Over the past 20 years Chile has made significant strides in expanding access to higher education. However, much of this expansion has been achieved through for-profit universities of uneven quality. Overall, the state pays only 15 percent of higher education costs, leaving families to come up with the rest, often by taking on heavy debt. In recent months, students have taken to the streets in the most massive and sustained set of demonstrations since the end of the Pinochet regime, protesting the inequalities and shortcomings of the education system. Similar movements throughout the Americas show the growing influence of the “Chilean winter.”
In 2010, Giorgio Jackson was elected president of Chile’s Catholic University Student Federation (Federación de Estudiantes de la Universidad Católica de Chile or FEUC) and has become one of the principal leaders of the 2011 student demonstrations.