Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile: UC and Hebrew University of Jerusalem authorities analyzed challenges in terms of inclusion

The meeting “Addressing diversity and inclusion in higher education” allowed to share experiences and approaches in this area, as well as advance in the collaborative work between both institutions.

With the purpose of sharing policies and challenges in the field of inclusion, the Catholic University, through the Deputy Vice President for International Affairs , and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) organized the meeting “Addressing diversity and inclusion in higher education: Sharing our visions ”. Authorities from both higher education institutions and the Israeli ambassador to Chile, Marina Rosenberg, participated in the conversation, which was held remotely.

“Inclusion is one of the great challenges facing higher education institutions around the world. As a university, we have been working for several years to reduce barriers and facilitate the full and equitable participation of the entire university community, recognizing and valuing the richness of diversity and equity as two founding values ​​of our institutional work ”, he highlighted the rector of the Catholic University, Ignacio Sánchez. He added that in Chile only 7% of young people with special educational needs have access to higher education and a smaller percentage manage to graduate. The rector referred to the policy that the UC has promoted to reduce the gaps, such as different inclusive entry routes and support and accompaniment systems for students with disabilities,

“All these efforts are born from the deep conviction that being an inclusive university makes us a better university. The diversity of races, beliefs, cultures, socioeconomic origin and educational needs, among others, enrich our educational project ”- UC Rector Ignacio Sánchez


In addition, she explained that by 2022 a new entry route will be opened aimed at women interested in the areas of physics and mathematics, which seeks to promote the training of women in scientific areas, where men have traditionally predominated. The recent creation of the Intercultural Program and the entry of students from the Chilean Afro-descendant tribal people to the intercultural admission route were other initiatives highlighted by Rector Sánchez.

“All these efforts are born from the deep conviction that being an inclusive university makes us a better university. The diversity of races, beliefs, cultures, socioeconomic origin and educational needs, among others, enrich our educational project ”, he pointed out.

The Vice President of International Affairs of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Oron Shagrir, emphasized the fact that the two universities shared the priority they give to diversity and inclusion, as well as internationalization, a policy that also allows collaborating with other institutions in the intercultural field. “I am very happy with the collaboration agreement that we have signed between the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Catholic University, we believe that this webinar and meeting can become the first step for a very fruitful collaboration and also give rise to many activities in the future. ”Said Vice President Shagrir.

“I believe that the secret of Israel’s success in the field of innovation is the social and cultural diversity that exists in the country” – Marina Rosenberg, Israel’s ambassador to Chile

The Israeli ambassador to Chile, Marina Rosenberg, appreciated the meeting between the two houses of study and also highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion in different areas, such as technological development. “I believe that the secret of Israel’s success in the field of innovation is the social and cultural diversity that exists in the country. There is a great diversity of ethnic groups, colors, religions, and the city of Jerusalem must be one of the most diverse cities in the world ”, he affirmed.

Experiences and challenges
The vice president of Strategy and Diversity of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mona Khoury-Kassabri, who is the first Arab woman to assume a position in the vice presidency of the institution, referred to the significant diversity of realities represented by the students of the campus. This is how they have Jewish students who come from secular schools, but also from religious and ultra-Orthodox establishments, as well as Arab students. This results in the fact that, for example, Arab students must learn Hebrew to attend university, just as ultra-Orthodox students need to catch up in the English language, mathematics and science, since they do not study them in school.

Vice President Mona Khoury-Kassabri explained that the university supports through an accompaniment students for their incorporation to higher education, as well as those who are first generation who arrive at the university. To this end, they have also promoted a scholarship system for groups that are underrepresented. One of the challenges of the institution is precisely to increase the number of students of Arab origin. “In the last 10 years the number of Arab students grew from 10 to 16%, but they are still under-represented,” he said.

The Director of Inclusion UC, Catalina García, pointed out that one of the relevant challenges that many students face are the gaps that have arisen as a result of their previous school career, so accompaniment is essential, especially for those who are first generation studying at university.

“There are groups of students with disabilities who face access barriers, but it is not only about information, but also refers to spaces for participation, to roles. It has been difficult for us to imagine that the person with a disability not only has to enter the room, it could also be the teacher, ”he said.

“There are groups of students with disabilities who face barriers to access, but it is not only about information, but also refers to spaces for participation, to roles” – Catalina García, director of Inclusión UC

Catalina García also spoke about the various ways of admission of equity offered by the UC, the accompaniment that is carried out through tutors, as well as the creation of the academic and permanence alerts system, which allows detecting in time those who require a support. “It has allowed us to monitor the needs and based on this to articulate the supports, which can be economic, academic, socio-emotional or mental health,” concluded the director of Inclusion UC.


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