Higher Education

, Volume 77, Issue 6, pp 1015–1030 | Cite as

Market- and government-based higher education reforms in Latin America: the cases of Peru and Ecuador, 2008–2016

  • Martin BenavidesEmail author
  • Adriana Arellano
  • Julio Sebastián Zárate Vásquez


National higher education systems have undergone a series of transformations in recent decades. Since the 1980s, regulatory systems governing higher education have witnessed a number of changes. In particular, there has been a shift away from a model of state control, to one of state oversight, in which the state designs a framework of rules and policy objectives for the system as a whole, and institutions have greater freedom to establish their own mission and pursue their own priorities (Neave and Van Vught 1991, quoted in Musselin and Teixeira 2014:4). The differences between one country and another in terms of the type of regulation that is adopted are the result of political and ideological factors. This study contributes to the debate by describing the transformation of two higher education systems in Latin America. Through an analysis of a series of documents, legislation, and norms, as well as media reports on the matter, we show how in each of the two countries, different relationships between the market, the state, and the universities have emerged, and can be explained by political factors and ideological contexts of each country. In the case of Ecuador, the definition of policies, university autonomy, and the creation of regulatory agencies allows the state’s presence and political influence to be felt, while in Peru, a market-based philosophy guides educational policy and content. Thus, in Ecuador, in contrast to Peru, the university itself is less autonomous, and the university system is governed by the principle of responsible autonomy, with limitations in the form of supervisory and quality control responsibilities distributed among public organizations, where representatives of the executive branch make up the majority of board directorships. The regulatory process is less gradual in nature, which may have hastened the closure of universities. In this sense, we will discuss how the different ideological contexts and relationships between social and political actors lead, on the one hand, to government-based regulation (Ecuador), and on the other, to a market-oriented framework (Peru). Although technocracy is a characteristic of both processes, there are nuances in the way the relationship between the state, market, and universities develops.


