As a consequence of major crises and/or unexpected events such as COVID-19, many organizations had to change their way of acting, to the point of improving their processes or in some cases just trying not to fall, not to disappear.

Higher education was no stranger to this change, as many institutions were forced to close their doors to care for the welfare of students, teachers, etc. and, therefore, to stop providing a traditional education designed in a group and face-to-face format.

In a process of recovering ground and not keeping their doors closed until an undefined future, these institutions found themselves in a situation of adopting new tools or waiting for the crisis to end.

Some higher education institutions in Latin America had a great adaptation to this change, because they were ahead of the curve. Years ago, they were beginning to implement new technology, train students in their new culture, structure and/or process; all thinking about continuous improvement and not survival in the face of unforeseen events.

On the contrary, other institutions, had little or no digital transformation, so instead of supporting students with an efficient and effective education, they only offered a service that was not up to their cost; they offered a service using their staff and their consumers as an experimental sample.

The following are some important items mentioned in a study by the Inter-American Development Bank.

Challenges of higher education in Latin America.


Access to higher education has increased in recent years, but it is due more to the demand of the population than to the opportunity provided by these institutions, it is due more to the number of graduates from secondary education institutions than to the enrollments offered.

There is still a large gap in access to education at all levels. In the case of higher education, it is noted that “disadvantaged ethnic groups are 15% less likely to have access to higher education”.

Of the social groups with fewer economic resources, only 5% of them managed to enroll in a higher education institution.

Education in Latin America is a point of looks between people who must guarantee its quality, what are those in charge, at the institution and state level, doing to reduce the gaps presented, did the digital transformation help to reduce these gaps?

-Quality assurance:

Institutions are starting to implement new technology, new resources, but how much is technology linked to educational quality?

In many cases, it is believed that technology will improve procedures, and they are not far from the truth, but to achieve this, digitalization is not enough.

We must also focus on the following; what we are going to use this technology for, how it will help in the academic processes, how it will improve the quality of education.

If we implement something, we find ourselves in the need and the obligation to make it productive. And the way to make a new resource productive is by adapting it to our growth, by training our student community, by generating a cultural transformation accompanied by a digital transformation.

-Lack of alignment with the needs of the workforce:

Latin America, compared to other sectors, has a difficulty when it comes to linking what is taught with what is needed.

How many of the skills, learned in the years of higher education, are useful to us at the time of developing in the workplace.

Faced with the lack of guarantee of acquiring productive competencies for adaptation in work environments, students find themselves in the need to continually train in other institutions, to seek other means to survive in a competitive world.

Then the questions arise: Do we really know what employers are looking for today, and is our education designed for yesterday’s or tomorrow’s workforce?