based on the following principles:

1.- Quality standards for Cuban Higher Education meet international standards, embracing academic excellence and social relevance.

2.- The system does not exist “per se”. It is the essential way of management to assure systematic quality improvement of programs and/or institutions.

3.- Self-evaluation is the core of the system. It is conducted by those who directly implement a program (for program accreditation) or by the faculty and administrative leaders forming the staff or a given school, department, laboratory, university municipal site, etc. (for accreditation of institutions).

4.- Certification is based on external evaluations conducted by peers and experts in open discussions with the agents of the program or institution being evaluated.

Although evaluation of programs and institutions of higher learning have been taking place in Cuba since 1976 and all institutions have received an evaluation on cycles that range from 3 to 5 years, the accreditation of programs as such was started nine years ago.

SUPRA systems include Evaluation Rules, Quality Standards and Evaluation Guides. These are the basic documents for developing a general self-evaluation culture within the university population: academic staff, students and other stakeholders. Standards for each accreditation category to be granted, procedures, documents and information to be delivered to peers during the external evaluation, technical aspects for each stage of the process, and criteria for decisions regarding the achievement of standards, are described in these documents.

The accreditation categories granted to each program are:

Undergraduate programs:

Authorized program

Certified program

Excellence program

Master’s Degree programs:

Authorized program

Ratified program

Certified program

Excellence program

Doctoral program:

Authorized program

Certified program

Excellence program

Undergraduate programs reach the category of Authorized programs through the defense of the project presented by the corresponding National Undergraduate Commission before a board composed of renewed experts from academic and / or productive sector. The Minister of Higher Education grants this category.

The category of Master's Program Authorized is reached through a positive opinion of the Advisory Committee on Graduate Education (COPEP) of the Ministry of Higher Education, endorsed by Resolution of the Minister of Higher Education.

The National Commission for Scientific Degrees of the Republic of Cuba grants the category of Authorized program to each Doctoral program that meets the requirements of the Cuban regulations and quality standards.

Other accreditation categories are granted by the National Accreditation Board of Cuba after submitting them to an appropriate self-evaluation, external review and recognition by the Board.

According to the Evaluation and Accreditation System for undergraduate programs, categories of Certified and Excellence programs can only be granted if the program fulfills the following:

    • five cohorts of graduates
    • satisfactory results in partial or general evaluations of the program in the last two years

    • official request of an external evaluation to the National Accreditation Board signed by the university rector

    • satisfactory results during the peer review

    • favorable opinion of the Technical Evaluation Committee

    • agreement of the National Accreditation Board

These categories will last five years. Only after two or more years, can the program be submitted to another external evaluation process in order to improve the accreditation category or ratify the one previously obtained.

In the case of the Master’s Degree programs, the category of Authorized program, granted by the Cuban Adviser Commission for Graduate Studies (COPEP), will last five years. During this time, the program has to complete two editions and to have started a third one, in order to be able to ask the National Accreditation Board for an external evaluation. As the result of the process, the program will obtain a higher category (Ratified, Certified or Excellence Program) or will remain as an Authorized Program.

Categories of Ratified, Certified or Excellence Program will be granted if the program fulfills the following:

    • two editions with the corresponding self-evaluation processes completed

    • a third edition in course

    • official request of an external evaluation to the National Accreditation Board signed by the university rector

    • satisfactory results during the peer review

    • favorable opinion of the Technical Evaluation Committee

    • agreement of the National Accreditation Board

The category of Ratified Program will last four years. The category of Certified Program will last three editions covering 6 years and the category of Excellence Program will last four editions during eight years.

The Certified or Excellence category for Doctoral programs will be granted if the program completed a self-evaluation process, an official request for an external evaluation is sent to the National Accreditation Board, satisfactory results are obtained during the external evaluation, the Technical Evaluation Committee expresses a favorable opinion and the National Accreditation Board agrees with the proposed category.

Doctoral programs have to complete at least a self-evaluation process in a period of five years after their approval by the National Commission of Scientific Degrees. At that time, an official request for an external evaluation has to be made. If at the end of the accreditation process no category other than that of Authorized Program was granted by the National Accreditation Board, the program has a period of time no greater than three years to ask for a new external evaluation. If the results are not favorable, the Authorized category can be denied by the National Commission of Scientific Degrees.


15 años de injusticia!!!




XI Conferencia Internacional

Congreso de Extensión


III Escuela de Invierno


Red Observatorios MES


Discursos de Fidel

Discursos de Raúl


Firme la petición