According to the last statements given out by the Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, in 2016, 50% of students belonging to the country´s most vulnerable groups will have access to free higher education.
Benefits will be given to students belonging to the sixth income percentiles, enrolled in any of the universities belonging to the Consejo de Rectores (Rectors’ Counsel), or in a college or technical schools which must be accredited, and non-profit ones.
What are the main points of the proposal coming from the Ministry of Education?
A new system is established including higher requirements to the creation and functioning of higher education institutions (IES). The objective is to guarantee the social rights, inclusion, and non-arbitrary discrimination, quality, learning freedom, diversity, autonomy, participation, transparency, respect, promotion of Human Rights and contribution to the knowledge production and transference to communities. Within this framework a National Higher Education System, New Qualification Framework is proposed, as well as a new system of official recognition of the Higher Education Institutions (IES), and the effective profit prohibition.
The development of a common access system to higher education is proposed to be started, compulsory to all Higher Education Institutions, which combines inclusion and selection criteria. In relation to selection, standardized tests are proposed as well as high school grades ranking, Previous Learning Recognition (PLR) and other special tests. Concerning inclusion, the idea is to get diversity granting access to higher Education for students who were historically discriminated by their socio-economical origin, or belonging to native aboriginal groups, being handicapped or other discrimination situations which can be defined.
The institutions will be forced to be accredited from the start, and the ones which are not accredited will have to start the process. The accreditation institution (currently the National Accreditation Commission) will have to include professors and lecturers of an extensive background chosen by means of transparent procedures.
To have access to public funding, the HED will have to be constituted as a non-profit private corporation, without any commercial relationship among the members of the corporation, and being the owner of a certain percentage of the building of the institution. Also every institution will have to assume a series of agreements, among others to grant equity and diversity in the access and abiding of the students, as well as incorporating an agreement of democratic participation within any institution, including the academic people, students, workers in higher institutional departments, with the right to vote and expression.
Implementing this reform demands the improvement of the public institutionalism, therefore Higher Education Sub-secretary and Higher Education Superintendence will be created as well as reinforcing the quality assurance institutional system.
Where has the Chilean Higher Education Reform reached?
The Ministry of Education, Adriana Delpiano has decided to convene outstanding professionals dedicated to elaborate public policies to create the Higher Education Reform Advisory Council. This department´s goal is to cooperate in the construction of a new policy for Higher Education and participate with its observations to the creation of this law.
Rosa Devés, vice rector of Academic Affairs from Universidad de Chile and spokesman of this department explained that the counselors will analyze some topics as the new system aims, its mission and its principles.
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