Fee regulation: an opportunity to strengthen or harm university education

«The 30 universities that make up the Council of Rectors of Chilean Universities express their concern about the process being developed by the Undersecretariat of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education to implement the regulation of fees, basic tuition fees and collection for the concept of degree for universities that ascribe to free, in the context of law No. 21,091.

Considering that this is the first time that a fee setting process has been carried out in Chile and, furthermore, that this process has not had the active participation of the institutions, that the information provided by the Undersecretary of Higher Education does not allow a A thorough idea of the antecedents and assumptions for the determination of the regulated values and, finally, that the impact of their implementation would be very harmful to the institutions, we have come to the conviction that it is essential to suspend their application.

The foregoing is based on the following:

1. The model defined in the technical bases, in addition to not having been consulted with the regulated institutions, is valid for a homogeneous university system with institutions similar to each other, a situation that does not occur in Chile, where institutions with different degrees of quality, selectivity and complexity.

2. The model developed by the Undersecretariat is based only on historical accounting records, without considering future scenarios or financing improvements in quality and innovation, or variations in the context, such as the effects of the pandemic.

3. The calculation of the tariff values was delivered to the institutions without sufficiently comprehensive information, making it impossible to carry out a complete analysis of the application of the model, or to verify and replicate the correct application of the provisions of the resolution.

4. Considering the importance of this process, it was essential that there be an exhaustive validation process about the reality of the figures used and not simply define in an inconsistent way the tariff values from the lowest values obtained from the request for information made.

Consequently, the Council of Rectors calls on all social, political and economic actors to establish a systemic approach to the problem of public policy regarding the financing of Higher Education. Universities are an ecosystem in which various tasks related to teaching, research, links with the environment and support services for students concur, so the costs must be established with a model that considers the financing of these activities intertwined. Otherwise, the training process, university activities and the financial stability of the institutions will be seriously damaged.

We firmly believe that the regulation of fees should promote training of excellence and should be an opportunity to strengthen higher education institutions. The commitment to the quality of the training of all students, in their diversity, in environments of excellence and the generation of opportunities, especially for those who have free admission, which reaches 50% of the total in our institutions, cannot be put into risk due to the setting of regulated fees that do not recognize the real costs of training. «