By Chrissie Long. Member states of Latin America's left-leaning political bloc known as Alba are organising to create an integrated higher education system. The eight participating nations aim to pool resources with a view to strengthening their universities. But the initiative, which has a strong socialist and anti-US agenda, has come in for widespread criticism.
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, or Alba (ALianza Bolivariana para los pueblos de nuestra América) - which includes among others the governments of Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Cuba - was founded by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in December 2004. The alliance's higher education integration initiative was announced in Nicaragua in June and emphasises strengthening universities and sharing advances made with each of the member countries. But while pooling resources in higher education is a positive step, according to Kevin Casas Zamora (pictured), a former Costa Rican vice-president and political analyst with the Brookings Institution, it is dangerous when linked to a political agenda.
"What Latin America needs are not politically committed universities but, above all, good universities capable of producing good-quality science and stimulating genuinely open debates about reality," Casas Zamora said. "The last thing we need is political parties disguised as universities."
He added: "Universities are about seeking the truth, which may well be very different from your ideological preconceptions." Traditionally, Alba initiatives have been aimed at strengthening the economic ties among member nations and developing the region financially, but the alliance's dialogue has always been laced with political rhetoric.
In 2006 the consortium of governments created its own currency - the Sucre (in English standing for 'Unified System for Regional Compensation') - and announced plans for trade agreements "as a front to the free trade agreements and taxes of the United States that cause unemployment and marginalisation of our people", the Alba website reads. Leaders of the university integration initiative, which is being called Unialba, hope for a shared network of universities which will offer a platform for exchange and mobility for university students and professors, combine resources in investigation and unite the achievements and greatest minds within member countries.
Speaking last year to the Juventud Rebelde, a newspaper for youth in Cuba, the Cuban Deputy Minister for Higher Education Aurora Fernandez said that the university network "will be a giant learning community, with venues in each Alba member country where students will have the opportunity to access higher education - something that has previously been a privilege only enjoyed by the economic elites." Immediate challenges to the integration effort are streamlining curricula and ensuring that member universities are meeting agreed-upon benchmarks, said Rubén Reinoso, the Venezuelan Vice-minister for academic development in the University Education Ministry.
"As you know, universities have different curricula and career paths...we need to harmonise these programmes and our research projects, so that we are on the same page," he said. Guillermo Bernaza, a representative of the Higher Education Ministry in Cuba, said the move to integrate higher education is key in terms of Alba unification. "This is a fundamental social pillar in united development and cooperation between our nations...Only in this manner can we be free, independent, successful and with our own identity."
More Latin American students are going abroad, largely to the United States, to study (although their numbers still lag way behind students from Asia), and governments across the continent are using some of their newfound wealth to increase the numbers further through generous scholarship programs. In addition to Brazil, nations as diverse as Chile and El Salvador have offered or are planning to offer new incentives to get their students into foreign programs. "They are all trying to increase dramatically the number of students they send abroad," said Samir Zaveri, international operations director for BMI, a company that organizes education fairs in Latin America. "The idea is that they come back with more skills and help the economy and help with its growth, especially in areas where there are shortages."
That is especially clear in Brazil, the biggest country in South America and the world's seventh largest economy. Brazil is growing fast, but it struggles to find the researchers, engineers, and highly skilled workers to maintain that growth. The 75,000 scholarships offered by the government of President Dilma Rousseff, as well as an additional 25,000 slated to come from the private sector, are exclusive to fields of national interest such as science, technology, and engineering. They will come from the federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (Capes) and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). "Capes will manage 40,000 scholarships, and CNPq will manage 35,000 scholarships," said Denise Neddermeyer, director of international affairs for Capes. The other 25,000 scholarships "will cover areas with an important technological impact, such as engineering, hard science, mathematics, energy, sustainable development, environment, biotechnology, and health." That focus is shared by governments across the region, large and small. El Salvador, for example, created a vice ministry of science and technology in 2009.
The Central American nation provides 35 scholarships a year for students to study abroad, but it is planning to add another 150 to that number over the next three years, said José Marroquin, the engineer in charge of Becas Fantel, the government's main scholarship program. The additional places are for students pursuing subjects important to the country, such as environment and health. Ecuador this month announced its most ambitious scholarship program yet, with the aim of sending more than 1,000 students abroad, while Colombia will send more people overseas in 2011 than in the 18 previous years put together. And Chile plans to offer 30,000 scholarships by 2018 through a program called Becas Chile. The $6-billion scheme was started by former President Michelle Bachelet in 2008 and replaced the smaller President of the Republic scholarships. Like in many other national scholarship programs, those who win Becas Chile scholarships sign a contract agreeing to return home after completing their studies and work for "the good of the country." Its sheer size has proved a particular boon to less-well-off students.
"One new student who just came here is from the south of Chile, and five or six years ago that would have been impossible," said Cristian Castro, a Chilean student earning a doctorate in history at the University of California at Davis. "The best thing that Michelle Bachelet did was to democratize it. People who never imagined leaving the country can now do so."
One key factor in making this all possible is that Latin American governments have huge reserves of foreign currency thanks to the worldwide thirst for commodities like copper, iron ore, soy beans, and sugar. Grants given to Latin American students on Fulbright programs tripled to $21-million in 2010, from $7.5-million in 2000, said Jenny Verdaguer, branch chief for Fulbright Western Hemisphere programs.
The leading contributors today are Chile and Brazil, two of the fastest growing countries in the hemisphere. They replace Mexico and Argentina, two nations that underwent harsh economic times during the last decade. Not coincidentally, new programs are being discussed with Panama, Paraguay, and Peru, economies that grew 7.5 percent, 15.3 percent, and 8.8 percent respectively in 2010. "I think that the willingness of governments to send students abroad is predicated on their economic resources, and if they have that they can dream large," Ms. Verdaguer said in a telephone interview from Washington. The increased investment in Fulbright programs "is very much a function of improved economic conditions in the region," she added.
While continued economic growth would thus appear to be a prerequisite for longer-term continuance of the scholarships schemes, there are other obstacles, not least of which is the commitment of Latin governments to actually carry out such grandiose plans. Other issues include how readily their foreign degrees will be accepted at home—Brazilians getting doctorates abroad must go through a lengthy process to validate their qualification—as well as ensuring that students come back and share their knowledge, as stipulated in their contracts. "It is hard to oblige people to pay it back if they don't want to," said Ian Whitman, author of an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report on the Becas Chile program. "They want them to come home but come home to what? Research institutes without a test tube or a microscope? In the case of Chile, we recommended that they use some of their money to improve the infrastructure of their research sector."
Another issue is foreign-language proficiency. More than half of those winning the first scholarships from the Becas Chile program needed to take language lessons before going abroad. And Ms. Neddermeyer acknowledged that Brazil must invest in tuition because not enough students are fluent in languages other than Portuguese. "It is clear this could be a difficulty in longer term," she said. "I think we have a group ready right now, but when we extend ourselves, I think we will need to have extensive courses. That can also be negotiated with the foreign universities. Some will offer that as part of their deal."
For now, the main challenge is spreading the word and ramping up interest with universities and students. It's not hard once that initial skepticism wears off, said Mr. Pires. Especially with such unprecedented numbers at hand.
Relación de los Estudios de Postgrado y la Formación Continua con el sector empresarial y el tejido productivo en Iberoamérica
La relación de los Estudios de Postgrado y la Formación Continua con el sector empresarial y el tejido productivo en Iberoamérica, Granada, 7 al 9 de Septiembre de 2011.
Los días del 7 al 9 de Septiembre de 2011, las tres redes AUIP (Asociación Universitaria Iberoamericana de Postgrado), RUEPEP(Red Universitaria de Estudios de Postgrado y Educación Continua y RECLA(Red de Educación Continua de Latinoamérica y Europa, han organizado en el Centro Mediterráneo de la universidad de Granada (España) el curso "La Relación entre los Estudios de Postgrado y la Formación Continua con el sector empresarial y el tejido productivo en iberoamérica". Programa.
Last May nearly 1,000 university presidents from Latin America, Spain, and Portugal gathered in Mexico to discuss how to improve collaboration across countries. The event might never have happened if it weren't for the deep pockets of its corporate sponsor, the Spanish bank Santander.
Over the past 15 years, Santander has invested more than $1-billion in promoting internationalization among Ibero-American universities, and more recently, with their counterparts in Britain, China...
Santander operates a bank branch on the campus of La Salle U., in Mexico City, one of hundreds of campus branches in Latin America that offer special services for students and faculty.
By Beth McMurtrie, Washington. A panel discussion on Thursday about how to better promote American higher education abroad turned into a debate over the dangers of seeing international students as revenue generators for cash-strapped colleges.
