World Bank Support Will Benefit Some 300,000 Students in Colombia

January 31, 2017

Washington, January 31, 2017— 287,000 Colombian students in higher education will benefit from a new US$160 million loan approved yesterday by the World Bank Board of Directors. The Program for Higher Education Access and Quality (PACES, in Spanish) will work to improve the quality and the access to higher education in Colombia, and especially to close socioeconomic and regional access gaps.

The components of this project include the financing of loans for disadvantaged students in higher education, as well as grants for master’s and doctoral programs in the world’s leading universities (“Passport to Science”).

 “At ICETEX, we are pleased to have World Bank support for the social promotion of higher education in Colombia through the implementation of PACES. This enables us to continue to help thousands of young people fulfill their dreams of attending technical, technological and university programs, transforming their lives, as well as those of their families and communities,” Andrés Eduardo Vásquez Plazas, president of the Colombian Institute of Education Loans and Technical Studies Abroad (ICETEX, in Spanish).

 “This program also gives us the tools to improve the supply of higher education and to strengthen regional development. PACES, in collaboration with the World Bank, represents one more step toward making Colombia the most highly educated nation in Latin America by 2025,” added Vásquez Plazas.

PACES will form partnerships with institutions of higher learning (accredited and non-accredited), and top-level and private-sector international institutions in ecosystems that support research and innovation throughout the country (“Scientific Ecosystems”). It will also support the institutional strengthening of ICETEX.

 “The project contributes to achieving the strategic objectives of both the Government of Colombia and the World Bank. Improving the quality of higher education and increasing access and graduation rates for disadvantaged students in high-quality programs helps Colombia reach its goal of becoming the most highly-educated nation,” said Gerardo Corrochano, World Bank director for Colombia and Mexico.

The World Bank financing will support the overarching objectives of ICETEX, which will also contribute resources to the project, as will the French Development Agency (AFD, in French). The French agency will also provide US$150 million for three years to finance student loans and grants. The World Bank and ICETEX jointly prepared the projects, with the participation of the AFD team.

PACES will give priority to victims of the armed conflict and other disadvantaged populations. This will contribute to the cross-cutting strategy of the World Bank’s Country Partnership Framework with Colombia to build peace and provide post-conflict support, and to the first pillar of Colombia’s National Development Plan associated with peace.

ICETEX is the borrower and main implementing agency. COLCIENCIAS will support the implementation of the “Scientific Colombia” component, which seeks to improve the quality of institutions of higher learning in the areas of research, teaching and internationalization. The loan has a repayment period of 22.5 years, which includes a 6-year grace period.


Washington: Marcela Sánchez-Bender, +1 (202) 473-5863,

Colombia: Maria Clara Ucrós, + 57-1-3238259,

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News Release




Media Contacts
In Washington
Marcela Sánchez-Bender
Tel : +1 (202) 458-5863
In Colombia
Maria Clara Ucrós
Tel : + 57-1-3238259