Student Mobility in Latin America.
Student migration starts from the principle of searching for
well-being and the consequential achievement of professional competence,
intellectual and economic opportunity.
Today a student cannot be satisfied with the education received
in the university nor with the practical training in his or her
city of residence. The speed of multiculturalization of today
requires that the professional masters the largest number of international
experiences to be able to insert him or herself with ease into
the competitive labour market.
To study in a foreign country is considered as an export of the
educational services. According to the Correo of UNESCO, the commercial
value of this export of higher education for the year 2000 reached
27 million US Dollars.
With regard to this education market, the USA occupies first
place with a participation of US$ 7 million. In Latin America
the investment is less, however, as in any part of the world the
role of the exchanges in higher education is fundamental for the
development of nations, for social and technological advancement,
and thereby the integration among nations and all that is related
with cultural and intellectual mobility.
Before the 1950s Latin America was a continent of immigrants,
not emigrants. The migration of Latins to the exterior was minimal
at that time. Those who migrated were generally from the affluent
class who travelled preferably to Europe to study or for snobbism.
Today the changes in the market, the so called globalization
and the economic opening of the markets, are the key points for
the professional to expand beyond his or her borders and to study
abroad or at least to have an experience in another country. It
is not simply a question of good will but an opening of the mind,
and to experience an opportunity.
In Latin America, countries like Venezuela, Cost Rica, and Mexico
have been the historical receivers of border immigrants. The Colombians
in Venezuela constitute the largest professional continent of
emigrants between Latin American countries. There are also many
Uruguayans, Chileans and Paraguayans in the Argentine.
The USA and countries such as France, Germany and UK stand out
world wide as the countries which receive the largest number of
students. "If we consider that the total professional and technical
migration coming from Latin America is over 5,000 persons, 14
out of every 18 go to the USA." Adella Pellegrino, "Reflexiones
Sobre la Migration Calificada" (March 2000). (Thoughts on Qualified
The different programs and attempts to extend the mobility networks
have to confront the different inconveniences related to the characteristics
of the region. The economic impediments, the internal problems
in the countries, the social and economical instability are part
of the agenda that the students , institutions or programs have
to overcome every day.
All the formalities for the immigration and the obtaining of
visas, and the requirements of the foreign university, such as
the equivalencies of studies, are other difficulties that have
to be resolved.
Some of the most important institutions and programs in the field
of Latin American mobility:
1. The Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion International (AECI)
- the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation - carries out
very important work in the region with reference to alternative
ways of reinforcing investment in human capital and improving
productivity, with special emphasis in the poorest countries in
the region. For more information visit
AECI address: Avda. Reyes Catolicas, 4 28040 - Madrid, Spain
Telephone: 583 85 71 - 583 83 03 - 583 84 37
Fax: 583 83 10/11/13
MUTIS, these are scholarships awarded by the Ministerio
de Asuntos Exteriores - Ministry of Foreign Affairs - through
AECI. The Mutis program started in 1992 following the agreements
of the II Cumbre Iberoamericana de Jefes de Estado y de Gobierno
de 1992 - the Second Summit Meeting of the Latin American Heads
of State and Governments, 1992.
The MUTIS scholarships are for postgraduate studies: doctorates,
masters, thesis, and specialized courses.
For the 2001/2002 session 400 scholarships are on offer, of which
360 are for Latin American and Portuguese candidates for doctorate
studies in Spanish public universities, and 40 for Spanish candidates
for postgraduate studies in Latin American and Portuguese universities.
The necessary documentation can be obtained from the Embassies,
Consular offices, Cultural Centers or the Offices of Spanish Cooperation
which are registered in the country of origin of the candidates.
Only Spanish candidates may contact the AECI; Avda. Reyes Catolicos,
4 28040 Madrid, Spain.
Programa de Cooperacion Universitaria (PCI) - University Cooperation
Program - (Old Intercampus, was created in 1997). This program
operates in collaboration with the AECI, it awards scholarships
for exchanging docents, students and administrative staff for
short periods of time. It also has the objective of drawing Latin
American and Spanish institutions together. Further information
is available in each university and Spanish Embassies in the countries
of origin. Convocations are annual. AL/E indicates flow from Latin
America to Spain and E/LA indicates the opposite.
Just to show the importance of the program : in Argentine during
seven years there was an exchange of 5479 universitarians, of
which 2616 were students and Argentinian professors.
IBERCUE - Programa Iberoamericano de Cooperacion Universidad-Empresa
- Latinamerican Program of Cooperation between University and
Private Enterprise - its intention is to contribute to the creation
and development of efficient and permanent relationships between
the University, the Science and Technology systems and the world
of the private sector, and the implementation of cooperative activities
which will strengthen the relationship between the scientific
and production communities in Latin America. For more information
Cooperacion Cientifica con Iberoamerica MEC - MAE - Scientific
Cooperation with Latin America - (AECI Program). This program
was created to promote joint activities within the framework of
"scientific research projects for Spanish and Latin American technicians
and scientists, as well as the transfer of knowledge through post
CYTED: Programa Iberoamericano de Ciencia y Tecnologia
para el Desarrollo - Latin American program for Science and Technology
for Development - This "horizontal" international program for
scientific and technological cooperation was created in 1984 .
