Budget 2021: the proposal of the Ministry of Education seriously threatens the sustainability of CRUCH universities

«The Council of Rectors of Chilean Universities (CRUCH), before the 2021 Budget proposal presented by the Executive for Higher Education, wishes to express to public opinion that:

  • The proposal of the Ministry of Education for next year is incomprehensible and unacceptable, since it seriously threatens the sustainability of the CRUCH universities and sends a signal that can be interpreted as the intention to undermine the bases of both state and public universities. of Chile, directly impacting not only on the training of our students, but also on the multiple initiatives that contribute to the development of the country and that see their continuity at risk, as well as the thousands of families of those who work in our institutions and who they depend on your job.
  • The universities of the Council of Rectors contribute directly to the development of Chile. In their location throughout the country they constitute the intellectual, cultural and artistic pole of each of the regions and their main cities. In addition, they play a fundamental role in the decentralization process, promoting regional development.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, the 30 CRUCH universities, despite their complex financial situation, have contributed to face the health emergency through the construction of a support network for the country's health services, which includes multiple initiatives to strengthen regional health networks, whether in the prevention, detection or treatment of COVID-19. All the activities carried out have been charged to the budgets of the universities.
  • Additionally, the universities have implemented all the necessary actions to maintain their teaching, giving continuity to the training process of more than 400 thousand students, of which the 50% is the beneficiary of the gratuity and therefore belong to the most vulnerable 60% in the country; and continue with their research, university extension and connection with the environment.
  • In this scenario, CRUCH universities have had to make greater budgetary adjustments due to the social and health crisis, which have meant lower income from tuition and fees and the sale of services, in addition to an increase in expenses derived from the health crisis to support students and teachers in connectivity and equipment, for an estimated sum of $204,000 million. This scenario should be projected for at least the year 2021, including the additional costs for the return to essential activities under safe sanitary conditions and to maintain financial support for its students.
  • The situation described above is complex and has put our universities in a situation of fragility never before experienced. This adverse scenario is aggravated by the 2021 Budget Law Project, which contemplates a decrease in resources to CRUCH institutions amounting to $42,119 million, of which $21,638 correspond to decreases in baseline contributions.
  • This situation was exposed before the Fourth Mixed Subcommittee on Budgets. The understanding of our arguments led to the rejection of these budgetary programs and thanks to this result the CRUCH was invited by the Undersecretary of Higher Education to set up a working group to analyze solely and exclusively the use of the Surpluses of the University Credit Solidarity Fund (FSCU), in which we agreed to participate, in coherence with our guiding principles, which privilege dialogue.
  • This working group is limited to the FSCU, a matter that does not involve State resources, since the ownership of the FSCU resources is entirely owned by the institutions that have said fund. What must be agreed is the legal authorization for its use, which depends on the Executive. These resources will be almost exclusively to cover deficits for exceeding the duration of the degree (Article 108) and, consequently, they do not solve the current financing problems.
  • The Council of Rectors of Chilean Universities and each one of the groups that are part of it (Consortium of State Universities of Chile, CUECH; Regional University Association, AUR; Non-State Public Universities, G-9), have proposed a a set of measures to face this situation and they have been reiterated in all possible instances, but to date there has been no approach by the authority regarding other matter than the use of FSCU surpluses.
  • The measures include proposals that do not require additional resources, such as establishing access to state-guaranteed debt and the use of FSCU surpluses. Others do imply resources for the State, but understanding the country's situation and the need to make adjustments, it is requested to maintain the values assigned in the 2020 budget, which, ultimately, implies assuming a decrease in the real 2.6% from now on. in the resources of the Institutional Funds (Basal, Agreements and of National Interest). Also, measures aimed at improving the implementation of Law 21,091, such as the suspension of Regulated Tariffs to implement a new and better design.
  • We must also point out our concern regarding the assertions about the lack of efficiency and transparency of our universities that the government authorities have expressed in recent weeks. These assertions are not only ineffective but also reflect mistrust with respect to our universities and ignorance of the mechanisms through which they periodically and transparently account for their academic, administrative and financial actions.
  • Finally, we make a call to safeguard the heritage that public universities represent for the country, to the contribution they make in all areas of our society and their key role in ensuring that Chile reaches better levels of development for the benefit of all (as ) its citizens and each of its territories. "