Duration of careers and timely qualification

In the CITECAMP auditorium of the University of Santiago, the academic vice-rectors of the CRUCH universities met yesterday to delve into the progress of the SCT (System of Transferable Credits), duration of careers and timely qualifications, topics that led to a further discussion background on the current state of Chilean Higher Education without ignoring the need for a Qualifications Framework, financing and the lack of regulation of the current Chilean university system.

Fernanda Kri, Academic Vice Chancellor of the USACH and owner of the house at the meeting presented the progress and the tasks to be carried out in 2013 within the framework of the SCT project and during the day several academics presented different experiences regarding the timely qualification lived in each one from universities. In the PUC, for example, it has been approached through transformations in the management and administration of the careers through Curricular Committees that advise the different faculties on the subject as explained by the Academic Vice Chancellor of the PUC, Roberto González.
 
At the same time the topic of the prevention of desertion was addressed. Tito Larrondo, Academic Vice-Rector of the UPLA, showed with statistics how they increased retention using a curricular innovation based on the student being able to demonstrate competencies. 
 
For his part, Aldo Ballerini, Academic Vice-Rector of the U. del Bío –bío referred to one of the great difficulties that has been put on the table when talking about what has been called “shortening of careers” which is the leveling of competences, a matter that is directly related to the appropriate qualification. In the Institution of the 8th region, a strengthening network was carried out - the product of a MECESUP project - of strategies to improve the academic results of underprivileged early-year students  
 
“Everything we have developed has been precisely focusing on the student. Scholarships so that no student leaves due to an economic problem and a strong educational offer to take care of the generic deficiencies that students bring, significantly improving the level of learning, the repetition rates in some subjects and of course, the reduction of dropouts in the first year, which results in a timely degree, ”said Ballerini. 
 
Another experience on retention strategies was that of the University of Talca, where they carried out a curricular redesign implemented in three areas of competencies: transversal, basic and disciplinary sciences. As stated by María Inés Icaza, Academic Vice-Rector of that House of Studies: “We developed an efficient, concrete and very limited program that does not imply great difficulties for academics. Through a leveling model in mathematics through a computational platform that allows students to exercise in order to reach a common level of knowledge. The ultimate goal is to print on students who are in college and not in a fifth grade ”.  
 
In the debate on the issue of the duration of careers, the major issues of higher education such as the lack of current regulation of the university system and the financing of students were not avoided. Roxana Pey, an academic from the University of Chile and the expert who made the Report on the duration of undergraduate careers requested by the MINEDUC to the Council of Rectors, warned about the complexity of the subject and at the same time the simplicity with which it has been handled . “All the analysis shows that it is not a technical issue but a political one. The bottom line of the problem is financing. The State must protect that young people are not cheated and that they are not robbed, not only to emphasize reducing the years of careers' duration ”.  
 
Patricio Aceituno, Academic Vice Chancellor of the University of Chile contributed to the debate by expressing his concern about the chaos in which the current university system finds itself and pointing out the fundamental priorities on which the Vice Chancellors should focus. “I cannot imagine an SCT with a completely unregulated university system. What is more important, to agree on the SCT or denounce the fundamental problem that is how we order a university system. Not only do we want to shorten careers, we want to reform the system, "he said.