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Reviews of National Policies for Education: Tertiary Education in Colombia 2012

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In Colombia, the beginning of a new century has brought with it a palpable feeling of optimism. Colombians and visitors sense that the country’s considerable potential can be realised, and education is rightly seen as crucial to this process. As opportunities expand, Colombians will need new and better skills to respond to new challenges and prospects.

The government is therefore determined to address key challenges confronting tertiary education in the country: expanding enrolment and improving equity, increasing quality and relevance, and making governance and finance more responsive. Colombia has more than a decade of progress under its belt, and the energy to reach ambitious policy goals. Getting there in practice will involve dialogue and consensus-seeking among all stakeholders, as well as new resources and new rules.

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Overview, achievements and issues

This chapter opens with a brief description of the Colombian context, the country’s education system, how Colombia fares in international comparisons and key aspects of its tertiary education system, including institutions, students enrolled, the returns from education, access and admission, quality and relevance, financing, academic staff, research and the government’s future plans for the tertiary sector.

The chapter records Colombia’s significant achievements, which include recent growth in participation, diverse institutions, sound national planning, public agreement on the importance of equitable access and excellent student support and educational evaluation agencies. Many challenges are also recorded: these include limited resources to fulfil plans, students underprepared for tertiary education, as-yet-unequal access, high dropout, quality issues, limited research and internationalisation and a lack of institutional accountability.

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