What’s Spanish for development? Chilean higher education at an impasse

18th March 2021 : 14:00 - 15:00

Category: Webinar

Speaker: José M Salazar, Universidad de Valparaíso; Pete Leihy; Elisabeth Simbürger, Universidad de Valparaíso

Location: Zoom webinar, registration required

Audience: Public

The term development becomes harder to define (much less ably translate) the more dearly it is held as a preoccupation. Chile is perhaps the most apt pupil that international advisory and assistance organisations have ever had, and yet public policy’s grip on development seems to have slipped. From the end of the 1980s, Chilean higher education grew and diversified, indeed at the same time that compulsory schooling was being extended more widely. This webinar comprises twin presentations: firstly, an historical overview of phases in Chilean higher education policy and growth dating back to the middle of last century, and then a reconsideration of past and current conditions in terms of notions of ‘development’ in international and local rhetoric.

Chile’s last fifteen years have seen widespread dissatisfaction and protest against an education system whose expansion has been held together by fees, subsidies and student debt. Economic stagnation has been in evidence since the mid 2010s, but frustrations boiled over in October 2019, when vandalism and looting damaged city centres and protests called for the heads of politicians of all stripes. Public opinion soundings appreciate the popular call for a new constitution written by elected non-politicians (oxymoronic though the thought) instead of conservative brains trusts like the previous ones. Covid-19 has deepened the misery, although a plebiscite committing to the drafting of a new constitution has passed. Chileans are angry, and tired, and despite far more formal education than ever, apparently short on the civil discourse to address their differences.

Jose Salazar, Universidad de Valparaíso
Pete Leihy

Elisabeth Simbürger, Universidad de Valparaíso

This webinar is part of the free public seminar programme hosted by the Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE).