07 avril 2012

Buscador de Formación Continua en Latinoamérica

http://www.cfp.upv.es/webs/recla/imagenes/buscador/cabecera_busc.gif

Busque formación continua en alguno de los siguientes países en los que RECLA está presente. Tan solo tiene que hacer click en el nombre del país.

Bélgica España
Brasil Guatemala
Chile Honduras
Colombia México
Costa Rica Nicaragua
Ecuador Panamá
El Salvador Peru

Posté par pcassuto à 17:12 - - Permalien [#]


05 avril 2012

Venture-Backed Enterprise Seeks to Satisfy Global Demand for an Elite Education, Online

http://chronicle.com/img/subscribe_11_2011.jpgBy Nick DeSantis. Elite American universities maintain their prestige by turning away a huge percentage of applicants every year. And the education entrepreneur Ben Nelson sees an opportunity in this demand for top-flight education: He wants to reach talented students across the world and to build a new university that could remake the image of Ivy League education.
Mr. Nelson, founder of a start-up called the Minerva Project, believes the minuscule acceptance rates at prestigious institutions leave some college-bound students without a place where they can pursue a blue-ribbon degree. So his for-profit enterprise seeks to satisfy that demand by offering a rigorous online education to the brightest students around the world who slip through the cracks of highly selective admissions cycles. Mr. Nelson said his company, which is calling itself “the first elite American university to be launched in a century,” will disregard the barriers that might put the Ivy League beyond the reach of qualified applicants.
“We don’t care about geography, we don’t care about how wealthy you are, we don’t care if you’re able to donate or have donated in the past, or legacy or where your ancestors went to school,” he said. “We really just want to equalize the playing field.”
The start-up, based in San Francisco, plans to do so by charging tuition rates “well under half” of those at traditional top-tier institutions, Mr. Nelson said. The new university is seeking accreditation, Mr. Nelson added, and will welcome its first class in 2014. Though he did not specify how big he expects Minerva’s student body to be, Mr. Nelson said his goal is to make sure no qualified students “get rejected because we say we’re full.” He added that he expects Minerva to be “far better represented internationally than a typical American university.”
The company can afford to charge cheaper tuition, Mr. Nelson said, in part because it expects incoming students to have already mastered the material that makes up everyday introductory courses. For instance, Minerva may offer Applied Economic Theory instead of Economics 101, he said.
“What we expect to teach is how you apply and synthesize that information and how you do something with it,” Mr. Nelson said.
To create these advanced courses, Minerva will break down the role of professor into two distinct jobs instead of simply poaching faculty members from other universities. The company will award monetary prizes to “distinguished teachers among great research faculty,” Mr. Nelson said, who will team up with crews to videotape lectures and craft innovative courses when they are not teaching at their home institutions. (Mr. Nelson declined to elaborate on the size of the prizes.)
Minerva will then hire a second group of instructors to deliver the material. Mr. Nelson called them “preceptors,” who will typically be young graduates of doctoral programs—they will lead class discussions online, hold office hours, and grade assignments. After its students graduate, Mr. Nelson said the university plans to help alumni connect with their peers to create businesses, do research, and find jobs.
“The Minerva education isn’t just about getting your four-year degree and then going to work for Goldman Sachs and crossing your fingers and hoping you’ll do really well,” he said. “It’s actually playing an active role in facilitating your success afterwards.”
Mr. Nelson’s challenge to the Ivy League is already flush with cash: The prominent Silicon Valley investment firm Benchmark Capital has pumped $25-million into Minerva’s coffers—the firm’s richest seed-stage investment ever. And the company has attracted some high-profile advisers. Lawrence H. Summers, the former U.S. treasury secretary and Harvard University president emeritus, is the chair of Minerva’s advisory board, which includes Bob Kerrey, the U.S. Senate candidate from Nebraska who is a former president of the New School, among other education luminaries.
Minerva’s attempt to disrupt elite higher education is a “bold move,” according to Michael B. Horn, executive director for education at Innosight Institute, a think tank focused on innovation. “It’s kind of breathtaking in its ambition, and it’s exciting to see what will happen,” he said. He noted that especially among international students, there’s a tremendous demand for elite education and not enough supply. But he added that the upstart faces a significant challenge: creating an identity that will convince students to take a chance on a university with little name recognition.
“Can you launch a new brand that doesn’t have a track record in this age?” he asked. Ultimately, he predicted, the market will help decide Minerva’s fate: If its students do well and go on to great things, “that will create desirability over time. And that’s a critical lever to see if this will work or not.”

Posté par pcassuto à 21:44 - - Permalien [#]

22 mars 2012

Au Québec, l’accès à l’Université - une question de perception des coûts

http://iffresblog.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/cropped-sydney_bridge1.jpgCautionner une hausse des droits de scolarité ou leur gel à l’université reste un choix de société. Cependant, il faut être bien conscient que même si on aboutissait à une quasi-«gratuité» pour les étudiants qui accèdent à l’université, le coût des études supérieures serait néanmoins à assumer par quelqu’un.
À titre d’exemple, en Suède souvent prise en référence, on finance la «gratuité» de l’enseignement supérieur par un impôt s’appliquant même à partir de revenus modestes. À un autre niveau, les syndicats étudiants dénoncent en France, pays où les étudiants paient des droits très faibles à l’université, que les étudiants soient obligés, dans certains secteurs, de « s’acheter » des conventions de stages (peu rémunérés) dans l’espoir de se décrocher par la suite un premier emploi.
Un argument qu’on entend souvent pour dénoncer la hausse des droits de scolarité est celui de l’accessibilité aux études. J’ai mené pour le compte du ministère de l’Éducation, en 2007, une étude sur différents scénarios de gel ou hausse des droits au Québec. Appliquer directement les conclusions de l’étude à la hausse actuelle peut cependant s’avérer difficile.
Tous les économistes s’entendent sur l’idée que, lorsqu’un prix s’élève, la quantité consommée de ce bien sera réduite. En revanche, l’ampleur de cette variation est très discutée et mon étude ne fait pas exception à cette discussion.
De plus, l’étude de 2007 s’appuyait sur différentes hypothèses. La hausse des droits prévue dans le budget, même si elle est élevée sur une courte période de temps, n’en reste pas moins progressive et annoncée. L’impact de cette hausse devrait, de ce fait, être plus faible que celle calculée dans l’étude où l’hypothèse était une augmentation soudaine et immédiate des droits pour atteindre 50% des droits canadiens.
De plus, une autre hypothèse, souvent oubliée quand les résultats de l’étude sont rapportés, est qu’on s’y plaçait dans un univers où « toute chose est égale par ailleurs », hypothèse que l’on ne retrouve évidemment pas dans la réalité. La hausse des droits de scolarité ne va pas être le seul changement que connaîtront les étudiants dans les cinq prochaines années, et assurément, les étudiants et leurs parents s’adapteront à cette hausse dans le but d’accéder à l’université. Cela pourrait être en travaillant plus l’été, en réduisant les dépenses de loisirs, en acceptant de plus s’endetter, ou en cotisant dans un REEE si on envisage un plus à long terme, pour ne citer que quelques exemples.
Aussi, mon opinion est que si la hausse des droits entrave l’accès à l’université, ce ne sera pas tant à cause du niveau atteint par les droits, que de la perception qu’ont les étudiants et leur famille du coût total des études, souvent surévalué, alors que les bénéfices de l’éducation sont largement sous-évalués, notamment pour les familles les plus modestes.
De plus, si l’idée est réellement de promouvoir l’accès à l’université, le meilleur moyen reste d’investir dans les ordres inférieurs d’éducation, du secondaire jusqu’aux CPE, afin d’accompagner les élèves dans leur réussite scolaire. Les ressources du gouvernement, et en définitive des citoyens, ne sont pas illimitées, et si le combat est l‘accès à l’université, il faut utiliser les bons moyens.
http://iffresblog.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/cropped-sydney_bridge1.jpg~~VGodkende en stigning i undervisning eller fryse på universitetet er et samfundsmæssigt valg. Det bør imidlertid være klar over, at selv om man ankommer til et kvasi-"fri" for elever, der vælger universitetet, udgifterne til de videregående uddannelser er stadig skal bæres af en person. Mere...

