In Colombia, the beginning of a new century has brought with it a palpable feeling of optimism. Colombians and visitors sense that the country's considerable potential can be realised, and education is rightly seen as crucial to this process. As opportunities expand, Colombians will need new and better skills to respond to new challenges and prospects.
The government is therefore determined to address key challenges confronting tertiary education in the country: expanding enrolment and improving equity, increasing quality and relevance, and making governance and finance more responsive. Colombia has more than a decade of progress under its belt, and the energy to reach ambitious policy goals. Getting there in practice will involve dialogue and consensus-seeking among all stakeholders, as well as new resources and new rules.
Not by bread alone gathers essays on higher education, including some written especially for this book. They cover three key areas: the missions of higher education, public responsibility and qualifications. Together, these essays spell out a view of higher education as a key factor in developing modern societies built on the fundamental Council of Europe values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. They also underline the key role of higher education in developing the ability of our societies to conduct intercultural dialogue.
To fulfil its role, higher education needs to prepare for citizenship as well as for employment, for personal development as well as for the development of a broad knowledge base. Our vision of higher education and its multiple purposes must be reflected in the way we view qualifications. We also need to take a close look at how the public responsibility for higher education and research can best be exercised in a society with many actors, all of which have their own legitimate agendas. In this situation, public authorities have an overall responsibility for coherent education policies.