The Universidad Católica del Norte, with 60 years of history, is a public institution and forms part of the original group of universities in the National Higher Education System. Its highest principles are those of the Catholic Church. Guided by the values of Christian Humanism, its mission is to contribute to the constant search for truth, the development of individuals, society and community cultural heritage through teaching, research and outreach.
This institution was formed by a group of priests belonging to the Company of Jesus, together with Mrs. Berta González de Astorga, benefactor of the university, and began its functions on May 31 1956, as the eighth university in Chile and the third with a Catholic vocation.
With the aim of serving the community through teaching, research and outreach, the Universidad Católica del Norte was founded in 1956, thanks to the enthusiasm and initiative of the priests of the Company of Jesus, who fought tirelessly to achieve their dream for the young people of the north of Chile: a university at the service of culture, science and development, but with a strong Christian orientation. This project was made possible thanks to the generous support of Mrs. Berta González de Astorga, who donated the land where the institution, then known as the Universidad del Norte (University of the North) was built.
With just 100 students and 20 professors, the university opened its doors on March 25 1957, working under the auspices of the Universidad Católica de Valparaiso. This arrangement continued until 1964, when the university was fully recognized by the Ministry of Education, becoming completely autonomous and taking its place as the third Catholic university in the country, and the eighth traditional institution of higher education with a public vocation.
From the start, the Universidad Católica del Norte has carried out internal development initiatives, broadening and diversifying the scope of its activities by training specialized professionals and scientists. It has become a key center for research, a cultural agent and a center for the development of highly-skilled human resources, always responding to the demands of its surroundings.
Currently, UCN has a student body of over 12 thousand. In recent years, the university has made a concerted effort to diversify the postgraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees that it offers in a broad range of fields. Over 70 per cent of its academic staff hold post-graduate qualifications. The university faculty has achieved a considerable level of scientific productivity, with publications in indexed scientific journals and international patents and licenses resulting from its work.
The university holds a prestigious position within the national framework for higher education in terms of projects awarded by the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (Fondecyt) and the Fund for the Promotion of Scientific and Technological Development (Fondef). Achievements such as these situate UCN at the forefront of higher education at a national level and make it a leader in the fields of science and technology in the north of Chile.
In recognition of the challenges of a globalized world, UCN has oriented its activities towards the development and implantation of a distinctive Educational Project, which allows its students to acquire competencies, skills and abilities with the support of technological platforms that facilitate their integration into the labor market. Through this project, teaching at UCN has taken on a characteristic profile, with academics and students capable of forming part of national and international and working groups.
The strategic objectives that guide the activities of the Universidad Católica del Norte are covered in its Corporate Development Plan, and are aligned with and supported by the institutional vision of being recognized as a leading catholic university with a social vocation.