Act carried out in front of the National Congress, was headed by the rector of the UV and Executive Vice President of CRUCH, Aldo Valle; the rector of the University of Playa Ancha, Patricio Sanhueza and the Secretary General of the FEUV, Carlos Vergara.
(Source: Communications Directorate of Extension and Communications University of Valparaíso, 12/22/2015). Act that took place in front of the National Congress, on Avenida Argentina de Valparaíso, was intended to express itself on the situation of free higher education and the University Reform.
The event was led by the rector of the UV, Aldo Valle, executive vice president of the Council of Rectors of Chilean Universities, the rector of the University of Playa Ancha, Patricio Sanhueza and Carlos Vergara, secretary general of the FEUV and spokesperson for the Confech Fifth Zone. Likewise, leaders of the student federations of study houses in the region, directors, academics and researchers from the University of Valparaíso, and numerous student representatives participated.
On the occasion, the rector Aldo Valle explained that the activity was called “to make our concern public, let us say even better our impatience, because we do not see clarity, we do not see conviction in this process of reform to higher education. We have not seen conviction or clarity in the implementation of the gratuity for the year 2016. Last week we had to regret that the idea circulated that a gratuity was going to be implemented that excluded three state universities; It seemed to us of course a folly, then a perplexity and finally an intellectual embarrassment, because nobody wanted to take charge of that bad idea. (…) Finally, I think it was clear that this idea had no political backing or that it was not presentable to the public. And then the university communities, of course the rectors, but also the academics, managers, student organizations, organizations of workers and officials of the universities that make up the Council of Rectors, we are in a state of alert, because we are going to face a year in which we have to discuss with the greatest transparency and clarity what higher education we want for Chile ”.
Regarding the appearance of two categories of universities, the executive vice president of CRUCh indicated that “I hope that this will be modified, because we have publicly stated that in the Council of Rectors it is true that there are state institutions and that there are other institutions that do not have that character, but that they cannot be put in the same condition as the private universities created after 1981. I do not want to make generalizations; There are also differences in this group of private universities created after 1981, but we believe that it is unfair that the Universidad de Concepción, the Universidad Santa María or the Universidad Católica de Valparaíso remain in the same condition as universities created after 1981, basically and from according to a market logic of higher education ”.
He added that “in the Council of Rectors there is a set of non-state institutions that have made a valuable contribution to education, science, culture, thought, and that despite not having a state character, they constitute the public offer, They are part of the admission system of the Council of Rectors, they are institutions that have a historical social recognition that no one can ignore. And for the same reason we believe that it is also a mistake, it is a mistake simply to make this short law on gratuity dichotomously distinguish between state universities and non-state universities. We have requested that there be an indication of the executive power so that this is modified, and of course we are not going to rest until that indication is introduced, which makes explicit reference to the fact that in the Council of Rectors there is a set of institutions that are part of the public offering, which are governed by a different norm from the one that governs with respect to private universities created after 1981, since many of them do not have any legal regime, and it is not known whether they sometimes act as real estate companies or as university corporations . And obviously that no university of the Council of Rectors can be put in such an ambiguous condition ”.
Asked about how the lack of clarity on the subject manifests, Valle stated that “it means that we have had serious difficulties in carrying out this reform of higher education. What we observe is lack of clarity, lack of conviction. And for the same reason, we are today with this problem that the applications will begin next Sunday. It is likely that that day many students do not know whether or not the university to which they apply will be attached to the free regime. It translates into a difficulty like that, but also in that minorities end up taking the bills to the Constitutional Court, and ultimately a body that does not have a democratic nature or origin is deciding on public policies that of course concern the will and the interest of the majority ”.
On the other hand, regarding whether the project affects the universities of the Valparaíso Council of Rectors in its current state, Aldo Valle stated that “none is excluded from the law that implements gratuity as of 2016. What we are observing And arguing is that it does not seem to us that this short law distinguishes only between state and non-state universities. We believe that state universities should be distinguished, but then, the non-state universities that make up the Council of Rectors, because they have a different category from the other private universities that were born by the simple will or initiative of entrepreneurship or corporate decisions , very respectable in many cases, but that ultimately do not respond to the standards of public offer that the Council of Rectors and all the universities that comprise it do have ”.
Regarding the pre-legislative work, Valle pointed out that “yesterday (Monday) the Council of Rectors met in an extraordinary way and agreed to request the government authorities that we have a more serene and more participatory pre-legislative discussion, with greater dissemination of the contents that this will have. law, and not only through drafts or minutes that unfortunately do not comply with the task of informing and generating opinion and criticism, which is always essential, in the case of a bill that we want to reform these three or four decades of free market in higher education and establish a higher education system that serves the democratic construction of Chilean society, because the one we currently have does not serve for that, but rather the other way around: it serves rather to build a hierarchical society, highly segregated and with diminished democratic spaces " .
For his part, Carlos Vergara, general secretary of the FEUV, stated that “the Confech called for this day of national protest, understanding that the entry of state universities to the short bill of gratuity was in danger. This short bill of gratuity, which now includes even non-state universities, also reflects certain things, and for us, as Confech, it generates some uncertainty. This short law at the end of the day does not generate the criteria that we as Confech have discussed, which have to do with, for example, the entry of parameters that allow democracy within the universities, which also protect the labor rights of workers within the universities, that they build a regulatory framework for the universities, and also, the issue, at least for us, that scholarships are still the main thing and it is not the gratuity that we want ”.
In this sense, he added, “we understand that it is important for 2016 to face the challenges that education presents us as a solid university community. And not only as a university community, but also all the actors of society that can be integrated. Today we invite not only the rectors, but also the different social organizations, officials and academics from different universities, and that is, after all, the meaning that we have given to this conference ”.
The leader added, coinciding with the rector Valle, that “we are in a state of alert, and that is the idea: to be able to converge with the different actors of society, in order to build a free education that really responds to the interests of the students. Chile and the people as a whole. We understand that discussions are taking place today, and the government also raised an agenda where it wants yes or yes to legislate around this short law as soon as possible, because there are also the interests of the government and the interests of businessmen who have pressed so that this short law can integrate certain universities that today for us do not protect what we consider as democracy. The issue of profit is also important. Not only does the accreditation parameter have to be something vital, but there are other parameters that are vital to build the university and the free education that we want for the next year, and for the future really ”.
Consequently, Vergara said, the steps to follow involve “calling and summoning other actors. It is important that this next year we face a unified agenda, with the rectors, with students, with officials, with academics, with the social actors of education, proposing what we want and encouraging that there is a university reform built with all the social actors ”.
Finally, he emphasized that “our idea is that education be universal free. At least that was always the logic, encouraging a bit the issue that it is important to separate the market logic of education, and think about it in a logic of law: education is an important right, and it is also a fundamental pillar in construction of the Chile we want ”.
Directorate of Extension and Communications University of Valparaíso, 12.22.2015.