IIE Networker - Fall 2009 - (Page 16)

STUDENT MOBILITY Student Mobility Trends in Latin America By Isabel Cristina Jaramillo and Hans de Wit STUDENT MOBILITY HAS become one of the most important activities in the higher education sector in the 21st century worldwide. The number of students moving around the world has more than doubled over the past twenty years and it is expected to grow even more in the next decade. Global competition for top talent in the present knowledge economy is an extremely important factor, especially considering the shortage of local talent in developed societies and in emerging economies like Brazil. The flow of Latin American students out of the region is increasing, but not approaching what mobility represents for other regions in the world. Even fewer students choose to come to pursue studies in the region itself. What is the participation of Latin America as a region in this global scenario? What are the challenges it faces? These are some of the questions addressed in this article, not an easy task given the heterogeneity of the higher education systems and the lack of transparent information on the part of the governments and the institutions themselves.1 Common Characteristics of Higher Education in Latin America Latin America is a diverse and complex region. It refers to those countries where the Spanish and the Portuguese languages prevail, and is normally identified by the countries that span from Mexico all the way to Argentina, including Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Latin America and the Caribbean are therefore one big region composed of nearly 8,910 institutions of higher education. Of these, only 1,231 (14 percent) are universities. 2 Latin American universities, seen as key actors in social and economic development, face some global challenges for which they have to prepare if they want to play an active role in the global market: increased mobility and competition to attract the best talent, increased convergence of national higher education systems, increased liberalization and trade in educational programs, and increased competition for research funding. 3 Over the past years and decades, important improvements have taken place. • Enrollment has increased significantly in the last four decades. Countries like Chile, Argentina and Uruguay are among the leaders. The participation rate in those countries is now 30 percent, while OECD’s average rate is currently at 56 percent. • Expansion has been pushed forward in different ways, from the creation of new public universities (Argentina, Mexico and Venezuela) to the appearance of a strong private sector, including for-profit and nonprofit institutions, that has accounted for most of the 40 percent increase in higher education enrollment in countries like Colombia, Chile and Brazil. • Graduate education has seen impressive growth throughout the region, but Latin American countries still produce a small number of PhDs compared to developed countries. Brazil is the leader (100,000 graduate students, 38,000 of them in doctoral programs). Global Student Mobility Mexico is second (100,000 students enrolled in master’s programs in 2005, but only 13,000 registered as doctoral students). Argentina ranks third, with almost 25,000 master’s and 8,000 doctoral students. Chile, a smaller country, currently enrolls 13,000 master’s and almost 3,000 doctoral students. Colombia lags behind with less than 12,000 master’s and 1,000 doctoral students. • National governments have set up scholarship schemes for study abroad to increase the number of graduate students. A recent example is the US$6 billion Bicentennial Fund for the Development of Human Capital in Chile. Some US$250 million in annual earnings from the fund is expected to be used to finance overseas scholarships to enable students to study in a range of other countries. • Program and institutional accreditation and quality assurance mechanisms have become central parts of the governments’ agendas. National agencies have been created in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Nicaragua, to mention a few, which include external peer reviewers for both undergraduate and graduate programs.4 Latin American Students Studying Abroad 5% (140,155 students) 2,725,996 students Figure 1. Total Latin American Outward Student Mobility, 2005 Source: OECD, 2007 16

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Fall 2009

IIE Networker - Fall 2009
Message from Allan E. Goodman
Public Diplomacy and Academic Exchange: Policy Priorities of the New Administration
Student Mobility Trends in Latin America
Promoting Inclusiveness in Higher Education in Latin America: A Policy Response
IIENetworker University Presidents Interview Series
Student Recruitment in the Caribbean: New Strategies for Cooperation
Bridging Borders: A Project for the Development and Diversification of Higher Learning Institutions in the United States and Haiti
Recent Challenges to Study Abroad in Mexico: Economic Crisis, Security Risks, H1N1
Special Feature: International Education Initiatives in Latin America
New York City and Sao Paulo, Public Policy and Business: A New Dual Degree Partnership
The Browser: Advertisers' Index
IIE Program Profile: The IIE Regional Office for Latin America

IIE Networker - Fall 2009