AMÉRICA LATINA: UNIVERSIDADES EN TRANSICIÓN (Latin America: Universities in Transition), by Simon Schwartzman. Washington, D.C.: Organization of American States, INTERAMER 61, Serie Educativa, 1996.

(Liz Reisberg, International Higher Education, Boston College)

In América Latina: Universidades en Transición, Simon Schwartzman moves from the historical origins of the university to its evolution in Latin America and the characteristics that underlie the dilemmas facing higher education in the region today. He reminds us that although the early influences on the development of the Latin American university were distinctly European, educators made different choices in critical areas that resulted in an autochthonous model for higher education in this region. He proceeds adeptly from a broad comparative perspective to a regional one until he is focused on those key contemporary issues being discussed from Mexico to the Southern Cone - financing and the need to respond to severe economic constraints, enrollment expansion, the changing profiles of students and professors, the distinct roles of private and public institutions, the development of graduate programs, and support for research.

Schwartzman uses examples from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and M?xico to document trends in the development of higher education since the 1950s. Although these countries offer some contrasts and illustrate different policy directions, it is unfortunate that examples from the poorer countries - such as Ecuador, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Paraguay, or Peru - have not been included since they might have broadened the important regional perspective that the book provides. Not surprisingly, Schwartzman draws heavily on the experience of Brazil - including a chapter at the end of the book on the evolution of private education.

América Latina provides an important summary of problems and policy decisions made in recent years. Schwartzman provides an insightful analysis of different solutions and their implications in each of the countries studied. In his conclusion he reminds us that the political constituencies - student federations, faculty, unions, and military governments - that shaped policy in the past are being replaced by new voices that will have an increasing role in shaping policy in the future - parents of university students, individuals and institutions who employ university graduates, and citizens who pay the bill for higher education. These new constituencies will place quality and accountability high on their list of demands.

Although pieces of this story have been captured in articles published in recent years, few books have been published that so effectively capture the issues preoccupying policymakers and researchers interested in this region. América Latina is a most welcome addition to the literature. <