The migration phenomenon has been a recent and relevant topic in the Chilean public policy discussion, especially after the explosive increase in the number of migrants coming to the country in the last decade. A substantial percentage of them are living with lower incomes than the rest of the country’s population, and have fewer years of schooling. Considering the challenges Chile is facing in relation to this, higher education could play an important role, especially higher vocational education and training (HVET). More than half of those currently enrolled in higher education are enrolled in HVET courses and have a much better representation of lower-income groups than the university system. Because of its flexibility, low cost, high coverage across the country, and its less selective academic admission processes, the HVET system has the potential to respond to some of the migrant community’s fundamental needs. Based on both international and national experiences, this paper, firstly, establishes a general diagnosis for facing important challenges regarding migration within the HVET system, particularly in terms of academic, linguistic, and economic barriers. Secondly, it proposes three ways to tackle these barriers: providing orientation for the transition to higher education, changing the criteria for awarding student aids, and designing more sophisticated remedial language courses.
Roberto Flores, Duoc UC, Chile