Posté par pcassuto à 22:06 - - Permalien [#]

11 février 2012

The Story of Higher Education in Brazil: Too Many Openings, Too Few Good Schools

http://www.geo.fr/var/geo/storage/images/media/images/rubrique-environnement/revue-de-presse/la-revue-de-presse-de-blaise-mao-du-15-au-22-decembre/logo-brazzil/202365-1-fre-FR/logo-brazzil_medium.jpgBy Cristovam Buarque. Instead of the consumption of classes, education is a process of knowledge accumulation. But our university classrooms seem like restaurants where classes are consumed. Due to the students' poor preparation, the increase in higher-education admission slots will not bring about the desired results. The classes will fail as builders of high-level knowledge.
The solution does not lie in a return to the elitist past when only a very few young people entered the universities. It lies instead in an advance through which everyone who desires a higher education will have had a quality secondary education and will enter the university with the basic education demanded by the present time.
In the last 20 years, the number of Brazilian higher-education admission slots has grown 503%, but the number of young people concluding secondary school grew only 170%, certainly without a corresponding improvement in educational quality.
There are 2.6 million higher-education slots for the 1.8 million students who complete their secondary education. Instead of 10 to 15 applicants per opening, there are 2.3 openings per applicant.
Even considering the admission needs of those who have already finished their secondary education, this difference is an absurd distortion. It will bring dire consequences for the university training of Brazil, rendering impossible the existence of good universities and faculties since a good higher education depends upon good elementary/secondary education.
The elitism of the university-slot shortage was eliminated, but what remain are the economic elitism and the good, free universities for the student able to pay for a good elementary/secondary education.
The last few administrations have correctly created university slots but did little to ensure that every child would have access to a quality school. The Lula administration created PROUNI, which pays a monthly stipend to the needy, who, due to the lack of good secondary education, do not enter the public universities.
We abandoned our efforts to construct an intellectual elite but left intact the social elitism. Thus we are not accumulating knowledge; we are, rather, consuming classes.
Besides creating more university admission slots, we must promote a quality elementary/secondary education for all. This demands a revolution and not merely a II National Education Plan (II PNE), which is possibly as irrelevant as the I PNE. This revolution will only be possible if we make elementary/secondary education a national priority just as we did decades ago for higher education.
This revolution will be made by means of a National Teachers Profession and a Federal Program of Scholarly Quality in Full-Day School Sessions. Through this new profession, the teachers and education public servants would be hired through federal public exams; they would receive a monthly salary of R$ 9 thousand [US $ 5.2 thousand] after completing an additional one-year, post-exam course.
Years of service would not protect those who do not dedicate themselves to their students with exclusivity and competence. These teachers would be allotted in the same cities; all the schools in these cities would be federalized, as today has been done with the 300 federal schools.
All the schools would have attractive, comfortable buildings and would be equipped with the most modern pedagogical tools with which all the teachers would be familiarized. This proposal is developed in detail in the book A Revolução Republicana na Educação [The republican revolution in education], which can be obtained for free in Portuguese with the link http://bit.ly/ukvvGJ.
A program like this could be initiated immediately, but implementation has been delayed throughout the country, above all for lack of the necessary human resources. The solution is implemented city by city. The new corps of teachers could incorporate 100 thousand teachers each year, who would be allotted in 10 thousand schools in 250 cities and, on the average, serve about 3 million students.
The revolution will be made immediately in these cities, and in all Brazil it will take 20 years. During this period, the new system of federal schools would replace the traditional municipal or state system. After 20 years, the cost will be around 6.4% of the GDP.
This revolution was initiated at the end of 2003 in 28 small cities but interrupted before it was even implanted. The recent inauguration of a new Brazilian Minister of Education can be the moment to initiate the implementation of this proposal that in 2003 received the name of Escola Ideal [Ideal School].
With it, we will all count upon a high-quality elementary/secondary education system with the possibility of a quality system of higher education, in which the competition for admission slots will take place without - instead of with - social discrimination.
We would have the good sort of intellectual elitism with the same chance for all, as in soccer. And with no lies.
Cristovam Buarque is a professor at the University of Brasília and a PDT senator for the Federal District.  You can visit his website at www.cristovam.org.br/portal2/, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SEN_CRISTOVAM in Portuguese and http://twitter.com/cbbrazilianview in English and write to him at cristovam@senado.gov.br. Translated from the Portuguese by Linda Jerome (LinJerome@cs.com).

Posté par pcassuto à 23:37 - - Permalien [#]

04 février 2012

Factores clave de éxito en la educación continua

http://www.recla.org/_/rsrc/1319571667382/noticias/revistatendenciasno10/revista%20tendencias.jpg?height=320&width=225Descarque aquí la Revista Tendencias  "esta publicación realiza un recorrido presentando el punto de vista de profesores y funcionarios de universidades de Europa y Latinoamérica sobre algunos temas centrales de la Educación Continua" anota Marco Lorenzatti, Secretario General de Educación continua de la Universidad Blas Pascal y vocal de la Red.
Factores clave de éxito en la educación continua. Pau Verrié, Asesor del Rector de la Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, España); Miembro del Steering Committee de EUCEN. Contacto: pau.verrie@gmail.com.
La educación continua constituye una actividad estratégica de las universidades e instituciones de formación superior. El éxito de su gestión se basa en algunos factores clave entre los que destacan la función investigadora de la universidad, la colaboración universidad-empresa, la existencia de estructuras independientes de gestión, la focalización de la actividad y la internacionalización.
Continuing education is a strategic activity for universities and higher education institutions. Their successful management is based on some key factors among which the research mission of the university, the universitycompany collaboration, the existence of separate management structures, the focus of activity and internationalization.

“El objetivo de la Universidad del futuro ha de consistir en ofrecer un contrato de servicios a largo plazo para unos servicios de educación basados en la investigación que puedan ser suministrados durante toda la vida al estudiante-cliente en el lugar y en el momento especificados por el cliente-estudiante. Los servicios de educación deben contener tanto datos e información como una reflexión que contribuya a construir un conocimiento integrado para profesionales responsables miembros de una sociedad basada en la ética” Dr. Roger Dillemans (Rector emérito de la Universidad de Leuven, Bélgica - “El papel de la universidad en un mundo de aprendizajea lo largo de la vida”).
El concepto de educación continua es objeto de múltiples definiciones e interpretaciones. La cita inicial del Dr. Dillemans constituye a mí entender una buena definición, en la medida que sitúa la educación continua como parte del compromiso que establece la universidad, a lo largo de toda la vida, con los estudiantes que se incorporan a ella y se gradúan. En un mundo sometido a procesos de innovación y cambios constantes, la actualización de conocimientos y la capacidad de adaptarse a las nuevas situaciones se han convertido en un reto y en una exigencia a las que las universidades deben responder con rapidez. La responsabilidad de la universidad, como servicio público, tanto si se presta desde instituciones públicas como desde instituciones privadas, no termina con la graduación de los estudiantes y se extiende en los años siguientes con la obligación de ofrecer a los graduados tanto propuestas de especialización como de actualización y reciclaje de los conocimientos adquiridos.
América Latina, como Europa, se ha sumado tarde a esta dinámica, cuando las universidades de Estados Unidos llevaban algunas decenas de años trabajando en esta dirección. El surgimiento en los años noventa del pasado siglo de redes, como la europea EUCEN (European Universities Continuing Education Network) creada en 1990 o la latinoamericana RECLA (Red de Educación Continua de Latinoamérica y Europa) creada en 1997, han permitido establecer un nuevo escenario de relaciones e intercambios y de benchmarking permanente, que contribuye a impulsar un desarrollo creciente de la educación continua en nuestros países.
Este artículo se basa en la experiencia del autor como fundador en 1993 y director general, desde 1993 a 2010, del IDEC, el instituto de educación continua de la Universidad Pompeu Fabra de Barcelona y en su participación en la fundación y desarrollo de las redes de educación continua catalana (ACECU) y española (RUEPEP), así como en las actividades de las redes internacionales, EUCEN y RECLA de cuyos comités ejecutivos ha formado parte en distintos períodos, y en las redes de formación empresarial EFMD, CLADEA, FORQ y PRME en las que ha representado a la UPF durante estos años.
En un intento de síntesis, y sin voluntad de excluir otros factores, resumiré en cinco las que a mi entender son las principales claves de éxito de un centro de educación continua.
I. Una universidad investigadora

