This report reviews Chile’s scholarship abroad scheme – the Becas Chile Programme – and its interaction with other available scholarships, and provides an overview of best practices for scholarship programmes at the international level and their impact. In addition it analyses the design and institutional framework of the Chilean programme and recommends ways to maintain and improve the scheme.
Acronyms and Abbreviations
In April 2009, the OECD and the World Bank published a comprehensive review of national tertiary education policy in Chile. That publication – Reviews of National Policies for Education: Tertiary Education in Chile – provides an overview and recommendations for the medium and longer term development of tertiary education in Chile. As a follow on, the government of Chile requested the joint review team to conduct a specific analysis of the Becas Chile Programme (BCP) which provides scholarships for study abroad. The purpose of the analysis was to help the government take stock of the experience to date, identify strengths and weaknesses of the policy process and consider options for taking the initiative forward in the future. This report is the result.
"In 2005, 172 young Chileans received scholarships to study abroad. This year it will be more than a thousand; next year it will be 2 500, and in 2010 we will reach 3 300. Thus, over the course of a decade we will have contributed to the specialised education and training of more than 30 000 people."
President Michelle Bachelet, Presentation of the Chile Bicentennial Scholarships, Santiago, 2008
Tertiary Education and R&D Capacity
This chapter offers a thorough insight into Chile’s tertiary education system and into the improvements underway to increase the country’s research, development and innovation capacity. Based on rich data, it discusses important aspects of higher education policies like enrolment rates, career preferences, student financial support mechanisms and tertiary education reforms.
The purpose of this chapter is to present an overview of the functioning of the Becas Chile Programme, explain its origin and main provisions, compare its main features with current international practices, and describe and assess its key statistics, design principles and application evaluation process. The chapter discusses how much human capital the country should produce in order to catch up with a peer group of countries. It is likely that the amount of scholarships provided per student – three to seven times higher than in the countries used for comparison in this chapter – will serve well the need of Chile to expand its base of qualified human resources. Compared to previous programmes, BCP is a big step forward by being more responsive to the needs and choices of students, taking better account of Chile’s varying socio-economic circumstances, and being administratively transparent and innovative. Nevertheless, there is room for improvement: BCP has an age bias towards younger students and gives little weight to national priorities in the assessment of applicants for scholarships.
The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the ability of Chile’s human capital formation system to build capacity and foster innovation, and recommend ways in which BCP can further complement it. The labour market in Chile is short of high quality graduates, and it is likely that demand for higher education will further increase. This will require enlargement and diversification of programmes and portfolio of the Chilean Universities while raising quality, and coping with challenges related to the ageing of academic staff, lack of incentives for improving the quality of teaching, low academic staff levels, etc. The chapter recommends addressing the quality demand through the introduction of BCP sub-programmes for visiting professors, for attracting foreign students, and for training of personnel from enterprises. Particular attention should be given to the challenge of attracting and reinserting scholarship recipient graduates into the country. The chapter offers recommendations and looks at the strategies similar programmes in other countries have used to address the issue.
Operational and Institutional Challenges
This chapter highlights the operational and institutional challenges facing the Becas Chile Programme (BCP). First, the programme’s current legal and administrative framework is outlined. Next, an account of operational problems and possible solutions are illustrated. Particular emphasis is made on the applicant evaluation and selection process. The ambiguity of Becas Chile’s institutional roles and responsibilities are analysed, highlighting the implications for governance, day-to-day operations and inter-agency co-ordination. Concerning Becas Chile’s role in activities related to the development of advanced human capital, proposals are made after an in-depth review.
The Becas Chile Programme (BCP) is imaginative and transformative. It is based on the assumption that Chile can play at the leading edge of international advances in the generation and application of knowledge. By any international comparison it is expansive in the number of its participants and generous in the benefits it provides for them. The review team is encouraged by the commitment of the government of Chile, as evidenced through its various advanced human capital formation initiatives on the domestic front, to optimise the impact of the BCP.
Chile has a population of 16.8 million people. Around 23% of the population is aged below 15 years. The urban population represents 87% of the total country population.
Compulsory education in Chile lasts twelve years, typically starting at the age of six. Eight years are spent in primary (elementary) education and the remaining four in secondary education. Secondary schools fall into three categories: municipal, private-subsidised (which receive vouchers of equal value) and private-paying. Municipal schools operated by the 345 municipalities may charge fees only for secondary education.
Universities fall into two categories: universities created by the private sector after 1980 and which are known as private universities, and universities which are members of the Consejo de Rectores de las Universidades Chilenas, or CRUCH, and are known as traditional universities. CRUCH universities include 16 state, 6 Catholic and 3 private lay universities. Students in these have access to a range of subsidised financing, while students in non CRUCH higher education institutions have far fewer (and largely unsubsidised) options. CRUCH universities receive both a direct subsidy from the State in the form of a block grant (Aporte Fiscal Directo, AFD), and part of an indirect grant (Aporte Fiscal Indirecto, AFI) that is allocated to institutions that attract the 27 000 students with the top PSU scores. Private universities, on the other hand, finance themselves largely through student tuition and the AFI.
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