University autonomy and the contributions of RCHE 2018 were key issues in ASCUN’s International Forum

Within the framework of the commemorative events of the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the Colombian Association of Universities (ASCUN), held on October 25th and 26th at the Bogota Capital Hotel, Colombia, the UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNESCO-IESALC) contributed ideas on the region’s university autonomy, central theme of the meeting.

The opening of the event began with the International Forum "Challenges and Perspectives on University Autonomy" preparation for the Regional Conference on Higher Education (RCHE 2018). This meeting was attended by Hernando Forero, executive director of ASCUN; Pedro Henríquez-Guajardo, director of UNESCO-IESALC; Adolfo León Atehortúa Cruz, president of ASCUN; and Marta Losada Falk, rector of the Antonio Nariño University.

Henríquez Guajardo, director of UNESCO-IESALC, spoke about the importance of redefining the meaning of university autonomy, based on the results of the Regional Conference on Higher Education 2008 (RCHE): "autonomy is a right and a necessary condition to ensure academic work with freedom, and at the same time it represents an enormous responsibility to fulfill its mission with quality, relevance, efficiency and transparency in face of society’s challenges. Social accountability implies a social commitment and both must necessarily accompany each other. The institutions of the higher education system (HE) are not the ones that have to solve the problems, but they must contribute by means of the construction of knowledge”, he said.

On the afternoon of October 25, the following participants attended the conversation Ibero-American Panorama, Perspectives and Contributions to the Regional Conference on Higher Education 2018 and to the World Conference on Higher Education: Henríquez-Guajardo; Elizabeth Colucci, representative of the European Association of Universities (USA); Álvaro Maglia, executive secretary of the University Association of Montevideo Group (AUGM); Jaime Valls, executive general secretary of the National Association of Universities and Institutions of Higher Education (ANUIES); Rodolfo Tecchi, president of the National Interuniversity Council of Argentina (CIN); Alfonso Fuentes Soria, general secretary of the Central American University Higher Council (CSUCA); Francisco Telémaco Talavera Siles, president of the National Council of Universities of Nicaragua (CNU); Félix García Lausín, general secretary of the Ibero-American University Council (CUIB); Roberto Escalante, general secretary of the Union of Universities of Latin America and the Caribbean (UDUAL), and José Ramón Saborido, Minister of Higher Education of Cuba.

In this last space, the director of UNESCO-IESALC described the next RCHE 2018, to be held in Córdoba, Argentina, in June 2018, as a unique opportunity to debate ideas and rethink the institutions of HE in the region, and gave details on the conceptual structure of this regional meeting, which coincides with the celebration of the Centenary of the Luminar Manifesto of Córdoba, and is based on the HE trends in Latin America and the Caribbean: quality; cultural diversity and interculturality; internationalization and integration; social challenges; scientific, technological and innovation research; and sustainable development.

In this regard he spoke about the contribution scenarios that could be received from higher education institutions, organizations, networks, chairs. He pointed out the conceptual, analysis, opinion and co-edition spaces, emphasizing the open invitation to participate in the proposal of ideas.