New IDB project awarded

 

IDB entrusts DEVPOLES with Latin America's first-ever comparative study of the economic and social impact of university institutions across the region.

blog2 UBA Denseel Lic Creative CommonsFoto credits: Denseel CC BY 2.0

Objective

DEVPOLES is conducting a comparative socioeconomic impact study of a selection of university institutions in Latin America. The study will use both quantitative techniques including econometric methods taking into account supply and demand as well as qualitative methods that will allow validating the quantitative results and capturing nuances that cannot be identified under quantitative techniques. The ultimate purpose is to produce information able to foster a well-informed public discussion about the value of university work in the countries and regions where they operate, as well as to create suggestions for possible strategies to align and update university activities in teaching, research as well as business and community engagement with ongoing technological and economic challenges.

DEVPOLES will lead the production of the study in close cooperaiton with the Autonomous University of Barcelona, University of Barcelona, University of Deusto and Colombia's Sergio Arboleda Univeristy, under the supervision of the IDB and the patronage of Universia Foundation.

Relevant context

The IDB, in partnership with Universia-Santander, in October 2017 initiated a strategic process of dialogue and collaboration with public and private higher education institutions in Latin America under the premise that accelerated technological change is impacting different university areas and creating risks and opportunities for universities in the region. Some changes that have been identified include, but are not limited to: the generation of unforeseen competition, changes in research and academic careers, changes in the expertise needs of the business and public sectors, changes in the aspirations of young people, changes in training platforms, and changes in curricular content.

As a result, the institutions participating in the dialogue identified a serious gap in their adaptation to these changes and continued the discussion defining the detection of trends, strategies and possible lines of action.

Following the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic since March of 2020, the “social distancing” measures that have been taken to mitigate the spread of the pandemic have also generated a strong economic contraction that, in turn, has forced the digitalization of the productive sectors. Higher education institutions have been directly affected and obliged to modify their modes of provision and move towards tele-education. In the case of the Latin American region, the scope of the response of many universities to optimize their teleworking and distance education capacities and maintain their cash flow has been limited, especially in the case of small and medium-sized institutions.

This study will play its key part in supporting universities in Latin America and the Caribbean to better understand how to accelerate and improve their insertion in the changing economic and technological environment brought about by the ongoing technological revolution. This objective will be pursued by improving the understanding of the economic and social value of universities in selected countries from the double perspective of fostering an understanding among policymakers and the public about the value of university work for the countries and regions in which they operate, as well as generating recommendations for possible strategies to better align and update university curricula and activities with the characteristics and impacts of the ongoing technological revolution.

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