Universidad de Las Américas and AEQUALIS host international forum on higher education

Forum participants discuss steps needed to move tertiary education forward


Universidad de Las Americas and AEQUALIS host international forum on higher education

The forum “Higher Education in Changing Times: Institutional Restructuring”, which was organized by Universidad de Las Américas (UDLA) and AEQUALIS, brought international experts together to share their comprehensive views on the challenges higher education is facing. According to the experts, the differences between public and private universities are coming to an end, and there is a need to change the current paradigms so institutions can move from competitiveness to integration and cooperation.

Jamil Salmi, an expert in tertiary education and former advisor to the World Bank; Luis Riveros, professor and former rector of Universidad de Chile; José Joaquín Brunner, professor and researcher; and the Egyptian analyst Sam Mikhail, whose main areas of study are the impact and benefits of new technologies in tertiary education and the creation of human capital, participated in the forum.

More than 150 guests attended the forum and provided a global and diverse overview of the current debate in higher education. The viewpoints will help national experts develop their stance on the situation of higher education in Chile and the challenges faced during times of change. The academics converged on a critical point: the established patterns need to be broken so that the system can better adapt to the needs and requirements of a globalized and dynamic world.

“Chile lacks the capacity to break the frameworks of the past and start thinking of the future. For this purpose, a public policy is needed, not just of one particular government, but one aimed at the country’s future growth. Much time has been wasted on the current conflict between public and private universities”, concluded Jamil Salmi, who in 2009 was a member of the OECD and World Bank teams responsible for the report on Tertiary Education in Chile.

José Joaquín Brunner, former minister, researcher and professor, pointed out the importance of recognizing what he calls teaching universities and ending the existing paradigm of education for the elite of Chile. According to Brunner “we must make an effort to rethink the principles without falling into the trap of hegemonic thought,” while emphasizing that in Chile almost 90% of the universities are what he calls teaching institutions. Thus, the challenge should be “to focus on the quality of the teaching practice at these academic institutions.”

With regard to the changes that are considered in relation to quality accreditation, Luis Riveros, former president of Universidad de Chile, stated that this should be a guiding process, not a “traffic light”. He highlighted the need for the quality certification system to respond “less to formal and financial aspects, but to concentrate on a strategic plan for the country and for each of the institutions.”

This article has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.