Artículo preparado con Anthony Tillett para el libro de próxima publicación, editado por James Forest & Philip Altbach, International Handbook of Higher Education(2 Volumes); Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Springer.
Palabras claves: public / private, markets, policies, structure, expansion, funding, equality
Disponible aquí como Download file [pdf]
Chile has not escaped the multiple pressures facing higher education across the world (Brunner, 2003). All countries face the urgent task of refocusing higher education through more flexible and adaptive institutions as a way of maintaining their social and educational relevance.
Moreover, for developing countries, present choices require that higher education address an historic deficit—ensuring greater equity of access and opportunity—as increasing numbers of students achieve satisfactory primary and secondary education levels, thus leading to increasing demand among qualified applicants to higher education.
Any analysis of the response of Chile’s higher education to the historic deficit and future needs must be broadened to include the history, policy and approaches of the institutions themselves. When compared to many European countries, for example, Chile’s higher educational institutions are strongly autonomous and the role of the government consequently weaker. Indeed, there is no overall planning for the sector and government policy is limited to specific financial support (and, increasingly, persuasion). There is, however, a growing opinion that higher educational institutions have a key role in supporting greater economic competitiveness, crucial for Chile’s open economy, and this recognition is creating a consensus about the value and importance of higher education among government, economic groups and the public at large.
Chile’s response is shaped by the move, over the last thirty years, from a predominantly state-controlled to a market system in providing higher education (Brunner, 1997). Costs and funding have become the predominant issues, together with two characteristic market issues— economies of scale and regulation. Higher education in Chile today is shaped less by relations with the government than by interactions between the component institutions. Even so, there is a healthy recognition among policy makers and university leaders that educational excellence, based on international norms, must be a principal goal for higher education. For a market higher education system, where the units are autonomous, quality presents a formidable challenge. As government funding is limited, both as a matter of economics and policy, public policy relies on competition to provide these changes. Hence, the challenge of building a solid consensus about the value of higher education and its future role goes hand in hand in providing greater opportunities to overcome the historic deficit and adjusting to competition for students and funds by higher educational institutions.