TBY talks to Carlos Cordero Díaz, Rector of Universidad del Azuay, on exchange programs, Azuay's medical program, and the government's regulatory and legislative changes in the higher education sector.

Carlos Cordero Díaz
Carlos Cordero Díaz has a degree in economics from the Universidad de Cuenca, a graduate diploma in finances and the stock market from the Universidad del Azuay, and a Master’s degree in economics from the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económica CIDE (Mexico). He has been a tenured professor at the Universidad de Cuenca and Universidad del Azuay since 1976.

What is the demographic of your student body?

We currently have 28 different career programs with a total of just under 6,000 students. Very few of them are foreign students—most are Ecuadorians. We are trying to increase the amount of foreign participation through various programs, mainly temporary student exchanges, typically over a semester or a summer, depending on the field of study. We have a number of exchange programs with universities in the US, such as Kutktown University and Taylor University, mostly in the field of medicine. We've also just begun exchange programs with universities in Chile and Colombia.

What partnerships and joint programs do you have with universities and institutions within Ecuador?

We have various partnerships and programs with universities, companies, municipalities, regional governments, and also regional university institutions. These are mostly training, research, and technology-transfer programs. In Cuenca we have various partnerships with local government, municipalities, and companies, mainly in terms of the practical application of solutions and technologies for their respective needs and purposes. Some of the more important companies with which we have links are the local electricity company Centrosur, the Provincial Council of Azuay, and a kitchen producer, Fibracero.

Azuay's medical program has been recognized for its quality and rigor. How important is this for Azuay?

We are very proud of this, because it's a relatively new degree at Azuay, with just ten years behind it. But we have observed over those ten years that we have been on the right path, and that the investment we made was well justified. What we operate here is a veritable hospital, and we've worked closely with the medical profession and the private sector to staff and run the hospital. It's a rigorous course that requires academic, research, and practical experience with a very demanding entry and selection process to the program. Of 800 applicants, we'll accept 45. So we're very proud of what we offer, and that our medical school has been recognized for its quality and excellence.

What are the biggest and most important investments Azuay will have made by the end of this year?

This year we have to complete the construction of a new floor at our Medicine Faculty, which will be mostly for labs and will allow us to expand the school so we can receive more students. We also plan other structural and physical additions to expand our campus and cater to new and increasing needs.

What developments do you expect to see in the higher education sector in Ecuador in the long term?

The new law in higher education brings about some fundamental changes, which our university supports and has been making the necessary changes according to what is required by the new law. However, there is very little time given to make the necessary adjustments to this new law, and that has been challenging. We're expecting and hoping for some flexibility on the part of authorities in this regard. But all in all, I believe the higher education system is headed in the right direction.

Do you think some further regulatory and legislative changes are needed to improve the new restructuring?

Yes, and it is important for the law not to be amended by each successive administration, but that the law remains consistent regardless of which government is in power, or what its policies may be.