Six tips to improve higher education

The labor market is changing and the entire population must be prepared to function in a technological environment and education is the key to developing the relevant skills that will be used in real life.

However, Mexico has shown to have several deficiencies in the matter, especially at the higher level. Lack of transparency in their budgets, little clarity in their academic programs and, above all, inequity are some of the things that our country must overcome if it wants to improve educational quality.

During the International Congress on Technological Innovation, Paulo Santiago, director of the Policy and Implementation Division of the OECD, explained the 6 specific areas in which our country must put the batteries and achieve a better performance of the students who are about to enter universities or are already in them.

Here we explain them:

1. CLEAR LEGAL FRAMEWORK

To achieve a good functioning of public policies, it is necessary to define responsibilities and build a good higher education system in which the different levels of government are involved.

This system must guarantee the autonomy of the institutions involved because this implies responsibility.

Currently, the law on Coordination of higher education is not very clear in terms of attributing responsibilities to the different parties, especially in terms of defining the concept of autonomy and therefore it is important that they develop new legislation on the matter.

Another key point is that the state must ensure that there are sufficient resources to meet the objectives.

2. DEFINE A LONG-TERM STRATEGY

No matter how much governments want to advance in education, if there are no clear rules and a defined strategy, progress will not be seen.

For example, the OECD found that in Mexico there are various higher education programs with different objectives, these are not related to lines of action, they do not have an assigned budget and their progress cannot be measured, therefore it recommends reducing the list of objectives to have more accurate results.

The strategy must also guarantee that state programs complement federal objectives, that is, although states have autonomy to generate their curricula, they must bear a certain relationship with what is being supported at the federal level.

3. TRANSPARENCY IN FINANCING

One of the points where there are most failures is transparency, especially when it comes to financing, which is why the OECD believes that in Mexico the way it allocates budget should be reformed and only focus on projects related to educational quality.

Another problem detected with financing is that in the last six years, Mexico has lowered its spending per student, which represents a problem because at the same time enrollment is growing.

Expenditures per student in public universities are totally different because there is no transparent formula that defines at least the basic expenses that are required. So we must also work on a system for the allocation of public resources to have more equitable institutions.

4. ENSURE EDUCATIONAL QUALITY.

The authorities must ensure that the performance of educational institutions is measured in order to make the necessary improvements. Currently Mexico has a system to measure some programs, but it has not supported the development of institutional capacities and responsibilities regarding quality.

Mexico has to develop a culture where institutions take charge of the educational quality they impart.

5. EQUITY AND ACCESS TO EDUCATION

Mexico must recognize that it has a serious problem of inequity in higher education, and although the percentage of young people who want to continue studying is increasing, not all can have access to a university.

In addition, another factor that influences equity is the social environment, since this does drastically influence the chances of success and of entering a higher education institution.

Mexico must guarantee the same educational opportunities for students with lower incomes, in addition to ensuring that all programs meet a minimum of quality.

Another recommendation is to decentralize the scholarship system, increase the transparency of its allocation and provide more financial support.

6. STRENGTHENING THE EDUCATIONAL OFFER

There is nothing worse than leaving college and stumbling upon the few job opportunities out there. This is because educational programs are not geared towards responding to the needs of the labor market.

The recommendation to correct this deficiency is to work in coordination with social agents so that educational programs take into account the relevance of the labor market.

You must work with employers to detect what the market requires and they also participate in the design of educational programs with different specific objectives.

Diversifying the options also helps, we must remove from the map that only a bachelor’s degree is valid and see technical careers with different eyes and give more support to this model.

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