Andrea is an economist who currently works as an Advisor at the Undersecretariat of Regional Development for the Government of Chile, addressing the strengthening of subnational governments and the country's decentralisation process. She particularly works on proposals for legal reforms in the design and evaluation of public policies that strengthen the administrative, economic, and political powers of regional and local governments.
Before the fellowship, Andrea worked on higher education policy, at the Government of Chile and the Council of Chilean Universities. At the Council of Chilean Universities, she studied and analysed the higher education admissions system and equity access programmes. At the Government of Chile, she worked in Department of Education with the aim of turning the political demands of tens of thousands of Chileans for free quality education into policy. She worked on the educational reform that removed higher education tuition fees for students from the poorest families in Chile, a very significant political discussion about inequality in recent decades, which put concepts such as meritocracy and educational justice on trial.
She has also actively participated in social movements in her native Chile, including the 2011 student movement and the 2019 social uprising, both of which were instrumental in leading to policy changes in the country. Her political commitment is to challenge existing social and economic structures in order to allow people to enjoy equal opportunities to develop freely and independently, regardless of socioeconomic background. Both her participation in social organisations and her work in higher education policy have connected her to people taking direct action against inequalities.
She holds an undergraduate degree in Economics and master's in Public Policy from the University of Chile, and MSc in Inequalities and Social Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
I have seen change happen as social movements in Chile have revalidated protest as a form of political action, leading to important reforms. I could see in Chile’s recent reforms, in which I participated, that the importance of free higher education is more than just not having to pay: it calls into question the issues of meritocracy, segregation and exclusion. We are already seeing the impacts of these reforms, as more students from the most deprived income quintile are enrolling and they have lower drop-out rates than their peers.
Andrea Encalada García