The State University of Western Paraná or Universidade Estatual do Oeste do Parana is usually known as Unioeste. It is a public university in the southern Brazilian border state serving the region which includes the ‘Triple Frontier’ with Paraguay and Argentina and the famed Iguacu Falls, rated as one of the "Seven Natural Wonders of the World".
It was formed in 1987 by the merger of municipal institutions in Cascavel, Foz de Iguacu, Toledo and Marechal Candido Rondon, of which the oldest and largest was Fecivel in Cascavel, founded in 1972. Recognised as a university in 1994, it created a fifth campus at Francisco Beltrao in 1998 and incorporated the Cascavel Regional Hospital as a medical school in 2000.
The headquarters and largest campus remain at Cascavel, a modern city which owes its mild climate to being 815m above sea level and has tripled in population to more than 300,000 since the foundation of Fecivel. Higher education has been among the engines of growth, with the establishment during this time of several private institutions.
Unioeste was ranked seventh among the 36 Brazilian universities assessed in 2017 under the Ministry for Education’s General Course Index. Academic initiatives in 2018 include the creation of the Nucleo Maria de Penha, a multidisciplinary centre focused on tackling violence against women.
More than 90 per cent of Unioeste students come from the state of Paraná. This makes the announcement of the list of successful applicants for places a major local event, which in 2017 was accompanied by a university-sponsored street festival in Cascavel’s Avenida Brasil.