Una educación de calidad se basa en una investigación de calidad. El objetivo de excelencia es clave para toda universidad y lo es también para la educación continua que ésta imparte. La calidad de un centro de educación continua está en relación directa con la calidad de la institución de educación superior que hay detrás. Los programas que se imparten deben ser el resultado de un largo y complejo trabajo anterior. Este trabajo debe basarse tanto en la investigación propia de los departamentos y centros de la universidad y de la docencia impartida en los estudios de grado, como en la existencia de estructuras de investigación aplicada a las materias y ámbitos en los que se desarrollan los programas de educación continua.
La educación continua es vista desde algunos sectores como una actividad de segundo nivel, como un subproducto de la docencia propia de la universidad. Es un grave error pensar que la exigencia de un alto nivel de calidad no es igualmente necesaria en la educación continua, cuando se imparten programas destinados a profesionales, tanto cuando se trata de programas de larga y media duración como en los programas de corta duración de habilidades directivas o de técnicas vinculadas a sectores específicos. Sólo en la medida en que estos programas son consecuencia de un riguroso trabajo previo de preparaciónbasado en la actividad investigadora de la institución, alcanzarán los resultados deseados. De otro modo estaríamos haciendo únicamente una tarea de divulgación y no de educación. Cierto que hay un mercado para productos de divulgación y que, sin duda, permite ofrecer los programas a precios más reducidos, pero una institución de calidad debe mantener una línea firme y coherente en su oferta sin abandonar la exigencia de excelencia en todos los niveles y en todo tipo de programas.
En épocas de crisis es fácil que algunos sectores y responsables académicos, ante el temor de no disponer de audiencia suficiente, estén tentados de querer entrar en guerras de precios para “salvar” sus programas. Hay que asumir que un programa de calidad difícilmente puede ofrecerse a precios “bajos” en relación al mercado en el contexto del cual se realiza. Como decía un antiguo rector de Harvard, “si crees que la excelencia es cara, prueba la mediocridad”. En un sector como el de la educación continua, la crisis afecta con más fuerza a la oferta de baja calidad, aunque sea de bajo precio, que a la oferta de calidad alta, que acaba por imponerse y sobrevivir. La educación continua no es un producto de primera necesidad en relación al cual se antepone la necesidad de consumirlo a cualquier otro factor y el precio se convierte en factor determinante. La educación continua es un producto de valor añadido para quien lo consume y si no añade realmente valor su utilidad es escasa. En este entorno la calidad es un factor más determinante que el precio. Cierto que en una situación de crisis económica la decisión de realizar determinados programas a nivel individual o las decisiones sobre programas de formación por encargo de empresas e instituciones, pueden posponerse y, por tanto, afectar a la cuenta de explotación a corto plazo, pero un centro que aspira a superar las situaciones difíciles y alcanzar un nivel de excelencia debe tener confianza en que una oferta de calidad acaba imponiéndose.
Factor clave de éxito 1: La calidad de un centro de educación continua se basa en la excelencia en investigación de la universidad o institución de educación superior en la que se inscribe.

II. Una fórmula de colaboración Universidad-Empresa

La educación continua forma parte de la tarea de transferencia de conocimiento de la universidad a la sociedad. Un error que algunas universidades han cometido durante bastante tiempo ha sido el de situar la educación continua como un apéndice de la formación habitual de la universidad, como una actividad complementaria que permite ofrecer unos honorarios extra al profesorado. La educación continua es, por el contrario, una línea de formación con entidad propia orientada a los profesionales, con distintos grados de experiencia, y a las empresas e instituciones que necesitan organizar la formación de sus empleados y, en consecuencia, exige dotarse de un modelo propio, tanto desde el punto de vista académico como organizativo de de gestión.
Para un centro de educación continua una cuestión esencial es la orientación al cliente. Para ello hay que saber, sin confundirnos, quienes son los clientes. En algunos sectores académicos los centros de educación continua son vistos como simples gestorías orientadas a dar servicio a los promotores y directores de los programas, como si éstos fueran los clientes a los que debe orientarse la actividad. Todo lo contrario, los clientes son los profesionales que se inscriben a los programas y las empresas e instituciones que confían en el centro la formación de sus empleados. Es por ello que los centros de educación continua deben ofrecer a sus clientes un conjunto de servicios de valor añadido que complementen y refuercen la oferta formativa. Servicios como el impulso y creación de asociaciones de antiguos alumnos, bolsa de trabajo y servicio de carreras profesionales, programas de continuidad, servicios de apoyo para los participantes que proceden de otras ciudades y países son algunos ejemplos de las líneas de trabajo que deben desarrollarse. Los profesores son los proveedores de formación, una pieza clave para garantizar la excelencia de los contenidos formativos y a los que el centro debe asegurar un marco logístico y de servicios que permita ofrecer la formación al más alto nivel de calidad. Saber distinguir bien los roles de cada uno de los agentes que participan en el proceso formativo es fundamental para poder alcanzar buenos resultados.
La actividad formativa de los centros de educación continua no puede realizarse únicamente con el profesorado propio de la universidad o institución en la que se inscribe el centro. Es imprescindible la colaboración de profesionales del mundo de la empresa y de la administración pública, la de profesores de otras universidades y, de modo significativo, la participación de profesionales y académicos de otros países, todo lo cual exige a los centros de educación continua a abrirse a la sociedad y al mundo. Y para ello, establecer líneas de colaboración con los distintos agentes que participan en este entorno resulta imprescindible. De ahí que encontrar las fórmulas adecuadas de organizar la colaboración entre la universidad y las empresas se convierta en una cuestión determinante para alcanzar buenos resultados.
Factor clave de éxito 2: La universidad debe entender que necesita asociarse con los destinatarios finales del producto que ofrece para conseguir, trabajando conjuntamente, que este producto responda a las necesidades de la sociedad a la cual sirve la universidad.

