University scholarship program: promoting professionalization and employability through a comprehensive approach and support of young Venezuelans in vulnerable situations
In Venezuela, only 25% of young people have access to higher education and 40% are unable to complete it. The deterioration of public universities and the monthly tuition increases that exceed 120% in private ones, have considerably limited access to higher education and the performance of students. Scholarships have declined, and existing ones don't focus on recognizing meritocracy. For this reason, BAUP has designed a comprehensive model for awarding scholarships that guarantees academic success based on systematic monitoring and the selection of outstanding students according to their socioeconomic situation, academic performance, and participation in extracurricular activities.
BAUP grants scholarships to undergraduate students from different cities of the country with outstanding performance in 4 areas: academic, sports, cultural and for social commitment. The program ensures that young people with outstanding profiles enter the university despite being in vulnerable conditions, thus promoting personal and community progress. Furthermore, and considering that only 26% of women in Venezuela go to college, the achievement of goal 4.6 is supported because 64% of scholarship recipients are women. Through college and the program, the beneficiaries develop skills that prepare them for employability in addition to their academic training. They also receive offers from our allies to enter the workforce. Thus ensuring the education and employability of young Venezuelans, improving their personal and family realities.
The project focuses its action on SDG #4: Quality education, particularly goals 4.5 and 4.b, granting university scholarships in a developing country and providing constant training that prepares them to successfully enter and remain in the workforce in Venezuela, corresponding to SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth). By providing the possibility of improving themselves and generating additional income for their homes, quality education is evidenced as the best tool to combat poverty (SDG 1: End poverty).
Faced with the complex educational crisis in the country, private universities are positioned as an alternative where academic excellence continues to be possible despite the constant tuition increases. Therefore, the universities selected were chosen because they maintain quality standards and guarantee greater opportunity for employability. Given the great demand for financial aid, we designed our own selection process conformed by several phases that integrate socioeconomic factors with academic performance and outstanding participation in activities, ensuring the selection of outstanding students and reducing desertion risks. In addition to financial support, the organization has developed a systematic support system in which it is possible to monitor academic requirements, provide training and complementary development spaces, the opportunity to connect scholarship recipients with psychological counseling, and identify possible dropout situations or decreased performance. We also have partnerships with the private sector, by developing an internship subscription program, serving as a bridge between their job offers and outstanding undergraduate students, promoting youth employability while generating income for the program. The constant follow-up of the scholarship recipients allows us to monitor their performance, ensuring that the organization's indicators are met. With the administrative processes, all payments are made directly to the universities, ensuring the transparency of the funds. These efforts make it possible to guarantee the highest academic completion rate, the monitoring of funds and, therefore, the optimization of invested resources.
BAUP has graduated 30 professionals who today work in prestigious organizations and has connected more than 20 active interns with job opportunities in partner companies, promoting the employability of young people and their insertion into the workforce. Since 2017, BAUP has granted scholarships to 142 students in the best private universities, reaffirming its functionality with a dropout rate of 10.6%. Without this support, 79% of the scholarship recipients would not be able to complete their studies, impacting the availability of young professionals, access to decent employment and informal work. Selection techniques have been perfected to identify the best profiles and the follow-up has been customized considering the needs of the student and the reality of each city. In addition, due to its comprehensive approach, 63% of the students have increased their GPA and affirm that the follow-ups have mitigated the obstacles of the economic crisis and the challenges of university life.
Autonomy and quality in private universities have been key. In addition, and although a significant number of potential investors prioritize issues of immediate assistance over education, the interest of companies in education finances a large part of the project. As the program was born from students to students, its design was adapted to real needs and despite the fact that at the beginning the selection criteria was diffuse and did not consider the differences between each type of scholarship, by migrating to a team of multidisciplinary professionals, objective and efficient criteria was standardized through a competency-based approach.
The dropout rate and the general academic average are the main indicators to validate the results. Due to the innovative selection process and assertive support system, it is possible to reduce desertion by up to 26% when compared to similar programs. Furthermore, the general average of the scholarship holders is 17.7/20 and the comprehensive approach allows 30% to be outstanding students in the social, cultural and sports areas. For its expansion, universities are evaluated confirming that they comply with quality standards. It is vital to know the administrative processes and the magnitude of applicants for economic cooperation, as well as the reality of the university and the community in general. The process has proven to be successful in allowing expansion to five universities in complex settings. It is recommended to focus the project in developing countries where access to higher education is complex, the demand for professionals is high and there is youth migration.
The selection of the beneficiaries is carried out with an in-person interview by competences, so it had to be adapted to virtualization. This represented a great challenge because at the national level, the internet is extremely intermittent, and despite this, the 60 interviews shortlisted out of the 200 applications received were carried out. Although the universities functioned in person, they migrated to the digital environment, making the adaptation of the students progressive and complex. For this reason, support channels were strengthened and the use of psychological services and complementary training in high-difficulty subjects were promoted as support alternatives. The use of the platforms was key to streamline processes and have direct contact with the scholarship holders.
SDGS & Targets
Deliverables & Timeline
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The program is implemented in eight states of Venezuela: Anzoátegui, Amazonas, Barinas, Bolívar, Capital District, Miranda, Táchira and Zulia.
Roberto , University scholarship program: promoting professionalization and employability through a comprehensive approach and support of young Venezuelans in vulnerable situations