Higher education reforms Latin America Peru Ecuador State intervention 


  1. Benavides, M., Chávez, C., & Arellano, A. (2016). La Construcción Política e Institucional de la Reforma Universitaria: Los casos del Perú y Ecuador. In S. Cueto (Ed.), Innovación y Calidad en Educación en América Latina (pp. 155–194). Lima: GRADE.Google Scholar
  2. Bernasconi, A. (2008). Is there a Latin American model of the university? Comparative Education Review, 52(1), 27–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. British Council. (2016). La reforma del sistema universitario peruano: Internacionalización, avance, retos y oportunidades. Lima: British Council.Google Scholar
  4. Brunner, J. J. (1990). Educación superior en América Latina: Cambios y Desafíos. Santiago de Chile: Fondo de Cultura Económica.Google Scholar
  5. Brunner, J. J. (2011). University governance: typology, dynamics and trends. Revista de Educación, 355, 137–159.Google Scholar
  6. CEAACES. (2013). “Suspendida por falta de calidad”. El cierre de catorce universidades en Ecuador. Quito: Consejo de Evaluación, Acreditación y Aseguramiento de la Calidad de la Educación Superior.Google Scholar
  7. Clark, B. R. (1983). The higher education system: Academic organization in cross national perspective. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  8. Clemens, E. S., & Cook, J. M. (1999). Politics and institutionalism: explaining durability and change. Annual Review of Sociology, 25(1), 441–466. Scholar
  9. Clemens, E. S. (2007). Toward a historicized sociology: theorizing events, processes, and emergence. Annual Review of Sociology, 33(1), 527–549. Scholar
  10. Congreso de la República del Ecuador. (2010). Ley Orgánica de Educación superior. Quito: Congreso de la República del Ecuador.Google Scholar
  11. Congreso de la República del Ecuador. (2008). Decreto 982. Registro Oficial 311. Quito: Congreso de la República del Ecuador.Google Scholar
  12. Congreso de la República del Perú. (1983). Ley Universitaria N° 23733. Lima: Congreso de la República del Perú.Google Scholar
  13. Congreso de la República del Perú. (2014). Ley N° 30220. Ley Universitaria. Lima: Congreso de la República del Perú.Google Scholar
  14. CNSRU. (2002). Diagnóstico de la universidad peruana: Razones Para una nueva reforma universitaria. Lima: Congreso de la República del Perú.Google Scholar
  15. De Boer, H., Enders, J., & Schimank, U. (2007). On the way towards new public management? The governance of University Systems in England, the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany. In D. Jansen (Ed.), New forms of governance in research organizations. Disciplinary approaches, interfaces and integration (pp. 137–152). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  16. De Figueiredo-Cowen, M. (2002). Latin American universities, academic freedom and autonomy: a long-term myth? Comparative Education, 38(4), 471–484. Scholar
  17. Dobbins, M. (2011). Higher education policies in central and Eastern Europe. Convergence towards a common model? Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan UK.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Enders, J., de Boer, H., & Leisyte, L. (2008). On striking the right notes: Shifts in governance and the Organisational transformation of universities. In A. Amaral, I. Bleiklie, & C. Musselin (Eds.), From governance to identity. A Festschrift for Mary Henkel (pp. 113–129). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Espinoza Díaz, O. (2010). Los sistemas de aseguramiento de la calidad en la educación Superior en América Latina. Akademeia, 1(1), 7–22.Google Scholar
  20. Frank, D., & Meyer, J. (2007). University expansion and the knowledge society. Theory and Society, 36(4), 287–311. Scholar
  21. Gornitzka, Å., & Maassen, P. A. M. (2000). Hybrid steering approaches with respect to European higher education. Higher Education Policy., 13(3), 267–287. Scholar
  22. Hega, G. M., & Hokenmaier, K. G. (2002). The welfare state and education: a comparison of social and educational policy in advanced industrial countries. German Policy Studies, 2(1), 1–28.Google Scholar
  23. Heidenheimer, A. J. (1981). Education and social security entitlements in Europe and America. In P. Flora & A. J. Heidenheimer (Eds.), The development of welfare states in Europe and America (pp. 265–304). London: Transaction Books.Google Scholar
  24. Hokenmaier, K. G. (1998). Social security vs. educational opportunity in advanced industrial societies: is there a trade-off? American Journal of Political Science, 42(2), 709–711. Scholar
  25. Hüther, O., & Krücken, G. (2013). Hierarchy and power: a conceptual analysis with particular reference to new public management reforms in German universities. European Journal of Higher Education, 3(4), 307–323. Scholar
  26. Martens, K., Nagel, A., Windzio, M., & Weymann, A. (2010). Transformation of education policy. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan UK.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Meyer, J., Ramirez, F. O., Frank, D., & Schofer, E. (2006). Higher education as an institution. California: CDDRL Working Papers.Google Scholar
