Paul Lachine

La interpretación errónea de la educación superior

CAMBRIDGE – Desde que los economistas revelaron cuánto las universidades contribuyen al crecimiento económico, los políticos han prestado mayor atención a la educación superior. Sin embargo, al hacerlo a menudo ellos interpretan erróneamente el papel que desempeñan las universidades en formas que socaban sus políticas en el ámbito educativo.

Por ejemplo, Barack Obama, presidente de los Estados Unidos, ha enfatizado repetitivamente la necesidad de aumentar el porcentaje de jóvenes estadounidenses que obtienen un título universitario. Sin duda, este es un objetivo meritorio que puede contribuir a la prosperidad nacional y que puede ayudar a que los jóvenes alcancen el sueño americano. Sin embargo, los economistas que han estudiado la relación entre la educación y el crecimiento económico confirman lo que el sentido común sugiere: el número de títulos universitarios no es, ni de lejos, tan importante como el nivel y la calidad del desarrollo de las habilidades cognitivas de los estudiantes, como ser el desarrollo del pensamiento crítico y de la capacidad para resolver problemas.

No reconocer este punto puede  acarrear consecuencias significativas. A medida que los países adoptan la educación superior masiva, el costo de mantenimiento de las universidades se incrementa dramáticamente en comparación a un sistema de élite. Debido a que los gobiernos tienen muchos otros programas que apoyar –  y las personas se muestran renuentes a pagar  más impuestos – encontrar el dinero para pagar por tales esfuerzos se torna cada vez más difícil. Por lo tanto, las universidades deben tratar de proporcionar una educación de calidad a una mayor cantidad de  estudiantes, gastando la menor cantidad de dinero que sea posible.

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