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World Bank report alerts to downside to free higher education

In its “At a Crossroads, Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean” report just published, the World Bank indicates that higher education enrollment has expanded dramatically in Latin America and the Caribbean since 2000. It points out that while more students are studying in universities, there are concerns into the quality and the variety of these studies.

Higher education enrollment among the population ages 18-24 years has grown from 21% to 43% from 2000 to 2013. There are around 20 million students in 10,000 institutions and 60,000 programs.

The report says concerns about quality of instruction loom over the large equity gains experienced by higher education systems in the region. The rapid expansion of the systems, the characteristics of the “new” students, and perhaps the lax regulation of some higher education institutions have led many to question the quality of their programs and, thus, the equity of the studies.

In the study, the Dominican Republic is listed as the country with the lowest percentage of completed higher education, only surpassed by Honduras among countries where students are still enrolled. The dropout rate is average for the Dominican Republic.

The report indicates that share of higher education graduates by field (around 2013) was: social sciences, business and law 46.8%, education 17.7%, humanities and arts 4.7%, science 4.6%, engineering, manufacturing and construction 9.8%, agriculture 0.7%, health and welfare 14%, services 0.6%.

The report is critical about the free tuition offered by government educational institutions. The report states: With universal free tuition, the student no longer bears the cost of her education or the risk of failing to graduate. Hence, universal free tuition tends to attract many students who are likely to drop out. Furthermore, even some students who might succeed otherwise might take longer to graduate, or even fail.

The state university, UASD, has expanded considerably around the country, offering free tuition to students. The university has the highest enrollment, but has the lowest completion rate and highest still in school rates.

“Higher Education is key to boosting growth and reducing poverty and inequality,” said World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean Jorge Familiar. “To ensure equity of opportunities, the region has to enhance quality of education and provide students with better information on programs, adequate incentives and financing options, and connections to the labor market. Better regulation of higher education institutions is also needed to improve accountability for the services they provide.”

https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/…=2&isAllowed=y

Source: DR1

May 19, 2017

Category: DR News |

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Last updated October 22, 2017 at 1:41 AM
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