Latin American Higher Education in the Beginning of the New Century. Situation, Main Problems and Future Perspectives

Norberto Rafael Fernández Lamarra, Cristian Gonzalo Pérez Centeno


Overcame initial effects of severe economic crisis that affected the region in the beginning of this century, several Latin American countries developed educational policies aimed at promoting full inclusion in education that guarantees the right to education for all citizens, mainly for most disadvantaged sectors, traditionally excluded. Thus it has sought to increase coverage, improve performance indicators and educational efficiency and to promote higher levels of graduation, attacking registered levels of inequality. Higher Education, specifically University, was perhaps the level of education with highest incidence and focus by democratizing policies, probably due to high inequality existing in access -even considering the mass growth verified in last decades of past century-, strong segmentation and institutional fragmentation and heterogeneous quality. Data about its evolution demonstrate a important democratization of higher education systems in Latin America in the last decade, moving in the way of mentioned objectives. A relative higher improvement is also seen in sectors with less educational capital compared to those who have a longer tradition of access to educational services. However, these progresses -based on a general social and economic indicators improvement - don’t structurally modify inequality levels expressed at university level. Paper also presents a regional situation with regard to main problems that university administration must address and to current quality assurance models to evaluate programs and higher education institutions. However, in this sense, Latin American higher education shows a strong heterogeneity and difficulties to account for new requirements, which also question progresses achieved.


Higher Education; Latin America; Democratization; Administration; Educational Quality Assessment



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