At present 7,500 scientists from 26 countries are integrated into
46 thematic networks. The CYTED promotes the mobility of Latin
American scientists and experts, and interregional cooperation.
For more information visit:
or telephone the General Secretary at 34915316387.
2. The European Union has created the ALFA program for
academic cooperation with Latin America.
ALFA Program Office
36, Rue Joseph II, 4th Floor, B - 1000 Brussels
Te: 32 2 219 04 53
Fax: 320 2 219 63 84
European Commission: Directorate of External Relations
Directorate: Latin America
Unit: Horizontal Affairs
Address: Rue de la Loi, B - 1049 Brussels
Fax: 32 2 299 39 41
ALFA - America-Latina Formacion Academica - Academic Training
for Latin America - is a program created by the European Commission
on March 10, 1994. The priority activity of ALFA is special training
destined to create high level resources within the framework of
regional cooperation. Among its principle objectives is the encouragement
of cooperation between the institutions of higher education in
Latin America and Europe, thereby creating networks for the implementation
of joint academic activities; the mobility of postgraduates and
university students, as well as other activities which contribute
to regional integration.
It is important to know that individuals cannot apply personally,
only through the university networks (there are at least 3 in
Europe and 2 in Latin America).
ALFA consists of three subprograms:
Subprogram A: cooperation between institutions of higher
Subprogram B: postgraduate exchange;
Subprogram C: student exchange.
One can apply for participation in the ALFA program throughout
the year. Requests are evaluated twice a year, in June and December.
For further information visit:
3. OEI - Organizacion de Estados Iberoamericanos para
la Education, la Ciencia y la Cultura - Organisation of Latin
American States for Education, Science and Culture: this organization
promotes the PIMA program through its Higher Education Cooperation
Program. Its internet address is http://aaa.oei.es/superior.htm
PIMA - Programa de Intercambio y Movilidad Academica - Program
for Academic Exchange and Mobility - The objective of this program
is to strengthen inter-university cooperation and encourage the
development of the Latin American dimension of higher level education,
through the development of multilateral higher level student exchange
projects in the region. The 2001 - 2002 cycle is now closed. For
further information about application procedures consult:
Who can apply ?
High level students who have 50% of their courses completed and
approved, who study at universities which participate in the PIMA
project, whose studies are pertinent to the thematic areas on
offer and who apply at their university, comply with the requirements
of PIMA and their university.
4. Other programs
Fulbright Commission: This is a North American Government program,
which has benefited more than 250,000 people from more than 140
countries, of which a large percentage came from Latin American
countries. For further information visit:
Le Fundacion Carolina - The Carolina Foundation: This foundation
was created in the year 2000 and develops two principle activities:
scholarships and the "visitors" program. Information about the
scholarships can be found at: http://www.fundacioncarolina.es/becas/indew.htm.
These scholarships are for the Latin Amercan community with the
exception of Spain. The foundation headquarters are in Madrid
in the Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion International - Spanish
Agency for International Cooperation: for further information
It is important to search for inter-university agreements for
each university, for example the Universidad Complutense de Madrid,
or the exchange scholarships between countries, for example the
exchange scholarships for research between Canada - Latin America
and the Caribbean,
The Latin American "Brain Drain"
Very often the social difficulties of Latin America impede students
and professionals to dream of a better future, and therefore they
dream about how to leave their country to work and feel valued,
rather than sacrificing themselves for their country and make
there way in their own land. Migration starts from the desire
to search for well-being.
The young of Latin America prepare themselves in their country
of origin, completing primary school, secondary school and then
before finishing their degree, many begin searching for student
exchanges with other countries. When economic resources permit
the young graduates search other horizons which may offer better
infrastructures. The number of Latin American brains which leave
is in the hundreds and they can be found in all the countries
of the world.
The "brain drain" is stimulated principally by the demand from
the scientific and industrial complexes of the developed economies.
As the offer is excessive in the under developed economies, and
the demand strong in the industrialized countries, this favours
the mobility of qualified workers.
The Colombian Case
At the present moment, Colombia lives a social crisis that is
reflected in the quantity of brains that have left. During the
last three years, 2,6 million Colombians travelled abroad, of
which 600,000 have not returned, and it is estimated that of 100
Colombians that stay abroad 20 are part of the brain drain.
The problem is complex, the country invests in its citizens,
and when they leave this constitutes a loss in the investment
in the human resources of that country. According to Rodrigo Acosta,
analyst for National Planning, "Last year Colombia lost about
US$ 2.000 million due to the emigration of persons with three
or more years higher education. In other words Colombians who
have been educated and trained for 15 or more years."
Another aspect is related to the countrys need for qualified
professionals who can take on the challenges of economic recovery.
With the brain drain, the search is made difficult and the opportunities
diminish. Equally the country constantly feels the negative costs
due to the drain or loss of its growth engines.
The TOKTEN program
The TOKTEN program facilitates the transfer of knowledge from
expatriates through a short stay in their country of origin to
enable them to share and offer the knowledge which they have acquired
abroad. TOKTEN consultants fulfill a mission which otherwise would
be assigned to an international expert. The work is voluntary,
which helps to reduce the costs since the professionals do not
need time to adapt to the cultural environment nor the language.
For more information and to register as a TOKEN candidate, contact