  28. MINEDU. (2006). La universidad en el Perú: Razones Para una segunda reforma universitaria. Informe 2006. Lima: Ministerio de Educación del Perú.Google Scholar
  29. Minteguiaga, A. (2012). Los vaivenes en la regulación y evaluación de la educación superior en Ecuador. El caso del Mandato 14 en el contexto constituyente. In SENESCYT, Transformar la universidad para transformar la sociedad (pp. 83–123). Quito: SENESCYT.Google Scholar
  30. Musselin, C. (2005). Change or continuity in higher education governance? Lessons drawn from twenty years of National Reforms in European countries. In I. Bleiklie & M. Henkel (Eds.), Governing knowledge. A study of continuity and change in higher education - a Festschrift in honour of Maurice Kogan (pp. 65–80). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  31. Musselin, C., & Teixeira, P. N. (2014). Introduction. In C. Musselin & P. Teixeira (Eds.), Reforming higher education. Public policy design and implementation (pp. 1–17). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  32. Neave, G. (1996). Homogenization, integration, and convergence: The Chershire cats of higher education analysis. In V. L. Meek, L. Goedegebuure, O. Kivinen, & R. Rinne (Eds.), The mockers and mocked: Comparative perspectives on differentiation, convergence and diversity in higher education (pp. 26–41). Oxford: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  33. Neave, G. (2003). The Bologna declaration: Some of the historic dilemmas posed by the reconstruction of the Community in Europe’s Systems of Higher Education. Educational Policy, 17(1), 141–164. Scholar
  34. Neave, G., & van Vught, F. A. (eds) (1991). Prometheus bound: The changing relationship between government and higher education in western Europe. London: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  35. Oszlak, O. (2004). Privatización y capacidad de regulación estatal: una aproximación teórico-metodológica. In L. Bresser-Pereira, N. Cunill Grau, L. Garnier, O. Oszlak, & A. Przeworski (Eds.), Política y gestión pública (pp. 139–194). Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica.Google Scholar
  36. Pechar, H., & Andres, L. (2011). Higher-education policies and welfare regimes: international comparative perspective. Higher Education Policy, 24(1), 25–52. Scholar
  37. Pelaez, L., & Stretch, B. (1963). Autonomy and student co-government in the University of Uruguay. Comparative Education Review, 7(2), 166–172. Scholar
  38. Ramírez, R. (2013). Tercera Ola de transformación de la educación superior en Ecuador. Hacia la constitucionalización de la sociedad del buen vivir. Quito: SENESCYT.Google Scholar
  39. Ramirez, F. O., & Tiplic, D. (2014). In pursuit of excellence? Discursive patterns in European higher education research. Higher Education, 67(4), 439–455. Scholar
  40. Regini, M. (2011). European universities and the challenge of the market: A comparative analysis. Aldershot: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rivera, E. (2004). Teorías de la regulación en la perspectiva de las políticas públicas. Gestión y Política Pública, XIII(2), 309–372.Google Scholar
  42. Rojas, J. (2011). Reforma universitaria en el Ecuador. Etapa de transición. Innovación Educativa, 11(57), 59–67.Google Scholar
  43. SUNEDU. (2015). El Modelo de Licenciamiento y su Implementación en el Sistema Universitario Peruano. Lima: Superintendencia Nacional de Educación Superior Universitaria.Google Scholar
  44. Teixeira, P., et al. (2004). Markets in higher education. Rhetoric or reality? Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  45. Triventi, M. (2014). Higher education regimes: an empirical classification of higher education systems and its relationship with student accessibility. Quality and Quantity, 48(3), 1685–1703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Vela, M. (2012). En busca de la excelencia académica... ¿en serio? Revista Gestión, 217, 16–30.Google Scholar
  47. Weise, C., & Laguna, J. L. (2008). La Educación superior en la región andina: Bolivia, Perú y Ecuador. Avaliação: Revista da Avaliação da Educação Superior (Campinas), 13(2), 425–450. Scholar

Other references

  1. CORRESPONSALES.PE. (2014). ¿Cómo se distribuyeron los votos para aprobar la nueva Ley Universitaria?
  2. DIARIO EL COMERCIO DE PERU. (2014a). Superman, por Alfredo Bullard. Accessed 6 Oct 2018.
  3. DIARIO EL COMERCIO DE PERU. (2014b). Torpezas legislativas, por Enrique Bernales. Accessed 6 Oct 2018.
  4. EL TIEMPO. (2010). Marcha estudiantil contra proyecto de Ley de Educación.
  5. EL UNIVERSO. (2010). Incidentes en marcha de universitarios por veto a la Ley de Educación Superior.
  6. USFQ. (2009). Carta abierta: USFQ en la marcha.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Benavides
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Adriana Arellano
    • 3
  • Julio Sebastián Zárate Vásquez
    • 1
  1. 1.Group for the Analysis of DevelopmentLimaPeru
  2. 2.Department of Social SciencesPontificia Universidad Católica del Perú PUCPLimaPeru
  3. 3.GRUPO FAROQuitoEcuador

Personalised recommendations