Gabriella de Camargo Hizume
University of São Paulo, Brazil
Afrânio Mendes Catani, Univeristy of São Paulo
MERCOSUR is a South American regional organization created in 1991, originally formed by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. In spite of its economic features, education was a concern since the first regional initiatives and the Educational Sector was formed in its first year. The circulation of academic staff and degree holder professionals was considered a priority theme in the Educational Sector due to conceptions related to some main ideas, for instance: higher education as a human right, the social and economic development related to higher levels of education, the globalization process and the consequent internationalization of higher education. To promote this, a Working Group integrated by specialists from the participating countries understood that the first step would be the equivalence between the diplomas and the creation of a regional accreditation system for quality assurance. In 2002, after some adjustments, the final version of an experimental system, titled “Experimental Mechanism for Accreditation of Undergraduate Courses for the Recognition of Diplomas in MERCOSUR, Bolivia and Chile (MEXA)”, was presented for three careers: agronomy, engineering and medicine. The MEXA was based on a self-evaluation, a peer evaluation, and an accreditation dictate. To implement the MEXA, each participating state indicated a National Accreditation Agency that established the National Accreditation Agencies Network, linked to the Educational Sector of MERCOSUR, to coordinate the process. It was applied from 2003 to 2006 and considered as a regional public policy to be taken as a priority to higher education. In 2008, a permanent system was set up, the Regional Accreditation System for undergraduate courses of MERCOSUR, a foundation for other programs like the Regional Mobility Program for accredited undergraduate courses and a mechanism for undergraduate diploma recognition. Nowadays, the ARCU-SUR System is applied to ten careers in nine countries, although it isn´t consolidated as of yet.