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Ingeniare. Revista chilena de ingeniería

On-line version ISSN 0718-3305

Ingeniare. Rev. chil. ing. vol.25 no.2 Arica June 2017 


The resource allocation to State universities in the context of accountability: The logic of Macro Agreements in the case of Chile

Alvaro Palma-Quiroz

Emilio Rodríguez-Ponce2 

1Vicerrectoría de Administración y Finanzas. Universidad de Tarapacá. Arica, Chile.

2 Instituto de Alta Investigación. Universidad de Tarapacá Arica, Chile.

Nowadays, in the information and knowledge society the essential source of the competitiveness of nations is the ability of creation and dissemination of advanced knowledge, capacity that also depends on the formation of advanced human capital. In this context, it is relevant to point out that Chile is positioned at N° 35 in the ranking of competitiveness World Economic Forum, representing a decrease of eight places in the last ten years. For its part, the country's productivity fell throughout 2015, which was added to a decreasing trend that began in mid-2013, reaching ten quarters of steady decline in this indicator. Thus, the options available to the country to increase their collective effectiveness, in terms of achieving competitiveness and productivity required in order to actively participate in the information and knowledge society are necessarily determined by the capacity of its system of higher education to generate knowledge and advanced human capital.

From this point of view, many countries, particularly developed countries have implemented funding mechanisms to their university systems based on a variety of performance targets, which exceed teaching of tertiary level. Accordingly, the Ministry of Education of Chile has designed a relations system with state universities to promote the strengthening of these institutions, but under a logic of accountability and giving an explicit signal in relation to state universities should increase their complexity to meet the requirements of society from research, innovation and connection with the surroundings.

Macro agreements, name given to relations system and performance funding driven by the Ministry of Education with state universities consist of the allocation of public resources for specific purposes that lead to the generation of public goods and to strengthening institutions and maximize their contribution to the environment. So, this mechanism of funding does not provide resources freely available but state universities must meet a multiyear plan, which must also be disseminated both within the institution as well as to regional and national "stakeholders" that are relevant to state institutions.

The specific instrument of the Chilean case demands universities to implement a Multi-Year Plan. However, it is important to distinguish that this multiyear plan is not strictly the Institutional Strategic Development Plan, but corresponds to a subset of actions interest of the Ministry of Education and which can be aligned with the mission of the institution. Therefore, the Multi-Year Plan does not replace or substitute in any way the institutional commitments defined in its Plan of Institutional Strategic Development, but rather is a strategic complement of relevance, that serves interests of the State and must be articulated with the objectives of qualitative and quantitative improvement that state institutions have as goal.

Macro agreements in Chile require deepening levels of complexity of institutions, because they should report through tasks referring not only to teaching but also research, innovation and connection with the surroundings. In fact, the only teaching work in which macro agreements focus on consists of initial training of teachers.

Therefore, the perspective that underlies the ministerial proposal aims to move towards the consolidation of a concept comprehensive university. That is, the state universities should strengthen not only the teaching work but also research and innovation. Moreover, a university without postgraduate, research and innovation tends to assimilate rather to a professional or technical institute that to a university in the context of the knowledge society.

Undergraduate and graduate teaching, research and connection with the surroundings are essential and indispensable academic functions of state universities. The interweaving of these functions in a model of university complexity becomes even more relevant when considering that the reform of higher education proposes to categorize universities according to whether they succeed or not in accrediting all its areas of operation. To the extent that such categorization is also associated with the allocation of public resources, implementation strongly would affect the development opportunities of universities, tending to establish hierarchies of higher education system around the complexity of functions that assumes a specific institution.

Consequently, the macro agreements do not mean unrestricted funds for state universities, imply accountability for their use. Use which also should be for specific purposes of interest of the Ministry of Education. In any case, to the extent that the design of a multi-year plan required for the macro agreements is consistent with the university purposes, it is possible to generate strategic high-impact actions for the effective strengthening of state universities and for positioning in the regions where it operates as in the System Quality Assurance in the country.

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