III. Una organización con capacidad de gestión independiente

Consecuentemente con lo anterior, un centro de educación continua debe dotarse de una estructura organizativa propia que le permita, por un lado, plasmar una fórmula de colaboración universidad-empresa acorde con los objetivos propios y, por otro lado, dotarse de una fórmula organizativa y de gestión que le garantice la independencia necesaria para desarrollar adecuadamente su actividad.
Si asumimos que la educación continua es una línea de actividad con entidad propia y que su ejecución requiere dotarse de fórmulas de colaboración con agentes exteriores a la universidad, parece evidente que difícilmente podremos llevar adelante este objetivo sin dotarle de una estructura organizativa propia con responsabilidades claras en cuanto a la gestión de los programas, tanto desde el punto de vista académico como económico.
Un centro de educación continua debe poder responder ante la universidad de sus resultados y ello exige que disponga de las competencias necesarias para poder adoptar todo tipo de decisiones en los distintos ámbitos. Mal podremos exigir responsabilidades a quien no disponga de capacidad para tomar decisiones. Según el carácter público o privado de la universidad, las fórmulas organizativas propias e independencia de gestión se establecerán de un modo u otro, pero resultan imprescindibles en ambos casos. En Europa numerosas universidades públicas recurren a la fórmula de creación de fundaciones privadas con participación empresarial, basadas en el principio de gobernanza y gestión conjuntas, conservando la universidad el control académico (aprobación, acreditación y evaluación de los programas, así como impartición de la docencia con participación de colaboradores externos).
Establecer una adecuada y efectiva división de funciones entre la dirección académica de los programas y la dirección ejecutiva del centro es, sin duda, una de las cuestiones determinantes para alcanzar buenos resultados. Una fórmula de joint vencture en la que cada parte asume las funciones que le son propias es necesaria. El profesor Peter Lorange, del Lorange Institute of Business de Zurich, una de las personalidades más destacadas en el mundo de la formación empresarial, definía este objetivo con una frase muy simple que lo resume de modo preciso: “Faculty and Staff, one team, not separate worlds”.
Factor clave de éxito 3: Los centros de educación continua deben estructurarse con fórmulas de organización independiente con responsabilidades en los ámbitos de la programación, de la organización de la actividad y de la gestión económica.

IV. La internacionalización: un objetivo imprescindible

El escenario en el que actúan las universidades ha roto los límites tradicionales y es hoy el de un mundo globalizado. No hay futuro si no abrimos nuestra actividad a la internacionalización. Y ello en todos los ámbitos.
En primer lugar es necesario diseñar una programación con contenidos que asuman el nuevo escenario en que actuamos y ofrecer una programación creciente en inglés capaz de atra- er a participantes de otros países.
En segundo lugar, incorporando al cuadro académico, profesores procedentes de otros países. La internacionalización del profesorado es un factor imprescindible no solo para la impartición de los programas y contribución a la excelencia de los mismos, sino también como elemento de relación e intercambio con otras instituciones y, en consecuencia, de proyección internacional de la institución
En tercer lugar, extendiendo la actividad del centro a otros países, con activas políticas de intercambio y promoviendo la presencia directa a través de la impartición de programas en el exterior a través de distintas formas de actuación y de colaboración con otras instituciones.
En cuarto lugar, participando activamente en las redes internacionales del sector, como base de relación e intercambio y de fomento de alianzas, factor cada vez más determinante en cualquier proyecto internacional.
Un centro cuya actividad se limita a su entorno más próximo carece de los requisitos necesarios para ser un centro de excelencia. La presencia de participantes internacionales es, asimismo, un factor valorado crecientemente por los potenciales participantes, que esperan encontrar en el programa en que participan, la imprescindible variedad de experiencias y modos diversos de enfocar los problemas, que contribuyan a la calidad del programa. También las empresas e instituciones que encargan programas de formación para sus empleados se hallan inmersas en procesos propios de internacionalización y esperan que la oferta que reciban del centro responda a las nuevas necesidades a las que se enfrentan incorporando un enfoque internacional claro.
Factor clave de éxito 4: La dimensión internacional e internacionalizadora de los centros de educación continua debe reflejarse tanto en su programación, como en su profesorado, en la procedencia de los participantes y en la presencia internacional de sus actividades.

V. La diferenciación como elemento imprescindible para competir

Encontrar el foco de especialización propio es básico para poder ser competitivo. No es posible alcanzar niveles de excelencia en todos los ámbitos. Hay que intentar ser buenos en todo, pero centrar los esfuerzos en ser excelentes en algunos sectores. El prestigio de un centro, su capacidad para ser realmente competitivo, se basa en la capacidad de convertirse en referente en algunos ámbitos. Ser referente quiere decir que los potenciales clientes buscarán al centro porque conocen su existencia, su calidad y su especialización y liderazgo en el sector en el que están interesados.
Para las instituciones que están en una fase inicial de puesta en marcha y penetración en el mercado, seleccionar adecuadamente las opciones de focalización puede ser determinante para poder implantarse y desarrollar el proyecto. Citando nuevamente a Peter Lorange podemos constatar que "focus will become key to survive and prosper". En un entorno fuertemente competitivo y en el que cada vez confluyen un mayor número de ofertas, la capacidad de diferenciación en relación a otras instituciones es imprescindible, incluso para sobrevivir. Para salir adelante es necesario que la oferta del centro pueda ser identificada y reconocida. Al referirnos a diferenciación podemos hacerlo tanto en lo referente a ámbitos académicos, sectores de producción o áreas territoriales hacia los cuales focalizamos la actividad del centro.
Factor clave de éxito 5: La focalización de la programación y la actividad del centro es imprescindible para poder ser identificada y reconocida y alcanzar los niveles de competitividad y referencia que permitan asegurar su viabilidad y desarrollo.

Estos cinco factores son a mí entender claves para el éxito de un centro de educación continua. Podríamos añadir otros o desarrollar alguno de ellos más detalladamente, pero creo que, en su conjunto, sintetizan las características esenciales para alcanzar el éxito.
No quiero terminar sin señalar dos cuestiones que considero esenciales:
La primera de ellas es la necesaria capacidad de los centros de educación continua de ofrecer a los clientes, tanto profesionales individuales como empresas e instituciones, una oferta que pueda desarrollarse en el lugar, en el momento y en la forma en que el cliente lo prefiera. La combinación de formatos presenciales y online, la posibilidad de recibir los cursos en el propio centro o en casa del cliente, en el propio país o en el que se encuentra el centro, en horario de trabajo o en horario libre, sin estar condiciona do por las franjas horarias, en la lengua propia del centro o en inglés, como lengua franca de uso generalizado, todo ello configura lo que realmente debe ser una oferta de educación continua que aspire a ser competitiva.
La segunda es que un centro de educación continua debe contar con un fuerte apoyo, al más alto nivel, de la institución de la que forma parte, considerándolo un elemento clave de la estrategia general y vertebradora de la universidad o institución, contrariamente a las actitudes que consideran la educación continua como un producto marginal. Los centros de educación continua, a través de la programación que desarrollan, de las alianzas empresariales e internacionales que establecen, de los antiguos alumnos que surgen de sus programas y, en general, de los servicios y productos que ofrecen, son y lo serán de modo más determinante en los próximos años, uno de los factores decisivos de diferenciación y prestigio de las universidades e instituciones de las que forman parte. Apostar por ellos y darles el apoyo institucional que necesitan es, por tanto, una opción que revertirá positivamente en un plazo no lejano.

Posté par pcassuto à 00:03 - - Permalien [#]


30 janvier 2012

Selecting the Right Chinese Students

http://chronicle.com/img/subscribe_11_2011.jpgBy Jiang Xueqin. You may have seen him on campus. He's a Chinese student who aced his SAT's, but once enrolled as a freshman he sits quietly by himself either in the library cubicle or at the back of the class. He has only Chinese friends, and thinks sports and parties are beneath him. Day by day, he misses China, and is uninterested in America. And year by year he multiplies on American campuses.
He's in America because he wants a college degree, and because his American college wants his money. But in this marriage of convenience, both parties suffer.

