Ing. - Univ. Tarapacá, vol. 13 no. 2, 2005, pp. 9-10
UNIVERSITIES: A PENDING CHALLENGE
higher education model can be credited with significant recent accomplishments,
especially when it comes to improving the coverage of undergraduate enrollments.
Indeed, in the last decade, public and private universities have significantly
boosted openings for the growing number of students who pursue a university
degree. Nevertheless, the creation of new knowledge is still a pending
task within the system.
through advanced knowledge is a fundamental source of progress and economic
development for a long range trajectory (Ludval 2003, Dorwick 2002). Research
shows that scientific investigation and development can yield high economic
as well as social revenues, which can increase the former up to 20% (Lichtemberg
and Siegel, 1991, Nadiri, 1993) and up to 50% for the latter (Lichtemberg
and Van Pottelsberghe. 1996; Frantzen, 2000).
advanced knowledge creation is mainly generated in universities. Nevertheless,
benchmarks show that the country scantly invests in this activity, as
shown by the following:
spends a mere 0.7 % of its GNP in science and technology, whereas countries
belonging to the Economic Cooperation and Development Organization (ECDO)
invest an average of 2.26 % (ECDO, 2004).
- In Chile,
the number of professionals engaged in scientific research is small. Only
one in 10,000 members of the work force falls into this category, whereas
in the countries that belong to the ECDO, the number of scientific professionals
and scholars engaged in research is 65.5 for every 10,000 (Brunner and
has been ranked 35th among 104 countries by the World Economic Forum Index
and 37th among 72 countries by the United Nations Program for Development
- The small
number of professionals receiving a Ph.D. from Chilean universities, as
well as minimal Chilean participation in the generation of high level
scientific knowledge, not to mention the limited number of patents granted
to Chilean inventors, suggests that the country is far behind in the creation
of scientific knowledge and the development of new technologies (National
Science Foundation , 2000, 2002).
in research and development by private companies is also insufficient,
as seen thorough the three year period between 2000 and 2002, when investments
by private companies accounted for 18% (Brunner and Elacqua, 2003).
of these statistics, the development of science and technology is a must
for Chile, a challenge that will demand making decisions regarding public
policies as well as assessing the capability of the Chilean university
system’s ability to fulfill future needs.
competitiveness in research and development must consider multiple variables.
A natural starting point is to consider research and development projects
submitted by universities for consideration by the Chilean National Commission
of Science and Technology (CONICYT). It is also important to consider
research published in scientific journals recognized by the Institute
for Scientific Information (ISI), as well as the Scientific Electronic
Library Online (SciELO).
context, it is important to note that in 2002, 100% of technology transference
projects approved by the Chilean National Fund for Encouragement of Development
of Science and Technology (FONDEF) were originated in public universities.
Similarly, 99.2% of the research and development projects sponsored by
FONDEF were carried out by public universities.
On the other
hand, if we consider the ISI and SciELO publications submitted by Chilean
academics between 2001 and 2003, 98% of the articles in the ISI index
and 87.2 % of the works found in SciELO correspond to research originated
in public universities.
these facts, it is possible to say that meaningful research is done at
long established Chilean state universities grouped by the Consejo de
Rectores (Chilean University Presidents Council) and, as revealed by statistics,
research by private counterparts is minimal, and has yet to be proven.
the concept of “university” is closely related to academic
research, which, strictly speaking, is done by few traditional universities.
Many private institutions of higher education are institutions whose spreading
of knowledge is not based on newly own created knowledge.
of true universities, that go beyond professional training programs, is
a pending task in Chilean higher education, an enterprise that is the
most relevant in the process of successfully integrating Chile into the
society of knowledge.
Rector Universidad de Tarapacá