Sucre, Bolivia – I mentioned Sucre’s historical University of Saint Francis Xavier in a few posts [here, here and here] over the past 10 days, whose students and faculty were in the midst of an annual battle with the state government over budgetary shortfalls. With that conflict apparently resolved for another year –or at least postponed– here’s a bit more on the university itself which is approaching its 400th birthday, making it the second oldest in the Americas.
Saint Francis Xavier –its official name is The Royal and Pontificial Major University of Saint Francis Xavier of Chuquisaca– was founded in 1624; in the western hemisphere only the National University of San Marcos in Lima, Peru, chartered in 1551, is older. By comparison, Harvard, the oldest institution of higher learning in the U.S., was established in 1636.
Established with the wealthy gentry of South America in mind, its role and reach gradually expanded over the next 150 years. By the turn of the 19th century USFX became a focal point for revolutionary thought in the region and later had a direct role not only in Bolivia’s independence, but in that of most of the former Spanish colonies as well. Upon Bolivian independence in 1825, it became the young country’s main university, and remained an important institution on the continent through the turn of the 20th century, particularly for its law faculty with attracted students from throughout the region.
As a public university, tuition is negligible, even in local terms; students pay just 29 Bolivianos, or 4.19 USD / 3.20 EUR annually. Its website (Spanish only) is here. A few more images below.