Academic journal article International Education Studies

Factors Affecting the Functionality of Postgraduate Programs in Natural Sciences and Engineering in a Northwest State in Mexico

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Factors Affecting the Functionality of Postgraduate Programs in Natural Sciences and Engineering in a Northwest State in Mexico

Article excerpt

Abstract

From the researchers' perspective, the study aimed to identify factors affecting the functionality of postgraduate programs in natural sciences and engineering in a north-western Mexican state. Through the typical cases method, 25 researchers who worked in six doctorate programs in the region were selected. From the perception of these participants, the functionality of the postgraduate program is affected by external factors, such as the weakness of other participants' actions in the scientific and technological innovation system in the region; and internal factors, in particular, difficulties concerning the formation processes and strategies for academic training and technology transfer into the region.

Keywords: functionality, innovation, postgraduate program, transfer

1. Introduction

In the state in which the study was conducted, the postgraduate programs began to take place in the seventies of the last century, when the Sonora Institute of Technology (1975), the University of Sonora (1978) and the Monterrey Institute of Technology (1980) opened master's programs. The development stage of these programs, which covers from 2000 to date, is distinguished by an accelerated growth in the number of programs and students as well as an increase in the participation of private institutions, which already possess more than 50% of the enrolment at this level of study (Rodríguez, Urquidi, & Pérez, 2011).

In 2010 there were 25,035 alumni statewide with postgraduate studies, which ranks the region in the fifth national place in proportion with those of similar studies within the economically active population. However, this growth has not been balanced in the various school disciplines, but it has happened primarily in the areas of social sciences and education-humanities, which in 2008 possessed 86.7% of the total number of graduate students in the state (Foro Consultivo Científico y Tecnológico [FCCyT], 2011).

Moreover, it should be noted that 32 out of the 100 postgraduate programs in the state, (representing the 32% of the programs) are registered in the National Postgraduates Quality Program [NPQP] (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología [National Council of Science and Technology, CONACYT, Spanish abbreviation], 2012) and only one program had received the international competency certification that this agency gives. In addition, only five institutions in the region, all of them being public, have postgraduate programs recognized as a quality program by CONACYT.

Studies in the region relating to postgraduate programs are scarce, as only five publications focused on the topic were identified from 2002 to 2012 (Mungarro & Montiel, 2011; Rodríguez & Pérez, 2009; Rodríguez et al., 2011; Valdés, Vera, & Carlos, 2012; Valdés, Vera, & Estévez, 2012). No investigations were found, prior to the present, where the functionality of the postgraduate programs that are taught in the region and the role they play within the regional system of technological innovation are directly addressed. It is evident a vacuum of knowledge with regard to the development of competencies of graduates of such programs, and its integration in the work place and the linking of research with the needs of the region.

This study analyzed the functionality of doctorate programs in natural sciences and engineering in a north-western Mexican state, which were registered in the NPQP of the National Council of Science and Technology. By adopting the perspective of a comprehensive evaluation proposed by Stake (2006), the study identified aspects that affect the functionality of these programs through the inquiry into perceptions.

In Mexico it is expected that postgraduate programs contribute decisively in the consolidation of Higher Education Institutions (HEI) within the scientific and technological systems of innovation, it is expected they support the creation and transfer of knowledge and technology to their regions. …

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