Higher Education in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is home to the oldest university in Latin America, the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo—UASD). While UASD offers free education through government funding, there are numerous other universities and institutes across the country. Enrollment in higher education programs in the Dominican Republic continues to increase steadily.

The Autonomous University of Santo Domingo

Higher education in the Dominican Republic has a rich history that spans more than 400 years. Dishearteningly, the UASD, although established for more than four centuries, obtained its first patent in 2020.

However, the UASD was the Dominican Republic’s only university until the late 1980s when there were a recorded 26 institutions and 120,000 students enrolled in higher education programs. In 1998, these numbers only went up, as a new record revealed a total of “29 universities…and 7 institutes with a combined total enrollment of 213,200.”

In the 21st century, the Dominican Republic is experiencing the effects of higher education. According to the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers (AACRAO), “literacy among the 8,715,000 citizens is nearly 85% (up from 70% in [the] 1980s).” Additionally, there was a notable increase in tertiary school enrollment, with a recorded 61% enrollment rate in 2019.

The Ups and Downs

While higher education enrollment in the Dominican Republic has increased, there are concerns. The country’s economy relies heavily on tourism and hospitality, industries that often do not require advanced education or technical skills. As a result, higher education has not been a top priority.

Dominican Today addressed another alarming statistic. In this article, Dominican Today gives insight into “Report Zero National System of Scholarships and Educational Support Credit,” a report published by the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of the Presidency. This report reveals significant information on the employment trends of professionals with various educational levels. According to this report, individuals with higher educational degrees “take an average of 4.07 years to secure their first job after graduating.”

The Solution

Although the statistics for securing a job after more than four years can be startling, there is hope in the higher education of the Dominican Republic. It all begins with the National Council of Higher Education (Consejo Nacional de Educación Superior—CONES), an entity legislated in 1983 to formulate and coordinate plans and initiatives for the growth of higher education.

Other issues such as financial gaps can stunt a student’s progress in their educational career. Various scholarship programs have been designed and designated for individuals wanting to further their educational careers abroad. The Dominican Republic’s rural and low-income students have benefited from the economic opportunities provided by a program called Scholarships for Education and Economic Development (SEED) program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). 

Other programs such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Fulbright Program offer scholarships, grants and financial assistance for those who may struggle economically to fulfill higher education goals. There is even the Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund (MMMF), which specifically awards female students $12,000 a year in order for them to “return to their homeland for two years of service in work that will enhance and foster their country.” 

Leaders in the Dominican Republic can benefit from higher education enrollment, and these programs provide increasingly valuable skills that support economic development. In an upper-middle-income developing nation like the Dominican Republic, an increase in higher education provides reason for hope, as it is essential to development and promotes economic growth for both individuals and the nation as a whole.

– Caleb Picone
Photo: Flickr

Economic Growth in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic (DR) — with assistance from the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank and other institutions — has instilled a clear strategy for economic development. Fortunately, the Dominican Republic is now reaping the fruits of such labor.

Up-to-Date Advances

There are several facets to the economic growth in the Dominican Republic, but two pillars of such growth stand out. As outlined in the Caribbean Growth Forum, two of these pillars are improving business climate and modernizing the public sector, and these well-planed has created extreme progress in the DR.

First Pillar

The speed at which companies seek to register their businesses has decreased from 45 to 7 days. The rate at which property titles are issued and bills for bankruptcy law are finalized both occur much more rapidly. Ultimately, such changes benefit both small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and creditors, since the former has greater borrowing capacity, while the latter has better protection.

The Dominican Republic’s business climate has also improved through the implementation of programs for non-reimbursable seed money to boost entrepreneurship amongst the youth. The Industry and Commerce Ministry created a training pilot to fortify business management practices to over 5000 SMEs.

These initiatives are crucial to empowering bright minds in the community to take risks on business endeavors and successfully manage such startups. Moreover, this also allows for greater attraction of investors, who seek to capitalize on promising entrepreneurial undertakings. SMEs already in existence would, of course, benefit from the training in commercial management.

Loans For Change

A significant stride to improve the business climate in the Dominican Republic came in the form of a $300 million policy centered loan from the Inter-American Development Bank in 2017. This effort seeks to support financial regulations in order to increase productivity, foster the creation of institutions to finance productive development as well as improve protection of contracts and transactions.

Additionally, this plan of action would update administrative processes, facilitate growth in competitiveness and help institutions that focus on promoting innovation and production developments. Finally, the loan would work to reduce evasion and avoidance of social security contributions by strengthening fiscal and social security systems, which would ultimately boost labor formalities.

Second Pillar

According to the World Bank, the Citizen Observatory for Public Procurement and 25 other committees have been created to monitor public contracts. By doing so, the changes would:

  • Foster private sector confidence
  • Encourage SMEs to participate in public contracting
  • Form greater transparency, especially in what is “open procurement”

In 2015, the Inter-American Development Bank financed a $25 million project that worked to develop the Dominican Republic’s fiscal structure. In doing so, the project enables the processes of planning, monitoring and evaluating budgets, and helps modernize the ways of conducting the management of public funds. In addition, the endeavor also fosters greater participation of SMEs — particularly led by women — in public purchases.

What Now?

There are a set of focal points that would illustrate and improve the effectiveness of the strategies regarding the economic growth in the DR. The set includes creating a feedback-loop that would help assess reform implementation and accomplishment of goals, and therefore scale outreach and media interactions with stakeholders and set greater definitions of reforms, their timelines and other indicators of performance.

In the past decade, economic growth in the DR has been achieved through the execution of new strategies of development. These strategies, amongst other details, coincide with the DR’s 2030 National Development Strategy and have set the country on track for continued growth.

A Nation’s Future

The Dominican Republic, with the support of international institutions, is a step closer to accomplishing its goals. Already, the country has experienced success in many vital aspects of its economy’s sustainability, and its potential for continued growth is abundant.

– Roberto Carlos Ventura
Photo: Flickr