After having time to reflect back to the conversations and experiences I had while in Chile, I have some final thoughts to share. First, I would like to touch on the subject of funding which some of my peers have previously discussed. In 1980, a law was passed in Chile allowing the creation of private universities. Prior to the 1980s, higher education was free for all students in Chile. However, in the Chile of today at least 79 percent of a student’s higher education is supported by their family. I heard from one administrator from the Universidad de Austral that it is actually about 85 percent. This percentage is the highest of any country in the world. This has led to many Chilean students choosing to leave their country and attend a university in Argentina or Uruguay because it is a cheaper option. In addition, after the top students complete their undergraduate studies or masters they choose to study abroad to earn their doctorate. The population of Chile is slightly more than 17 million people. The number of Chilean students attending universities is currently 1 million and the number of graduate students is about 27,500 (~23,750 masters and ~3,750 doctorates). One way in which funding for higher education is distributed throughout Chile is by region. The country is divided into 14 regions and each one receives its own set of funding.
I also would like to touch some on the tenure process and types of professors of two of the Chilean universities we visited. The Universidad de Austral is a regional, non-state, non-Catholic university. The tenure process there is very similar to the tenure process in the United States. However, publications and obtaining outside funding are both helpful in obtaining tenure, but are not absolutely necessary. Additionally, a professor needs at least two graduate students to complete their degree in order to become tenured. In contrast, the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile is a metropolitan, non-state, Catholic university. It receives funding from the Catholic Church as well as 10 percent of its overall funding from the Chilean government. In comparison to the Universidad de Austral, Católica does not offer professors the opportunity to attain tenure. Another statistic that I found remarkable is that around 80 percent of professors at Católica come from outside of Chile.
Lastly, I would like to discuss a little about the types of secondary education in Chile which has had a major impact on the amount of funding each institution of higher education receives from the government. There are three types of secondary education institutions in Chile: private, subsidized, and public. The private schools, which make up 6 percent of the total number of secondary schools, require their students to pay for the full amount of tuition. Subsidized schools require their students to pay a certain percentage of the tuition, but the rest is paid for by the government. Public schools are free for students, meaning that the government pays for everything. At a meeting with administrators from the Faculty of Engineering at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile we were informed of the types of students that are accepted into the undergraduate program. One out of 60 students comes from private secondary schools, one out of 3,000 come from subsidized schools, and only one out of 7,000 are admitted from public schools. These numbers are exceptionally startling. Nevertheless, the Faculty of Engineering at Católica has begun a social responsibility program in which 50 students who would have otherwise not been admitted into the university are accepted. These students come to the campus before classes start and receive mentoring so that they can become acclimated to the university. This program helps to ensure their success.