Research-focused universities take the lead in Chile

Change in balance between teaching and research-focused universities is an indicator of progress, say analysts

January 9, 2018

Chile has more research-based than teaching-only universities for the first time in the country’s history, with nine institutions offering seven or more accredited doctorate programmes this year.

Just five years ago, teaching institutions outnumbered “complex” universities – those focusing on research as well as teaching six or seven PhDs across three or more disciplines – according to research group Gea Universitas.

Publishing its annual ranking of Chilean universities in Spanish language newspaper El Mercurio, the private, non-profit body measured 46 institutions for quality of student and academic output, along with factors such as the average number of years taken for students to graduate in each subject.

The Pontifical Catholic University of Chile – the country’s oldest higher education institution – was named top for research and PhD programmes in the country, followed by the University of Chile and University of Concepción..

Between 2012 and 2017, the percentage of universities offering accredited doctorate programmes doubled from 26 to 52 per cent, it noted, suggesting positive progress for the reputation of Chilean research.

“For a country like Chile – which must become an economy of knowledge if it is to continue to prosper – [the fact the number of research-led universities has increased] is a positive fact,” the report concludes, “since in order to reach that goal it must considerably increase its current capacity to generate knowledge”.

The capacity to open more research faculties is also an indicator of universities dedicating more funding towards research, a common barrier for many Latin American institutions, the report suggested.

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