Hans-Peter Knudsen Q.

Rector, Universidad del Rosario

President Santos has indicated that 10% of the oil and natural resources revenue will be invested in science, technology, and innovation, and that is a huge jump. However, even though the resources are in place, we do not have the desired number of people with a PhD or the infrastructure for research labs. We are significantly increasing the number of international faculty coming to Colombia and making joint ventures and strategic alliances with research centers and universities worldwide. Universidad del Rosario used to concentrate only on teaching, but in the 1990s we decided to move toward a teaching university offering high quality research, with the aim that within 50 years we could transform into a research university. It is a challenging transformation, but I think we are doing it well in the areas where we can conduct high-quality research. For example, we have a team of 34 scientists researching a vaccine for malaria. We have a very accomplished group of experts in autoimmune diseases, and we are starting a high-level natural sciences school, which we were previously lacking.

Jesús Ferro Bayona

Rector, Universidad del Norte

We welcome government efforts to facilitate the access of all types of students to university through, for example, wider financial tools. We need to further invest in widening coverage, as well as further increasing quality standards in the higher education sector in Colombia. The country has around 350 higher education institutions, and quality is a key determinant in education. To raise quality standards, more investment is needed. For example, we must strengthen certification processes at the national level; today, no more than 30 institutions out of the 350 across the country pass minimum standards nationally, in accordance with the main regulatory and certification bodies in Colombia. The Universidad del Norte prioritizes a student's transformation during his/her education stage, and I believe that should be the trend among other universities and higher education centers in the country. In 2000, our university had less than 1% of its student body coming from the low-income social strata, whereas now that figure stands at 30%.

Juan Carlos Henao Pérez

Rector, Universidad Externado de Colombia

The university has exchange programs and a number of other international agreements that allow our students to learn about the global context and interact with it, offering dual degrees that are recognized in the best schools of higher education on several continents. Over the years, Universidad Externado de Colombia has materialized over 187 international agreements for academic programs with, among others, the following reputable universities: Université Panthéon-Assas Paris-II, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, Université Toulouse I Capitole, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Columbia University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Universidad Carlos III of Madrid, Universita degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza, Ruhr-University Bochum (Germany), the University of Wollongong (Australia), and the University of Manitoba. It thus promotes the universal education of teachers and students, the development of better and more relevant research, the acquisition and exchange of culture, knowledge, and work and study materials.

Pablo Navas Sanz de Santamaría

Rector, Universidad de los Andes

In general, engineering represents about 45% of our number of students and research. In 2012, the university was accredited by AMBA, a US accreditation institution. That is very unique and it opens up a lot of opportunities for our graduates, as it is a faculty that has been growing. In the mining sector, we feel there are shortages of Colombian engineers, and we are working to find a solution. Three years ago, we created a new program called “geoscience” or “sciences of the Earth.” It is not in the engineering faculty but in the science faculty, though there are a lot of connections with engineering. One of the things that characterizes this university is that about 22% of our students are graduating in two disciplines. This gives them a broader view of what is happening in the world, and it is a much more thorough and solid education. There are institutions that have really progressed over the last two decades, but there is a long way to go. As with most Latin American countries, only a fraction of the people have access to higher education.