The executive vice president of CRUCH, rector Aldo Valle, presented today in the Education Commission of the Chamber of Deputies a report that accounts for the higher costs of implementing the training processes due to the health emergency and the lower income that this will receive. year the schools, which are estimated at $146 billion pesos.
This Tuesday, April 21, the executive vice president of the Council of Rectors of Chilean Universities, Rector Aldo Valle, presented to the Education Commission of the Chamber of Deputies a report that gives an account of the requirements that have had to give continuity to the training process , sets out the financial status of the institutions, and makes five proposals to overcome the difficulties and limitations that derive from these financial statements.
The report prepared with the data self-reported by the 30 universities that make up the CRUCH, shows that to date the institutions have had to incur costs that exceed $16.556 million pesos to implement measures that allow adapting the teaching process to the situation health emergency. Among other measures, the training for virtual teaching, support for the adaptation and development of didactic material, delivery of technological tools for teleworking, free delivery of technological equipment and broadband devices to vulnerable students and connectivity grants, acquisition of educational software licenses and synchronous classes and help desk enablement to support virtual work. The costs associated with health security measures such as periodic fumigations and purchase of personal protection supplies are also considered.
In order to support students who have difficulties in paying fees, tuition fees or the degree processes, the Universities have established a series of measures aimed at preventing students from having to abandon their studies, such as guaranteeing access to all content and materials regardless of the payment situation; facilities and extensions for the financial obligations contracted with the institution, extension of the term in enrollment, and additional scholarships, among others.
Difficult financial picture
The rector Valle pointed out that "the current financial panorama of the universities is very complex." He recalled that in 2019, Article 108 of Law 21,091 was applied on the limitation of the collection of fees to students who lose gratuity for the duration of their studies and the impact that this generated; The decrease in enrollment also had to be faced due to the mobilizations of the second semester, together with an increase in the payment delinquency of families. "All this caused the CRUCH universities to stop receiving $32 billion pesos."
Meanwhile, this year the universities faced a complex admission process, which meant a drop close to 10% in expected enrollment, which translated into a decrease of $17.5 billion.
The state of health emergency is also affecting the enrollment of higher courses: the number of students who have presented suspension of studies or postponement of enrollment increased. This has meant a drop of $62,412 million due to higher courses fees.
The rector Valle emphasized that “the implementation of virtual teaching is not the result of a commercial strategy on the part of the universities, but is a way of making university life compatible with protection measures for the entire country, for the reasons of widely known force majeure. In other words, there are no cost reduction strategies behind these measures, it is a supervening situation that demands more resources in their care and that does not seek savings ”.
The report also incorporates the decrease in costs due to reduction in transportation, per diem and other items that reaches $7,765 million, a figure that is considerably lower than the more than $16,556 million that have had to be invested over the initially budgeted to carry out the current academic semester.
"If we consider the sum of the impacts indicated and also add the economic effort that universities have had to make to adapt their activity to virtual teaching, a total of $146 billion pesos is added, which is equivalent to 75% of the Direct Fiscal Contribution that CRUCH universities receive ”, explains Rector Valle.
In order to face this situation and contribute to the financial viability of the schools without harming the permanence of the students, the Council of Rectors proposed the following five measures:
In the first place, that the current bill proposed in the Education Commission of the Chamber of Deputies be reconsidered, so as not to stop the full payment of fees and allow the execution of targeted measures.
Second, repeal article 108 of Law 21.091 on loss of gratuity, since its application compromises the patrimony of the universities by having to finance the 50% of the fee for those students who lose the gratuity. This implies that CRUCH universities stop receiving income for an aggregate amount of $26 billion pesos.
Third, with respect to the use of the surpluses that each university has in the FSCU portfolios, it is proposed that the amount available or the destination for the use of these resources is not restricted. "A significant part of the resources of the FSCU come from the patrimony of the universities themselves, for this reason the restrictions imposed by the Mineduc on this initiative are not understood, which under current conditions is even more necessary," says Valle.
In addition, it is requested that the reimbursement of scholarship resources be forgiven and that the Mineduc carry out a new application process for student aid this year, because the usual process concluded on March 27 and that in several universities the semesters began later to that date, since many students with situations arising as a result of the state of health emergency were not able to apply. “Due to the lower enrollment, there will be availability in the resources of the public budget for higher education. These same resources can be allocated to those students who need support this year ”, concludes the report.