The agreement modality continues to be the most frequent mechanism used for international cooperation among the institutions. This mechanism, that represents the traditional mode for academic internationalization, continues being the most common practice in Latin America with regard to their relationships with the external academic world, with countries of the same region, but also with other countries out of the region, especially Spain, followed by the United States.
Costs of New Providers Programs
There is little information with regard to their costs. However, if we consider some of the updated scarce information, it is possible to point out some tendencies. From Bolivia, the information gathered is as follows: in four cases it was found that enrollment costs were below US$ 1.000; other 4 cases the media was between US$ 1.000 and 3.000; there were seven cases showing figures between US$ 5,000 and 10.000; and in one case it was over US$ 10.000. Nonetheless, the most frequent ones (20 cases) seem to range between 3.000 and 5.000 dollars. These costs appear to be lower than some of the most important private universities, as the cost for a Master’s degree in the Universidad Católica Bolivariana (Bolivarian Catholic University) amounts to US$ 9.000, “far beyond the offer of the Fundación Iberoamericana (Ibero-American Foundation) which costs US$ 5.000, being even lower when it is possible to have a scholarship. In that case, the cost is US$ 1.400 (Peña Davidson et. al., 2004:48)
In Central America, a region with a great number of new foreign providers, some of the costs gathered are: Atlantic International University: between US$ 4.200 and 5.200, depending on the option of the degree; UNED, Spain: the cost for the diplomatic bodies are between US$ 50 and 154; INTEC, Monterrey, between US$ 930 and 2,070, also depending on the degree; Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile: US$ 25.000 for Master, which includes provision of books and airfares as well as expenses on a weekly basis with room allocations; Grupo Santillana, Spain, the enrollment costs is from US$ 3.500 to 6.500 for Master; Columbus University costs are from US$ 1.512 to 2.616, also depending on the degree; Universidad de Texas A&M: US$ 5.775 for Master degrees. (Estrada y Luna, 2004).
In Colombia, a large amount of propaganda is published regarding foreign programs for distance learning. During the year 2003, 121 programs were offered proceeding from: the United States 74 institutions, Spain 24 institutions; followed from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Canada, Argentina, Ireland, Australia, and Panama. Also there are other institutions whose campus sites have not been identified, nor the country of origin. The costs that have been registered were: Universidad de Madison (Madison University): between US$ 1.975 to 2.775 depending on the degree; Tecnológico de Monterrey (Monterrey Technological): between US$ 943 to 3.100, also depending on the degree; Phoenix University: between US$ 440/credit-hour to US$ 620/credit-hour, depending on the degree. (Zarur Miranda, 2004).
In Peru the following costs are reported: Instituto de la Empresa de Madrid (Enterprise Institute of Madrid): between 19.850 and 33.850 Euros, depending on the degree. Universidad Adolfo Ibañez (Adolfo Ibañez University), in Chile: between US$ 19.000 and 22.000 which also depends on the degree; Duke University: US$ 29.600 for Master. (Llaque Ramos, 2004).
Regulation Mechanisms, Quality Assurance, and Accreditation Systems
One of the main problems for non-advanced countries is its vulnerability vis a vis the institutions that grant diplomas that bear no guarantee of quality; institutions that have been called “fabric of diplomas”.
Most of the Latin American countries, with strong efforts and great tensions, have managed to develop national systems of evaluation and/or accreditation in the decade of the nineties. Even though they didn’t include mechanisms of regulation for the foreign providers, and when they were incorporated, it does not necessarily guarantee its application. For example, in the case of Argentina, since 1998, there exists a resolution that regulates the offer for distance education; yet it is not applicable when a foreign university doesn’t settle in the country, because the offer is done via Internet. (Marquis (2002). In those cases, the law in Argentina cannot regulate it or set up conditions with regards to its performance.
As far as Brazil is concerned, there exists a Resolution since 1997 that affirm that grade diplomas and postgraduate degrees obtained in courses dictated in Brazil offered by foreign institutions in the modalities of partial presence or at distance, shall not be revalidated nor recognized, or by means of any form of association with Brazilian institutes without proper authorization of the respective Public Entity. Yet the American World University did not consider this Resolution applicable to their case and the argument they offered was that they held no campus in Brazil but in the State of Iowa and in Hawaii (United States of America) and therefore the students are considered as matriculates at AWU (in the USA) whereas they do not have to follow the Brazilian Institutions’ laws. (Marquis, 2002).
Brazil is one of the Latin America countries that has adopted a quite surveillance attitude, with the aim of preserving the quality of its postgraduate courses. In this sense, the Ministry of Education by means of their Internet page, provides information regarding authorized Institutes for pre-grades; and CAPES14 does its own for postgraduate courses. Notwithstanding all these efforts, the Ministry of Education of Brazil considers that some 4,000 students are nowadays enrolled in irregular courses. On the other hand, the National Council for Education and the Higher Educations Chamber demanded, in April 2001, that the postgraduate courses offered in the country by foreign institutions, directly or by means of an agreement with national institutions, should suspend the process of admission of new students.15 Also, this country decided to suspend concessions for new study scholarships to certain foreign institutions. (Marquis, 2002).
However the defensive measures may be effective in the short run, the protectionism is a very limited solution, mainly when it refers to processes that surpass national frontiers. Hence, here is where the provisions of international frameworks on regulations hold a fundamental role in transnational education, due to the vulnerability of the countries as they are facing fraudulent institutions. There exists a research held by the proper North American State questioning some 200 North American fraudulent institutions.16