Effect of inflation on higher education, according to four rectors

Effect of inflation on higher education, according to four rectors


Leaders of higher education centers in the country mention the bets of their institutions to stop student desertion.

Rectors of higher education

Rectors of higher education.


Claudia MILENA Quintero Rueda

March 05, 2023 – 09:00 pm



Education was one of the sectors hardest hit by inflation in the country during February 2023, because the impact on enrollment reached 8.5% in its monthly rate.

(Back to school marked inflation in February 2023).

Portfolio spoke with Adolfo Meiselrector of the University of the North; Alejandro Cheynefrom the University of Rosario; Esteban Piedrahitafrom Icesi University and Jose Manuel Restrepofrom the EIA University to see how it affected the institutions they run.

(Annual variation of inflation reached 13.28% in February).

For some, inflation did impact university enrollment and to reduce student dropouts due to economic factors, many implemented scholarship and financial aid programs to help students finish their higher education cycles.

“The unofficial higher education institutions committed to the fact that the inflationary impact would be less in the families of the students”, explained.

On the contrary, for others inflation did not affect.


Adolfo Meisel Roca
University of the North (Barranquilla)

For the rector of the Universidad del Norte, Adolfo Meisel Roca, “inflation did not negatively affect tuition payments” for young people from the Caribbean region who study in the Atlantic capital.
However, he affirmed that during the pandemic caused by covid 19 there was an increasing request for economic relief and they offered scholarships to support students.

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It mentions that “in 2020, 274 new scholarships were awarded to first-year students” and they consolidated an investment “to deliver 1,154 partial scholarships to students who were studying a semester”, this with the purpose of “promoting student continuity in the face of the health crisis due to the pandemic”.

The rector added that “after the crisis, relief requests decreased and enrollment recovered 100%.”

Another key point is that at the Universidad del Norte the “semester dropout for financial reasons is 2.5%”, which is not directly associated with inflation in the country.

Adolfo Meisel

private file


Jose Alejandro Cheyne Garcia
University of Rosario (Bogotá)

Alejandro Cheyne, rector of the Universidad del Rosario, reaffirms the premise that inflation has indeed affected education, therefore, “universities have the challenge of accompanying students and their families.”

Due to the above, the entity has generated direct financing alternatives and with the help of financial entities. This with a scholarship program and support for maintenance. He mentions that in these programs they offer food and transportation as well.

In effect, he affirms that there was also an increase in the request for financial relief by students, and “direct financing has increased by more than 157%, the programs of Generation E and Youth to the U have been supported, as well as as various direct credit alternatives”.

Regarding dropout, he mentions that it has been multi-causal and in 2021 they observed a slight increase in dropout, but it did not exceed one percentage point compared to 2020. Cheyne stated that his purpose was to achieve student permanence.

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José Alejandro Cheyne, Rector of the Universidad del Rosario.


Esteban Piedrahita Uribe
Icesi University (Cali)

In the case of the Icesi University, based in Cali, as mentioned by Esteban Piedrahita, its rector, “no clear affectation of inflation on enrollment has been seen.”

In fact, Piedrahita affirms “that in 2021 and 2022, on the recommendation of the Ministry of National Education, the increase in enrollment was below inflation.” He measure that it could be one of those that contributed to the little effect of inflation on the Icesi University.

To which is added that they have “many mechanisms for scholarships and financial support”, which mean that they do not have “a high indicator of desertion for economic reasons”.

Faced with the effects of the pandemic, he mentions that “they are still trying to understand the impact on the abilities with which boys enter university, but it is very likely that effects will be seen and that some basic skills must be strengthened.”

He also adds that “it is not sustainable for universities to continue increasing enrollment below inflation, because costs do rise.”

Esteban Piedrahita, president of the Cali Chamber of Commerce.

Claudia Rubio/CEET


Jose Manuel Restrepo
​EIA University (Envigado)

José Manuel Restrepo, rector of the EIA University, mentions that “inflation has effectively hit the educational system, particularly non-official higher education, also in the official one due to costs.”

One of the bets that he sees as fundamental in reducing the impact of inflation on education is “the commitment of unofficial higher education institutions to make the inflationary impact less on the families of the students”, a commitment that is evident at his university with “much more complex and comprehensive scholarship programs.”

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Additionally, he says that “they have assumed the benefits that Icetex is currently providing through the reduction in financing costs. Really, the unofficial higher education institutions have been the reason why Icetex has been able to give the benefits it has given up to now”.

He considers that after the pandemic, education was strengthened in terms of the implementation of technologies, but social skills were affected.

Jose Manuel Restrepo



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