Much of the problem lies in how American admissions officers use hard numbers (standardized test scores) to evaluate Chinese students, and discount soft skills. The hard numbers may determine if a Chinese will excel as a student, but it's the soft skills that will determine if he or she thrives as a member of your campus community.
I have been working in and studying Chinese education since 1999 when I graduated from Yale, and for the past three years I have been working as a curriculum director in two prestigious public high schools in China preparing Chinese students for study in America. Even though our students are some of the brightest in the country, they have struggled to adapt to the Western classroom as much as their peers from less elite schools. Initially, I thought the American college-admissions process could evaluate the Chinese students best suited for study in America, but I've slowly become disillusioned with how American admissions officers select students based almost exclusively on hard numbers. This practice, I believe, benefits mainly the rote learners who thrive in China's schools, and hurts the thoughtful students who have the potential to be transformed by a rigorous American liberal-arts education and who, in turn, may transform the lives of their fellow students and professors.
To be fair, American college recruiters in China feel overwhelmed by the proliferation of cheating, lying, and fraud: Study abroad is big business in China, and young Ivy League graduates write essays for Chinese applicants while many a Chinese public school fakes transcripts and recommendation letters. Amid such chaos, it's understandable why American colleges fall back on standardized tests. But these tests tell only half the story. To really judge a Chinese student's potential to thrive on campus, American colleges and universities could add depth to the admissions process by including an oral interview, one designed to challenge Chinese students with focused questions that test their empathy, imagination, and resilience. Those American colleges that choose to do so will discover that their new Chinese recruits, even though their test scores may suggest limited English, will quickly adapt to a culture of critical thinking and intellectual inquiry in a way they failed to adapt to the Chinese education system of obedience and conformity.
To better understand how this oral interview would work in the admissions process, let's look at David and Michael, two Chinese applicants who are composites of students I've taught and who are now studying in America. David has an average GPA, a B, scored about 2000 out of 2400 on his SAT Reasoning Test, and was editor of his school's newspaper for two years. Michael has the highest GPA in his ultracompetitive high school, scored around 2300 on the SAT, got a 5 on the English Advanced Placement examination, and started his own business.
Michael is a student many American campuses would love to have, and he's set on the Ivy League (Duke is his safety school). But ultimately it doesn't matter where he goes, because he'll take courses that will ensure him a 4.0 GPA and get into a good business school. He'll be shocked that not everyone shares his passion for grades, and he'll attribute that to American shallowness. He'll drop history class because he got an A- on his first paper, and after a month on campus he'll shelter himself in his small circle of Chinese friends. After four years, he'll leave the campus very much the way he arrived.
Unlike Michael, David won't be a straight-A student. He plans to be an architect because he loves drawing, but he'll also try history and literature classes. He'll struggle to keep pace in seminar discussions, but he'll replay class discussions in his head, and one or two comments may linger with him for days. And one day he'll surprise his classmates and professors with a comment that will linger with them for days. Over the dinner-table he'll pepper his classmates with questions, and he won't graduate from college with his life all planned out like Michael. What he will graduate with is a lot of questions about himself and life, and his four years on campus he'll remember forever as a time of his intellectual blossoming.
If Michael happens to be the ideal, then American colleges and universities are in luck because Michaels abound in China. But David is much less common because the three traits he possesses empathy, imagination, and resilience are strangled at a young age in China.
That's why the toughest question you can ask a Chinese student is also the easiest you can ask an American: "What do you think?" Many Chinese students don't know what they think because their parents and teachers just order them about. Their education alienates them from one another, from the world in which they live, and ultimately from themselves. Unable to construct a self-narrative, they may live comfortably in their bubble but have problems overcoming new challenges. In short, a Chinese education does not prepare most students to study abroad.
And it's easy to figure this out in a 30-minute interview, which must become a mandatory part of the application process if American colleges and universities are to recruit Chinese students who will thrive on campus.
Here's how to conduct the interview. First, it ought to be focused, detailed, and deliberate. Here are some examples of good interview questions that look for empathy, imagination, and resilience:
* Pick a novel or a movie, and discuss the characters. Which character did you identify with? Why? Which part of the book or movie made you sad? Made you angry? Why? What experiences have you had that remind you of events in the book or movie?
* Pick a memorable experience, and explain why it was so memorable. Tell the story. Explain your feelings during the experience. Why did you have these feelings? Do you know anyone either real or fictional who has had a similar experience? Did they behave the same as you did? Do you think their feelings were the same as yours?
* When was the last time you were angry or sad? What made you angry or sad? How did you get over your anger or sadness? What do you think will happen the next time you encounter the same situation?
Persist in asking "why?" Look for sincerity, for logic, and for clarity of thought.
In English class, my Chinese students and I read English novels together, and I use these lines of questioning in class. What's frustrating is that while I'm trying to get them to look into themselves, they're always trying to "read" me for the "right" answer. I persist because teaching these students to relate themselves to the text is crucial in the reconstruction of their lost selves, as well as a fundamental skill they'll need to thrive on the American campus.
As you may suspect, David is far more comfortable in my class than Michael.
In a 30-minute interview, David would talk about his experience editing the school's newspaper, how he was the last one out of the newsroom to make sure the papers got printed, how he had to prod his reporters to take on assignments, and how he had to think of ways to build team spirit among a group of high-achieving individuals.
Michael might talk fast and fluently about his business venture, but he wouldn't be clear and direct. Ask him which college he'd like to attend, and he couldn't give you a straight answer either. It'd be an uncomfortable interview because what he wants to say he can't: that he started his business to pad his résumé but that his real passions are increasing his GPA and SAT score; that he hasn't really thought about which college he'd like to attend because he plans to attend the most highly-ranked; that he's the one talking but it's really his parents who are pulling the strings.
An interview may not capture everything you want to know about these students. But it would be a start in the right direction, and that's exactly what American recruiting efforts in China need right now.
Jiang Xueqin is deputy principal of Peking University High School, and director of its international division.

Posté par pcassuto à 22:43 - - Permalien [#]

