Pushing for even higher education: Opportunities emerge as graduate studies come into focus

ited programmes, while specialisations only have two.

In the World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitiveness Report 2012-13”, the quality of business management schools in Colombia ranked highly, making it to 74th place out of 144 countries.

According to John Romeiro, chancellor of business school Esumer, only a third of PhD graduates working in Colombia received their qualifications in the country, while the rest undertook their studies abroad. One major cause behind this is that institutions other than universities cannot offer PhD programmes. “To sidestep this barrier, foreign universities can offer doctoral studies in alliance with local institutions, becoming both a solution and business opportunity,” Romeiro told OBG.

Esumer itself offers doctoral degrees in collaboration with Canadian and Spanish universities. Colombian institutions have come to function as second-tier universities for foreign graduate programmes.

Exchanges with foreign models have already significantly influenced the curriculum covered in further studies. Business schools such as Esumer have recently begun to focus instruction on strengthening second languages and the use of technologies.

DOCTORAL GOALS: According to a 2011 study on higher education in Latin America, edited by Chilean researcher José Joaquín Brunner, Colombia has a relatively low level of doctoral students in comparison to regional countries. Aware of such disparities, the government has laid out an ambitious but fundamental goal to produce 1000 PhD graduates per year by 2014, up from the current number of some 500. The Administrative Department of Science, Technology and Innovation (Colciencias) has been leading this initiative.

Such aspirations go hand in hand with increasing highlevel human capital for the productive sector. In 2011 Colciencias began an initiative to integrate PhD graduates into the labour force by offering companies hiring incentives. Doctoral employees are required to do research projects that are pertinent to industrial activities, benefitting both companies and the country. Demand for graduate programmes in Colombia has risen significantly over the past decade, driven primarily by growing competitiveness in the workforce. However, both infrastructure and resources to maintain high levels of instruction remain insufficient, leaving much room for growth.

Specialisation courses are the most popular options for further studies, designed for students to gain additional knowledge on subjects related directly to professional careers. These courses tend to last only one year and can range from architecture to political science. In 2012, the number of enrolled students in specialisation programmes was recorded at more than 81,000, nearly 50% up from the 55,100 in 2002.

ADVANCED DEGREES: Master’s and doctoral studies represent far fewer numbers but tremendous growth rates. While enrolments for master’s degrees tripled over the past 10 years to nearly 33,000 in 2012, students entering doctoral programmes have grown by nine times over the same period to around 3000.

Among these more lengthy options, master’s of business administration (MBAs), offered by both universities and business schools, are becoming some of the most prized programmes. Luis Fernando Jaramillo Carling, director of Inalde Business School, told OBG that management education is particularly important to changing Colombia’s business culture: “Colombian organisations frequently have weak administrations and don’t straightforwardly accept help from outside, either in the form of capital or management expertise, as they fear to lose control of their companies. Nor do they have confidence in the idea of consolidating their industries into clusters to gain synergies.”

GAPS: Even so, the number of programmes available is not sufficient to meet the large demand. While PhD graduates have grown five-fold over the past decade, programmes have been slower to be introduced, and currently amount to 127, of which only three are accredited with high quality standards, according to the Ministry of National Education. Master’s have 16

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The Report: Colombia 2013

Education chapter from The Report: Colombia 2013

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