The discussion was part of a three-day EducationUSA conference that has brought together 250 college representatives as well as staff members from EducationUSA's 40 offices overseas. As global competition for international students accelerates, the State Department has put more resources into EducationUSA, whose network of more than 400 centers is the primary means by which the United States promotes American higher education abroad.
Thursday's session focused on how the State Department could better work with national organizations, including the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and the National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals. Also on the panel were representatives of Community Colleges for International Development and the National Association for College Admission Counseling, or NACAC.
A proposal by NACAC to ban its members from using commission-based recruiting agents abroad was the topic of a session on Wednesday, drawing questions about why a national organization would get involved in what some colleges see as an internal decision on the best way to recruit students.
Cuando se habla de la Educación continua no se puede dejar de lado a la educación permanente, de la cual deriva la Educación Continua, la primera concebida como una función permanente presente en todas las etapas de la vida de las personas, las cuales son capaces de adquirir cada día nuevas destrezas y habilidades a partir de los aprendizajes adquiridos.
Por su parte, la educación continua pensada como la oportunidad complementaria de formación, la cual principalmente incorpora a personas profesionales en las distintas áreas del conocimiento, para potenciar las necesidades tanto en el campo laboral o profesional.
Las instituciones de educación superior, tienen la misión de incorporar dentro de sus planes de desarrollo las actividades complementarias de formación permanente como una alternativa de intercambio de experiencia y conocimiento, así como de colaboración entre ellas y la sociedad.
La diversidad de actividades que se pueden contemplar dentro de la educación continua y actualización profesional puede estar enmarcada en talleres, seminarios, congresos, cursos especializados, entre otros lo que conlleva a plantear también la duración de dichas actividades.
En muchos países los programas de educación continua cumplen también con el propósito de vinculase con poblaciones de atención prioritaria o capacitar a profesionales que trabajan con comunidades.
Desde esta perspectiva organizaciones conformadas como redes pueden atender a dichas poblaciones potenciando la participación el intercambio de saberes y conocimientos entre instituciones, grupos organizados, sectores sociales, para propiciar las trasformaciones necesarias que permitan un mejoramiento en la calidad de vida de los involucrados. Lo anterior, sin duda alguna, se revierte en el desarrollo nacional de un país.
La Red de Educación Continua de Latinoamerica y Europa (RECLA) promueve espacios de difusión de las investigaciones sobre Educación Continua en diversas partes del mundo, en ellas “se dan a conocer buenas prácticas con el fin de ser aplicadas por los organismos interesados”.
The budget allocation for Fulbright scholarships and other academic activities run by the State Department could decline to between $502-million to $516-million from the current $598.8-million under plans proposed in the Republican-led the House of Representatives, said Mr. McCarry....
Global demand for higher education has never been stronger, and it's still growing. The world's middle class has never been so wealthy, and the United States remains the first-choice study destination. Yet we face stiff competition, and our share of the market has been shrinking. Now is the time to leverage our colleges to become engines of export and national growth. In fact, not to do so amounts to squandering a great national treasure.
On April 13, 2010 the participants of the first Caribbean Conference on Higher Education (CCHE) adopted the Declaration of Paramaribo. The conference was opened on April 11 by President Ronald Venetiaan of Suriname, who called for greater collaboration among education and research institutes in the Caribbean. Conference participants included Ministers of Education and other Government representatives, Principals and representatives of academic and educational institutions, university networks and international and other organizations.
The CCHE was organized by the OAS, Department of Human Development, Education and Culture (DHDEC), the UNESCO Kingston Cluster Office for the Caribbean and the UNESCO Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC), in close collaboration with the Government of Suriname’s Ministry of Education.
Conference participants discussed trends and perspectives of higher education in the Caribbean, quality assurance and accreditation, science, technology and innovation in the Caribbean, internationalization and academic cooperation and the revitalization of the higher education system of Haiti. The Declaration of Paramaribo includes a Call for Action on the aforementioned conference issues. It was agreed that the Caribbean Conference on Higher Education would be held bi-annually and that a Technical Committee will be established to follow-up the recommendations and actions of the Conference.
Since the founding of the Berkeley Institutes on Higher Education last year, we have sponsored two successful week-long institutes in the summer of 2010 for international visitors from all around the world. We also held a week-long institute in December, 2010 for university presidents and vice presidents from many parts of China. I'd like to ask your help in identifying participants for the Institute in July, 2011. If you cannot attend yourself, I ask that you forward this note to others who might be interested in this opportunity. C. Judson King, Director, Center for Studies in Higher Education, 771 Evans Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, email@example.com.