'Gainful' Comes to the Nonprofits

http://www.insidehighered.com/sites/all/themes/ihecustom/logo.jpgBy Libby A. Nelson. Obama higher education plan signals policy
After the applause faded from President Obama’s State of the Union address, a question lingered: Obama told colleges they were "on notice," but what does “on notice” mean, anyway?
Friday provided a few answers.
In a speech at the University of Michigan, the president laid out a plan for higher education that could be a key plank of his re-election campaign this year. Obama proposed using campus-based financial aid programs to reward colleges that keep net price low and punish those that  do not. Two new competitions, modeled on the administration’s “Race to the Top” program for elementary and secondary education, would reward states that invest in higher education and colleges and nonprofit groups that improve productivity. A host of new disclosure forms would give students more information on price and financial aid.
On one level, the plan is  an election year crowd-pleaser, an appeal to middle-class voters who feel college for their children is increasingly out of reach. But it also signals a shift in the administration’s higher education policy, which until now has focused on reining in for-profit colleges and increasing financial aid for low-income students.
The plan calls for linking federal aid not only to net price increases but to whether colleges provide “good value” to students -- a “quality education and training that prepares graduates to obtain employment and repay their loans,” the White House wrote.
If that sounds familiar, it’s for good reason. A similar philosophy guided the Education Department’s controversial and much-protested "gainful employment" rule, which judges the value of for-profit colleges and vocational programs based on on whether they prepare their students for “gainful employment” by looking at student loan repayment rates.
The real message in “on notice”: Increased scrutiny and regulation aren’t just for for-profit colleges anymore.
“They’re sending a strong signal about where the second Obama administration, if we have one, is likely to go,” said Kevin Carey, policy director at Education Sector, a think tank. “They’re not going to just keep putting millions of dollars into the Pell Grant Program and letting the chips fall where they may.”
The president’s higher education plan appears poised to become a major feature of his re-election campaign, alongside support for manufacturing, clean energy and other ideas intended to help shore up the troubled economy.
The plan’s central feature is a change to the campus-based Perkins Loan Program, which provides funds to institutions to lend to their students. The White House has proposed expanding the program to $10 billion per year and revamping the formula for distributing both Perkins loans and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants. Money would be directed to colleges that do well on three criteria: setting a “responsible tuition policy,” providing “good value” to students, and enrolling and graduating relatively large numbers of low-income students. Colleges that do not meet those standards could see their funding for campus-based programs cut.
The plan also would create a $1 billion “Race to the Top” competition for college affordability and completion. The money would serve as an incentive for states to maintain funding on higher education, the administration said. A second competition, called “First in the World,” would provide up to $55 million for colleges or nonprofit organizations to improve productivity.
“If you can find new ways to bring down the cost of college and make it easier for more students to graduate, we’ll help you do it,” Obama said, referring to the states, in his speech at Michigan.
Many higher education experts and college groups were skeptical of Obama’s plan when it was first proposed, in broad strokes, during the State of the Union address Tuesday night. Reactions from the major higher education associations after his speech Friday were tempered. Most praised the president for his proposals to expand work-study programs and Perkins loans: “If approved by Congress, it would provide an enormous amount of money to help students and families,” Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, said in a statement. “Colleges and universities stand ready to do everything they can to help enhance student access and completion.”
But they also pushed back strongly on additional federal involvement, especially in measuring the value of a college education or trying to force universities to keep prices low: “Colleges, states, and the federal government must work together in a climate of mutual trust and collaboration,” David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said in a statement. “The answer is not going to come from more federal controls on colleges or states, or by telling families to judge the value of an education by the amount young graduates earn in the first few years after they graduate.”
(Responses from individual college presidents were less measured. Michael Young, president of the University of Washington, called Obama’s plan “nonsense on stilts” and “political theater of the worst sort,” according to the Associated Press.)
All noted that important questions remained. For public universities, state support is key: so far, it’s unclear how the Race to the Top competition would function, and whether it would be enough of a reward to spur states into increasing support. Tuition increases at public colleges and universities have been driven largely by declining state support, which Obama noted in his speech Friday and many higher education leaders reiterated.
“I think it’ll be very hard to sustain holding tuition to inflation if the states can’t keep their side of the bargain,” M. Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, said in an interview. “Affordability for publics is fundamentally a question of state appropriations.”
The Race to the Top for elementary and secondary education required states to make policy changes before they could even be eligible to enter the competition. But whether the competition for higher education will work that way, and what changes might be required, is unclear, said Andrew Kelly, a research fellow in education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
“It sounds like what they’re getting at is a maintenance of effort,” Kelly said, referring to requirements to keep funding above certain levels to remain eligible for federal funds. But maintenance of effort requirements, including some related to higher education, have foundered in the past because the amount of federal funding at risk pales in comparison to state budget shortfalls. “What would the prerequisites even look like?” Kelly said. “I don’t think anybody knows.”
Education Department officials said more details will be released with the budget request for fiscal year 2013, which will provide information on how the administration plans to pay for the expanded Perkins loans, the two competitions and other factors of the plan. Obama has called on Congress to act on other parts of his higher education agenda immediately, including stopping the interest rate on subsidized student loans from doubling in July. The Democratic-led Congress cut the interest rate in half in 2007, with the knowledge that it would reset to the higher 6.8 percent rate without action (and available funds) to stop it, as Republican critics of Obama's new plan have been quick to note.
Still, given the Congressional deadlock, it’s unclear whether any part of the plan will face a vote in the near future. And some provisions, especially the proposal to measure the “value” of degree programs, might require additional legislation, Kelly said. The regulation of for-profit colleges hinged on a brief phrase in the Higher Education Act: for-profit colleges, and programs not in the liberal arts, must prepare students for “gainful employment in a recognized occupation.” There is no such basis for regulating traditional degree programs.
In a way, using similar criteria makes sense, Carey said: after all, even students studying art history or philosophy are attending college because they hope to get a job. “The president has kind of taken on the lenders and the for-profits and won significant victories, and he’s now turning his attention to the traditional sector,” Carey said. “They’ve been treating the symptoms of rising college prices, but they haven’t really tackled it as a problem.”
But some critics said that shift in focus takes away from what was seen as the administration’s primary goal: enrolling and graduating more low-income students. Further expansions to the Pell Grant Program would do more to make college accessible, said Sara Goldrick-Rab, an associate professor of higher education policy at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
“I don’t have high hopes for [the new plan] being very effective in helping him achieve what I thought his goal was, which is getting more students from low-income families to be college graduates,” Goldrick-Rab said, describing the plan as “a little all over the place.”
“This is going to cause problems for the institutions that have the least resources to begin with.”
Goldrick-Rab said she saw the plan largely as an election-year attempt to appeal to the middle class. But given the unlikelihood of major change this year -- and the fact that a second Obama term would also include the 2013 scheduled reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, an anticipated vehicle for many of the new policy proposals -- its ramifications are likely to linger long beyond 2012.
“This is setting a new agenda, and I think it’s easy to underestimate that this is an important shift in the dialogue,” Kelly said. The new conversation is about using incentives to force colleges to change, rather than just funding grants for low-income students, he said. “That’s a fundamentally different agenda than we’ve had in the past, even within this administration.”
Open Letter to the President
Robert Sternberg offers 10 suggestions to the Obama administration as it pursues higher education reform -- including patience and respecting institutional differences.

Posté par pcassuto à 22:30 - - Permalien [#]

