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Employers’ Perceptions of Online University Degrees and Their Relationship with the Recruitment and Selection Practices: The Case of Chile


The emergence of online university degree programs is an opportunity for Chile, struggling with low tertiary education attainment rates and a skills gap in the labor market. However, little attention has been dedicated to whether the employers in Chile perceive online and on-campus university education as equivalent. This study investigated the perceptions of a convenient sample of 38 employers from different industries, using Likert scale questions and a hypothetical hiring scenario. The survey results were then consulted with three experts who provided their interpretations. The findings indicated that the investigated sample generally does not perceive online and on-campus university education as equivalent but would not discard an online degree graduate only due to their academic background. However, when given a choice between a 100% online, 100% on-campus, and a hybrid degree holder, none of them would choose a 100% online degree graduate. Instead, 57% would hire a hybrid degree graduate and 43% a 100% on-campus graduate. There is a significant, positive correlation between the perceived equivalence in rigor, learning experience, and learning content and the willingness to hire an online degree graduate. The university’s reputation is a crucial factor influencing hiring decisions in Chile. The degree’s relevance may be insignificant compared to other factors considered by the hiring managers.