The region under review:
boundaries, geography and population
The Bío Bío region of Chile consists of four provinces:
The City of Concepción is the region’s capital and is located about 500 km south of Santiago. The regional population is nearly two million.
In Chile, strong presidential powers are balanced by strong protection of property rights and an independent constitutional court. The President sets the agenda for congress and determines the priority of bills. The congress is composed of the Chamber of Deputies (120 members) and the Senate (49 members, of which 38 are elected, OECD 2003: 26).
The regional government consists the ‘Intendante’ who is designated by the Chilean President and the Regional Council, which has 22 elected members.
The provinces within the regions are governed by provincial governors, who are also appointed by the President.
The Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) is responsible for general norms and public policies in HE and the distribution of the state budget among the HEIs. It concentrates on two key aspects for the development of the Chilean HE system: improving fairness in access and ensuring the programme quality. Chile’s higher education institutions are autonomous and can define both their objectives and targets.
The region is dominated by the manufacturing sector which accounts for 36% of the regional GDP; the industry has mainly located around the ports of Talcahuano, San Vicente, Lirquén, and Coronel. Other sectors in the region are agriculture, iron and steel industry, petrochemicals, metalworking, oil refining, ship building, and food production.