22 janvier 2012

What You (Really) Need to Know

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/nytlogo152x23.gifBy Lawrence H. Summers. A PARADOX of American higher education is this: The expectations of leading universities do much to define what secondary schools teach, and much to establish a template for what it means to be an educated man or woman. College campuses are seen as the source for the newest thinking and for the generation of new ideas, as society’s cutting edge.
And the world is changing very rapidly. Think social networking, gay marriage, stem cells or the rise of China. Most companies look nothing like they did 50 years ago. Think General Motors, AT&T or Goldman Sachs.
Yet undergraduate education changes remarkably little over time. My immediate predecessor as Harvard president, Derek Bok, famously compared the difficulty of reforming a curriculum with the difficulty of moving a cemetery. With few exceptions, just as in the middle of the 20th century, students take four courses a term, each meeting for about three hours a week, usually with a teacher standing in front of the room. Students are evaluated on the basis of examination essays handwritten in blue books and relatively short research papers. Instructors are organized into departments, most of which bear the same names they did when the grandparents of today’s students were undergraduates. A vast majority of students still major in one or two disciplines centered on a particular department.
It may be that inertia is appropriate. Part of universities’ function is to keep alive man’s greatest creations, passing them from generation to generation. Certainly anyone urging reform does well to remember that in higher education the United States remains an example to the world, and that American universities compete for foreign students more successfully than almost any other American industry competes for foreign customers.
Nonetheless, it is interesting to speculate: Suppose the educational system is drastically altered to reflect the structure of society and what we now understand about how people learn. How will what universities teach be different? Here are some guesses and hopes.
1.
Education will be more about how to process and use information and less about imparting it. This is a consequence of both the proliferation of knowledge — and how much of it any student can truly absorb — and changes in technology. Before the printing press, scholars had to memorize “The Canterbury Tales” to have continuing access to them. This seems a bit ludicrous to us today. But in a world where the entire Library of Congress will soon be accessible on a mobile device with search procedures that are vastly better than any card catalog, factual mastery will become less and less important.
2.
An inevitable consequence of the knowledge explosion is that tasks will be carried out with far more collaboration. As just one example, the fraction of economics papers that are co-authored has more than doubled in the 30 years that I have been an economist. More significant, collaboration is a much greater part of what workers do, what businesses do and what governments do. Yet the great preponderance of work a student does is done alone at every level in the educational system. Indeed, excessive collaboration with others goes by the name of cheating.
For most people, school is the last time they will be evaluated on individual effort. One leading investment bank has a hiring process in which a candidate must interview with upward of 60 senior members of the firm before receiving an offer. What is the most important attribute they’re looking for? Not GMAT scores or college transcripts, but the ability to work with others. As greater value is placed on collaboration, surely it should be practiced more in our nation’s classrooms.
3.
New technologies will profoundly alter the way knowledge is conveyed. Electronic readers allow textbooks to be constantly revised, and to incorporate audio and visual effects. Think of a music text in which you can hear pieces of music as you read, or a history text in which you can see film clips about what you are reading. But there are more profound changes set in train. There was a time when professors had to prepare materials for their students. Then it became clear that it would be a better system if textbooks were written by just a few of the most able: faculty members would be freed up and materials would be improved, as competition drove up textbook quality.
Similarly, it makes sense for students to watch video of the clearest calculus teacher or the most lucid analyst of the Revolutionary War rather than having thousands of separate efforts. Professors will have more time for direct discussion with students — not to mention the cost savings — and material will be better presented. In a 2008 survey of first- and second-year medical students at Harvard, those who used accelerated video lectures reported being more focused and learning more material faster than when they attended lectures in person.
4. As articulated by the Nobel Prize-winner Daniel Kahneman in “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” we understand the processes of human thought much better than we once did. We are not rational calculating machines but collections of modules, each programmed to be adroit at a particular set of tasks. Not everyone learns most effectively in the same way. And yet in the face of all evidence, we rely almost entirely on passive learning. Students listen to lectures or they read and then are evaluated on the basis of their ability to demonstrate content mastery. They aren’t asked to actively use the knowledge they are acquiring.
“Active learning classrooms” — which cluster students at tables, with furniture that can be rearranged and integrated technology — help professors interact with their students through the use of media and collaborative experiences. Still, with the capacity of modern information technology, there is much more that can be done to promote dynamic learning.
5.
The world is much more open, and events abroad affect the lives of Americans more than ever before. This makes it essential that the educational experience breed cosmopolitanism — that students have international experiences, and classes in the social sciences draw on examples from around the world. It seems logical, too, that more in the way of language study be expected of students. I am not so sure.
English’s emergence as the global language, along with the rapid progress in machine translation and the fragmentation of languages spoken around the world, make it less clear that the substantial investment necessary to speak a foreign tongue is universally worthwhile. While there is no gainsaying the insights that come from mastering a language, it will over time become less essential in doing business in Asia, treating patients in Africa or helping resolve conflicts in the Middle East.
6.
Courses of study will place much more emphasis on the analysis of data. Gen. George Marshall famously told a Princeton commencement audience that it was impossible to think seriously about the future of postwar Europe without giving close attention to Thucydides on the Peloponnesian War. Of course, we’ll always learn from history. But the capacity for analysis beyond simple reflection has greatly increased (consider Gen. David Petraeus’s reliance on social science in preparing the army’s counterinsurgency manual).
As the “Moneyball” story aptly displays in the world of baseball, the marshalling of data to test presumptions and locate paths to success is transforming almost every aspect of human life. It is not possible to make judgments about one’s own medical care without some understanding of probability, and certainly the financial crisis speaks to the consequences of the failure to appreciate “black swan events” and their significance. In an earlier era, when many people were involved in surveying land, it made sense to require that almost every student entering a top college know something of trigonometry. Today, a basic grounding in probability statistics and decision analysis makes far more sense.
A good rule of thumb for many things in life holds that things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then happen faster than you thought they could. Think, for example, of the widespread use of the e-book, or the coming home to roost of debt problems around the industrialized world. Here is a bet and a hope that the next quarter century will see more change in higher education than the last three combined.
Lawrence H. Summers is former president of Harvard University and former secretary of the Treasury. This essay is based on a speech Dr. Summers gave at The New York Times’s Schools for Tomorrow conference.

Posté par pcassuto à 14:41 - - Permalien [#]

03 décembre 2011

Billions to Non-Needy Students

By Richard Kahlenberg. Last week, Jon Marcus of the Hechinger Report wrote about the billions of dollars in federal and university aid that goes to students who would likely attend college without it.  His article, a version of which appeared on the front page of USA Today under the headline “$5.3B goes to students who government says don’t need it,” centered around the rise in non-need institutional merit aid and the ballooning federal tax breaks which go to families earning up to $180,000 per year.  “It just doesn’t make any sense,” one low-income student told Marcus.  “You don’t give the bloated guy the cheeseburger when the starving man is starving.”
Several new research reports underline the disturbing trends.  In addition to the College Board’s “Trends in Student Aid 2011,” which finds that institutions are providing more than $5-billion in non-need based aid, the National Center for Education Statistics recently reported that non-need institutional merit aid from four-year public and private colleges has surpassed need-based institutional aid, a reversal of the earlier emphasis on need.
On the federal level, the College Board’s Trends report found that roughly $4-billion goes in the form of tax credits and deductions to families with adjusted gross incomes between $100,000 and $180,000 a year.  (The total cost of the tax breaks was $14.7-billion in 2009.)
Ironically, the big subsidies to relatively well-off families first originated under the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton. Clinton’s Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, a Wall Street financier not known as a wide-eyed radical, advised Clinton at the time that increasing grant aid would provide a better-targeted method of expanding higher-education access.  But tax credits were seen as more politically viable, both because they benefit more powerful constituencies and because tax cuts are symbolically associated with shrinking government.  A 2003 National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper by Bridget Terry Long vindicated Rubin’s position, finding that the Clinton higher education tax breaks did not broaden access to post-secondary education.
Yet the program has continued to grow.  According to a new National Center for Education Statistics report, “Federal Education Tax Benefits,” in 2007-8 college tax benefits went to 47 percent of American undergraduates, compared with 27 percent receiving Pell grants.  Since then, the Obama administration has expanded tax breaks both up and down the income ladder–raising eligibility levels to $180,000 but also making the tax break refundable, which benefits lower-income families who don’t owe federal taxes.
Critics rightly worry that the growing tax breaks are problematic on two grounds.  Because they are built into the tax code, they don’t have to go through the discipline of surviving the regular annual appropriations process.  And tax breaks for those in the $100,000 to $180,000 range, more than double the median family income, don’t usually tip the balance for students deciding whether to attend college.
The silent and automatic nature of the tax breaks make my Innovations Blog colleagues Sandy Baum and Michael McPherson ask why there isn’t more “scrutiny in this age of attempted austerity” for “government expenditure through the tax code.”  Likewise, Sara Goldrick-Rab of the University of Wisconsin notes that tax credits for better-off families provide “extra money to make sure they can have a vacation that year, or they can buy another TV or a nicer car,” but “it is not for putting food on the table, and it’s not paying the heating bill, and it’s not deciding whether or not the kid goes to college.”
This state of affairs is aggravating for those of us think that the public interest in funding student aid for higher education–the reason we all pay for other people’s kids to go to school–is strongest when that aid makes the difference between attending and not attending.  The frustration is compounded when important access programs for working-class and low-income students are taking deep cuts. A number of years ago, higher education authorities Arthur Hauptman and Michael Timpane suggested (in a book I edited) that proportionally more funding should be allocated to programs like TRIO and GEAR-UP, which support academic preparation and transition to college.  Yet it is precisely these programs–which together in FY 2011 spent $1.1-billion–that have been subject to intense cuts during the Obama years.  Couldn’t some of the $4-billion in federal tax breaks to relatively wealthy families be shifted to protect these types of programs?
I understand that families making nearly $180,000 wield more political power than those who are eligible for programs like TRIO, but at what point does it become embarrassing to policymakers to keep feeding the bloated guy when the starving man is hungry?

Posté par pcassuto à 18:23 - - Permalien [#]

30 octobre 2011

¿Quién debe pagar por la educación?

http://chronicle.com/img/photos/biz/icons/worldwise-nameplate.gifBy Francisco Marmolejo. Las recientes demostraciones estudiantiles en Chile y Colombia son motivo de preocupación de sus respectivos gobiernos. En el centro del debate se plantea una interrogante simple para la cual no existe una respuesta sencilla: ¿quién se supone que debe pagar por la educación de los habitantes de un país?, ¿deben pagar los propios estudiantes y sus familias o el gobierno?, ¿debe ofrecerse subsidio directo  a los estudiantes o deben ser las instituciones de educación superior las que reciban el soporte del Estado para con ello hacer más accesible la educación?

En cierto sentido, tanto el caso chileno como el colombiano han seguido trayectorias diferentes en lo referente al desarrollo de sus respectivos sistemas de educación superior, aunque en ambos casos existe similitud en cuanto a las huelgas y demostraciones estudiantiles que, sin lugar a dudas, tienen nerviosos a sus gobiernos nacionales y también a los gobiernos de países vecinos.
En el caso de Chile, la liberalización masiva de su sistema de educación superior que se ha experimentado en años recientes y que ha estado acompañada de una limitada inversión pública, al final de cuentas se ha traducido en un impresionante crecimiento de la infraestructura de educación superior a nivel nacional y en un incremento significativo en el número de chilenos con acceso a la educación superior (actualmente un 51 por ciento de jóvenes en edad de estudiar). En ello ha tenido mucho que ver la oferta de las instituciones particulares. En este contexto el gobierno ha permitido que las instituciones de educación superior cobren altas cuotas y colegiaturas, ofreciendo al mismo tiempo mecanismos público/privados de ayuda financiera que permiten a la mayoría de los alumnos contar con recursos financieros para contribuir a pagar sus estudios. Al mismo tiempo, el gobierno chileno ha mantenido en operación un programa que condona los pagos de cuotas y colegiaturas a estudiantes que hayan tenido las mejores calificaciones en el examen nacional de ingreso a la educación superior, conocido coloquialmente como la PSU. Además, el gobierno conserva desde hace varios años un esquema de otorgamiento de subsidios a un pequeño grupo de 25 universidades tanto públicas como privadas que pertenecen al selectivo Consejo de Rectores de las Universidades de Chile (CRUCH).
Naturalmente que el crecimiento en la educación superior de Chile no ha estado exento de problemas. Un aspecto a destacar es que al concluir su formación universitaria, la gran mayoría de los chilenos que estudian se quedan con un significativo adeudo monetario producto de los créditos educativos que tienen que contraer para financiar su educación, mientras que el generoso programa de condonación de cuotas y colegiaturas para los mejores estudiantes suele beneficiar, entre otros, a aquellos que provienen de familias con mayores recursos económicos dado que son quienes estuvieron mejor preparados por haber estudiado los niveles previos de la educación en escuelas privadas que se caracterizan por tener mejor calidad que las públicas. En otras palabras, tal pareciera que recursos de los contribuyentes terminan siendo utilizados para subsidiar a aquellos que menos necesitan de tal apoyo, mientras que el resto de la población estudiantil debe asumir una deuda proporcionalmente mayor para financiar sus estudios superiores. Finalmente, en años recientes, han emergido una amplia gama de instituciones de educación superior privadas con fines de lucro que, aun cuando están debidamente acreditadas y ofrecen una educación similar en calidad a otras instituciones públicas, sin embargo se han convertido en un blanco natural de ataque para quienes han estado demostrando su inconformidad en las calles.
El caso colombiano es en cierto sentido diferente, considerando que cuenta con un sistema de educación superior pequeño y selectivo que no ha logrado crecer al mismo ritmo que las tendencias demográficas del país, lo que ha llevado a que anualmente solo un pequeño porcentaje de los cerca de 600,000 jóvenes egresados de la educación media superior  logren avanzar al nivel de educación superior. Preocupado por este importante reto, el gobierno del Presidente Juan Manuel Santos decidió embarcarse en una radical reforma del sistema nacional de educación superior encaminada, entre otras cosas, a incrementar significativamente la cobertura del sistema con la meta de pasar de atender al 37 por ciento de jóvenes en edad de estudiar que se tiene actualmente, a un ambicioso 50 por ciento en el año 2014. Para contribuir a financiar tal crecimiento, el gobierno colombiano inicialmente planteó la idea de permitir la participación de oferentes privados incluyendo aquellos con fines de lucro tanto nacionales como del extranjero. Sin embargo, debido a la presión de diversos sectores preocupados por las implicaciones de una supuesta privatización de la educación superior, el gobierno decidió eliminar esta posibilidad en la versión de un proyecto de reforma a la ley de educación superior que actualmente se discute en el Congreso de la República de Colombia.
Para algunos sectores de nuestras sociedades la respuesta a tales dilemas es muy sencilla: la educación es un derecho humano básico y, en consecuencia, los gobiernos (y por ende los contribuyentes de impuestos) deben asumir el costo de la provisión de educación superior haciéndola accesible a un mínimo costo o gratis a los estudiantes independientemente de su estatus socio-económico. También, muchos argumentan que las políticas de admisión a las instituciones de educación superior deben ser más flexibles y que se deben dedicar fuertes cantidades de inversión gubernamental para financiar la infraestructura y operaciones de las instituciones de educación superior públicas. En contraste, otros sectores consideran que el enfoque descrito anteriormente simple y sencillamente no es viable en el largo plazo y que, en lugar de subsidiar directamente a las instituciones educativas, los gobiernos deben ofrecer más becas y créditos directamente a los estudiantes con base en fórmulas que resulten de una combinación entre la necesidad económica del estudiante y sus méritos académicos. También ellos argumentan que la participación de oferentes privados en la educación –incluyendo las entidades con fines de lucro- debe ser aceptada para propiciar una sana competencia y para mejorar la eficiencia institucional, asumiendo que tal apertura esté debidamente regulada y vigilada.
Todos los anteriores son algunos de los temas que están siendo debatidos no sólo en Chile y Colombia, sino también en muchos países. Conversando el tema con mi colega Dewayne Matthews, de la Fundación Lumina, éste me advierte que el reto que enfrentan muchos países es cómo ofrecer educación de calidad a un número mucho mayor de estudiantes sabiendo que incrementar la capacidad institucional no es algo que se pueda lograr rápidamente y por decreto, especialmente en los tiempos que se viven con necesidades ilimitadas y recursos financieros limitados. Esto implica para los gobiernos que deciden invertir en la educación, enfrentar el dilema de en qué otras prioridades igualmente importantes hay que dejar de invertir. También queda cada vez más claro que la implementación de reformas, necesariamente afectará el status-quo prevalente en los sistemas de educación superior. En resumen, nos encontramos frente a una realidad compleja para la que no existen respuestas simples.
Al final de cuentas lo que ha estado sucediendo en Chile y Colombia pone en la mesa de la discusión la pregunta fundamental que nuestras sociedades enfrentan en el mundo actual: ¿Es la educación superior un bien público o privado y, consecuentemente, quien debe pagar por ella?. La moneda está en el aire.

Posté par pcassuto à 00:23 - - Permalien [#]