Higher education in Mexico has expanded rapidly in recent years. Between 2007 and 2017 tertiary attainment among young adults increased from 16% to 23%. Although this is still well below the OECD average of 44%, Mexico has made considerable efforts to expand and diversify provision of higher education through public institutions. Investments and financial aid programmes have helped increase the accessibility of higher education in regions and among population groups that were previously underserved. Nevertheless, the 13 public and private subsystems of Mexican higher education continue to face numerous challenges. These relate, in particular, to the quality and relevance of the learning opportunities they provide and their ability to reach students from all parts of Mexican society.

Against this backdrop, in 2018, the Mexican federal Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) invited the OECD to review the main policies governing higher education in Mexico. This new review revisits and updates the OECD Review of Higher Education in Mexico published in 2008, a decade ago. The review team – composed of international experts and OECD staff - has examined the strengths and weaknesses of different aspects of the Mexican higher education landscape. Specifically, they have analysed the governance arrangements and strategy in place to steer the higher education system, the mechanisms used to allocate public funding, systems for external quality assurance, and conditions and public policies for equity. In addition, the review has drilled down to examine the specific challenges facing technical higher education institutions and public Teacher Education Colleges.

This report presents the findings of the review team and their recommendations for the future orientation of public policy for higher education in Mexico. The diagnosis it offers and the policy options it identifies are based upon national data, official government documents, reports published by Mexico’s higher education associations, scholarly research, international experience, and a fact-finding mission in which scores of meetings were conducted in Mexico City, as well as in the states of Puebla, Hidalgo and Yucatán.


I hope this report will support Mexico in its efforts to promote quality and equity in its higher education system. The OECD stands ready to help Mexico in these efforts.

Andreas Schleicher

Director for Education and Skills and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary General OECD

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