Second Preliminary Meeting of the Axis of Higher Education as Part of the Education System in Latin America and the Caribbean

The team of researchers in charge of the thematic axis "Higher education as part of the educational system in Latin America and the Caribbean" of the III Regional Conference on Higher Education (CRES in spanish), met on October 19 and 20 at the headquarters of the Interuniversity Development Center (CINDA) in Santiago de Chile. Its objective was to analyze the progress of regional studies related to the quality of higher education (HE), as well as to share points of view that contribute to the preparation of the proposals that will be presented in CRES 2018 on this central theme.

The meeting was attended by the members of the team, representing the main organizations dedicated to the issue of quality of HE in Latin America and the Caribbean: Alberto Dibbern of the National Commission for University Evaluation and Accreditation (CONEAU), Argentina ; Jairo Téllez, former coordinator of the National Accreditation Council (CNA), Colombia; Alfonso Muga, president of the National Accreditation Commission (CNA) Chile; Raul Aguilera, president of the Ibero-American Network for the Quality Assurance of Higher Education (RIACES) and director of the National Agency for the Evaluation and Accreditation of Higher Education (ANEAES), Paraguay; and Carolyn Hayle, President of the University Council of Jamaica. María José Lemaitre, executive director of CINDA, coordinated the team. It also counted with the presence of Debora Ramos, academic consultant of the UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC), who participated on behalf of Mr. Pedro Henríquez Guajardo, director of UNESCO-IESALC.

The work was oriented to analyze the situation of the HE in Latin America and the Caribbean, considering the significant changes experienced in the last century and making an exhaustive analysis of the context, and of the challenges that arise from the demographic evolution, the changes in the social and productive structure, and the diversification of both the demand and offer of higher education services. A reflection on the concept of quality and the need to promote a better articulation between higher education and the education systems of the region’s countries, and with the different levels of post-secondary education and the working and productive environment is the foundation of the work in progress.

For the team of experts, the Latin America and the Caribbean region has had among its central concerns the issue of the quality of HE for more than twenty-five years. During this period, the countries have designed and developed various activities to control and ensure quality, and have generated multiple experiences; in the process, valuable lessons have been learned about how HE systems have contributed to the personal, professional and social development of their citizens. The team in charge of this thematic axis works on the identification and systematization of these experiences, with the aim of using the acquired knowledge for the progress of regulation, promotion and advancement processes of HE quality in a sustained manner that will effectively be able to meet the needs of the 21st Century.

RCHE 2018 is a privileged opportunity to divulge the progress made in recent decades, but it is also an occasion to identify the constraints that the region faces, and the practices that tend to paralyze the innovation and the upgrading of HE’s formative function. The experts in charge of this thematic axis trust that an in-depth discussion of the proposals that emerge from this reflective process will lead to an explicit and concrete commitment of the governments and of those responsible for the design of policies, of the institutions of higher education (HEI) , academics and students, from quality assurance agencies, and of the social actors in general, with the development of an HE that will effectively open opportunities, allow learning throughout life and contribute to the personal and social development of the people and societies where they live.