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February 21, 2024

Higher Education and Social Mobility in Latin America: Challenges and Opportunities


While Latin America has seen gains in higher education enrollment, only around 52% of young adults have the opportunity to pursue a degree. This leaves millions without access to the skills and qualifications needed to access the labor market. Moreover, the quality of higher education varies across institutions, and there is a misalignment between the skills needed to enter an evolving labor market and those gained with a higher education degree. 

The Georgetown Americas Institute (GAI) held a conversation with Julio Castro, president of Universidad Andrés Bello in Chile, as he delves into the complex relationship between higher education and social mobility in Latin America. Castro will identify the challenges faced by higher education institutions today as they seek to be catalysts for social mobility. The conversation was moderated by Alejandro Werner, founding director of GAI.

The conversation was held in Spanish. 


Julio Castro is the president of Universidad Andres Bello in Chile. Previously Mr. Castro was the deputy president in the Universidad de Valparaiso, where he was also a professor in the school of economics and law. From 2006 to 2008 he was the chief of the division of higher education in the Ministry of Education of Chile. Castro holds a B.A. in philosophy and an M.A. in public policy from the School of Industrial Engineering at the Universidad de Chile. 

Alejandro Werner is the founding director of the Georgetown Americas Institute and a non-resident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute. He recently completed almost nine years as director of the Western Hemisphere Department at the International Monetary Fund. Prior to that appointment, he was undersecretary of finance and public credit in Mexico’s Finance Ministry and held several positions in that ministry and the Central Bank. He also taught at leading universities in Mexico, Spain, and the United States. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.A. in economics from Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM).