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Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics


Norma Gomez, AEDE PhD Student, Receives Grant to Conduct Research on Higher Education Value in Colombia

Feb. 25, 2014

For AEDE doctoral student Norma Gomez giving back to her home country of Colombia is a motivating factor for her academic studies. Gomez, who is advised by Dr. Alessandra Faggian, recently won a prestigious grant from the government of Colombia to conduct research on the value of the higher education systems in the country. 

The grant was offered to Gomez from ICFES (Instituto Colombiano para el Fomento de la Educación Superior), a government body that promotes, manages and evaluates higher education in the country. 

The grant, which funds research for a period of 10 months, was made available through a competitive process to students enrolled in a graduate education program anywhere in the world. Grant winners will have full access to ICFES data to conduct their research. The overall goal of the project is for ICFES and the students to work together to acquire knowledge on the quality of the educational systems in Colombia with insight on how to further improve higher education in the country.

Through the grant funding, Gomez will conduct a value added assessment of college education through the lens of Colombian regions. Using the data from ICFES, Gomez will examine mandatory test scores completed by high school students at graduation with test scores from those same students upon completion of their university education. Colombia is unique in the fact that it requires mandatory testing of its students at both the end of their high school education and their college education.

Through this analysis, Gomez aims to understand the value added created by universities in Colombia. She will also examine the data based on university location to assess whether there are differences in value added in different regions of the country or geographical contexts. There are 27 states in the country that have universities.

Gomez notes, “My ultimate goal is to produce both a regional value added index and a university value added ranking by region. These indexes could be used for comparison but also be linked in the future to other relevant variables, such as regional innovation or growth.”

Gomez aims to equip the Colombia government with an understanding of the value of the differing education systems in the country, including both private and public entities. She aims to offer policymakers an understanding of the highest value educational institutions in each region of the country, as well as an understanding of how educational institutions in various regions compare to one another.

Gomez was selected to participate in the grant project from a field of 22 candidates.  For the 2013-2014 grant period, only four candidates were selected for funding to undertake their research proposals. 

February 25, 2014