Transformative Education
for Health Professionals

Key Policy Issue #3: What is the right balance between regulation and autonomy of institutions?

Regulation can be a barrier to innovation if it is too rigid, excessive or not responsive to evolving needs. Rules and norms can also be too costly to implement and therefore deprive institutions of resources that could be devoted to improving their performance.

A balance between flexibility and effectiveness needs to be found. For example, a recommendation to regulate the creation of schools and programmes should ensure that the conditions for doing so do not generate disincentives and subsequently hinder the expansion of the supply of educational opportunities. When there is no mechanism to ensure that students in the same profession receive the same quality of education, some form of regulation is needed; but to what extent should there be standardization of curricula and teaching strategies, without limiting space for innovation and adaptation to changes in the environment or allowing for cultural variations between countries or regions within countries? There is no easy answer to the question of the extent of regulation.

Each country has its own cultural and legal traditions and specificities, and what is acceptable in one country may not be in another. However, the criterion that policy-makers should use is the same everywhere: which regulation will contribute more to improving the quantity, quality and relevance of health professionals?