Chilean and Ecuadorian universities meet to discuss transformation processes in higher education

Universities of the Council of Rectors were invited by SENESCYT to an exchange of good practices and reflection on the elements that make up higher education systems in the search for quality and academic excellence.

 The objective of this first day has been to promote the academic space for the exchange, analysis, reflection and promotion of good practices in higher education that allow the strengthening of collaboration networks between Ecuador and Chile.

Four areas of common interest have constituted this exchange agenda, academic innovation, strengthening of postgraduate studies, research development and internal quality assurance systems. On the part of the universities of the Council of Rectors, the University of Chile, the University of Antofagasta and the University of Talca have participated. On the part of the universities of Ecuador, the National Polytechnic University, the Litoral Polytechnic Superior School, the Armed Forces University, the Chimborazo Superior School, the Central University of Ecuador, the Technical University of Ambato and the University of Cuenca.

The Chilean Ambassador, Mr. Gabriel Ascencio, was present at the opening of the Conference. And then, in the initial presentations, the Undersecretary General for Higher Education, María del Pilar Troya, participated, who presented the orientations, development and results of the higher education reform in Ecuador, highlighting its progress and challenges. At the same time, M. Teresa Marshall of the Council of Rectors of Chilean Universities presented the situation of higher education in Chile, the role of CRUCH and the guidelines for future reform. 

In the exchange panels, the subject of academic innovation was presented from a reading of cases in Chile, M. Inés Icaza (University of Talca) and in Ecuador (Elizabeth Larrea of the Council of Higher Education of Ecuador); later the quality assurance systems with the presentations of María Luisa Granda (ESPOL, Guayaquil), Rosa Devés (University of Chile) and M. Inés Icaza (University of Talca). These topics generated a lively interest on the part of Ecuadorian universities to understand the quality assurance processes that Chilean universities have installed and the academic innovation processes; Both issues are priorities that higher education institutions in Ecuador must install in a very short time. But at the same time, the presentation on the situation in Ecuador was especially interesting and allowed us to understand the dimension of the changes that are being promoted.

In the same exchange logic, the analysis of the situation of the research systems in the universities of the two countries was approached. In this case, the presentations by Flavio Salazar (University of Chile) and Marcelo Oliva (University of Antofagasta) contributed to understanding the trajectory of the Chilean system in terms of science, technology, innovation and creativity, together with the strategic visions of each university. From the case of Ecuador, the presentation by Mr. Rodríguez (Central University of Ecuador) contributed an analysis of the historical point of view together with the strengths and weaknesses of scientific development in Ecuadorian universities.

In the last part of this meeting, the postgraduate situation was presented. On the part of Chile, Rosa Devés (University of Chile) presented who highlighted the value of the doctorate for the development of the university, considering that this is the fundamental engine of academic change towards excellence. This presentation was complemented with a presentation on evaluation of the postgraduate system in Ecuador, made by Jaime Gallegos (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Ecuador). These exhibitions demonstrated an important asymmetry between the experiences of both countries and at the same time the interest of working in partnership was expressed in order to contribute to the development of postgraduate studies in the universities of Ecuador.

The four panels culminated with exchange tables that aimed to delve into each topic - quality, postgraduate, academic innovation and research - and respond to the specific concerns of the attendees. This moment facilitated establishing contacts to generate future collaboration spaces.

At the end of the day, along with thanking the organization of SENESCYT and especially the management of María Francisca Bustamante, it was considered relevant to continue with these academic meetings. Among possible lines of joint work, the organization of an exchange day in Chile by CRUCH was proposed, and the exploration of agreements for scholarship programs and for academic mobility.