Mexico’s Higher Education System Struggling to Become Globally Competitive

In a bid to make Mexico higher education a more widely-recognized global entity, the recently appointed president of Mexico and his government are in motion to address some important policy challenges that they believe will lead the country's sagging higher education system to the top of the international rankings.

Since Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto took office at the end of 2012, his government has taken on some serious policy challenges. The government recently introduced an education reform with a view to raising teaching standards and holding Mexican teachers more accountable at the K-12 level through changes such as the introduction of across-the-board performance evaluations — a controversial measure to eliminate corruption in the profession that proved unpopular with Mexico's teachers unions.

According 2013 QS World University Rankings, considered by many to be the gold standard of rankings in global higher education, Mexico did not have a single university represented within the top 100.

According to David Felsen of International Business Times, there was some disappointment among Latin American countries with the QS rankings, with leaders saying that they cannot fully capture the progress made by Mexican, Brazilian and other Latin American institutions in strengthening their academic standards and in raising their global profiles. These developments were among some of the issues discussed at the most recent Conference of the Americas on International Education (CAIE), held in Monterrey, Mexico, which attracted more than 900 representatives from higher education institutions, government agencies, and multilateral organizations from across Latin America, the United States, Canada, Europe and beyond. Participants at the conference discussed and debated a number of salient global higher education themes with widespread implications, including different strategies for comprehensive internationalization, the role of global distance education, the financing of global education, and issues surrounding global education research and innovation.

Mexico's higher education officials are focused on rapid change. Many challenges lie ahead, though the government has already done much to address a range of issues confronting Mexican higher education, including improving access to higher education and increasing the retention of Mexican students. Francisco Marmolejo of the World Bank is hopeful:

Additionally, Francisco said that that Mexico has been participating actively in a number of global higher education initiatives, such as the recent U.S.-Mexico bilateral forum on higher education held in September 2013 in Mexico City and the "100,000 Strong in the Americas" initiative of the U.S. Department of State to foster international exchanges within the Americas.

However, Francisco fired a warning by saying that Mexico has not yet fully articulated a bold and comprehensive higher education strategy to promote global education, as is the case in other countries in Latin America, such as Colombia, or in other parts of the world — notably Australia.

"Mexico still needs a comprehensive internationalization strategy in higher education that integrates government, academic institutions, the private sector and civil society in a more effective way," he said.


10 31, 2013
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