Executive Vice President of CRUCH on Budget 2021: "Government authorities have tried to generate mistrust and discredit the universities of the Council of Rectors"

To clarify and deny the proposals of the Ministry of Finance, the Council of Rectors released a Technical Minute that focuses on three central issues: the decrease in financing in Higher Education programs, the transparency and accountability of the universities, and the supposed increase in salaries in universities.

The document was released this Sunday, November 15, by the executive vice president of CRUCH, Juan Manuel Zolezzi, together with the president of CUECH, rector Ennio Vivaldi; the president of the G-9 Network, rector Diego Durán; and the president of the AUR, rector Patricio Sanhueza.

“We cannot accept the assertions of government authorities in the framework of the 2021 Budget discussion, which have repeatedly tried to generate mistrust and discredit the universities of the Council of Rectors to block any progress in the discussion of the resources that are required to guarantee the sustainability of our institutions. This is serious, since the aforementioned accounts for opinions that are far from reality and not factual, and also reflect ignorance of the mechanisms through which CRUCH universities provide information on a regular and transparent basis on their academic, administrative and academic actions. financial ”, said the executive vice president of CRUCH, rector Juan Manuel Zolezzi.

To clarify and deny the proposals of the Ministry of Finance in the session of the Mixed Budget Commission last Wednesday, November 11, the Council of Rectors released a Technical Minute that focuses on three central issues: the decrease in financing in programs of Higher Education, the transparency and accountability of the universities, and the supposed increase in salaries in the universities.

The document was released this Sunday, November 15, by the executive vice president of the Council of Rectors, Juan Manuel Zolezzi, together with the highest representatives of the different groups: the president of the Consortium of State Universities of Chile (CUECH) and rector from the University of Chile, Ennio Vivaldi; the president of the Non-State Public Universities (G-9) and rector of the Universidad Católica del Maule, Diego Durán; and the president of the Regional University Association (AUR) and rector of the University of Playa Ancha, Patricio Sanhueza.

CRUCH Technical Minutes

 

The minute offers relevant information that allows clarifying the three aspects that the Ministry of Finance has systematically questioned during the discussion of the 2021 Budget for Higher Education. This document was prepared by the Financing and Legal Commissions of CRUCH, led by the rector of the University of Concepción, Carlos Saavedra.

The first point refers to the decrease in amounts in Higher Education programs. In this regard, during the Mixed Budget Commission on November 11, the Minister of Finance, Ignacio Briones, stated that “when talking about (reductions of) $40 billion of income, there was $30 billion that were going to fall, because the initiatives they were associated with were ending. Consequently, (…) the fall is 10 billion ».

The Technical Minute of the Council of Rectors shows that the statement of Minister Briones is not supported by the figures published by the same Budget Office, nor does it respond to decisions that have been previously known by the universities. In the appropriations corresponding to the G-9 State Universities and Non-State Public Universities, a reduction of close to $42 billion in basal funds is observed. Although some of them are assigned through annual project applications, their total amount is permanent and they are not associated with programs that a priori had a specific duration, as the minister suggested.

The second point addresses transparency and accountability. In this area, the Finance authorities have been insistent in asserting an alleged lack of transparency and accountability of our universities, statements that are not only ineffective, but also reflect a profound ignorance about the mechanisms through which the universities they give a regular and transparent account of their academic, administrative and financial actions.

State universities are the institutions with the highest regulation of the higher education system, as they are part of the entities that make up the Chilean Public Administration system. In addition to the controls applicable to all Higher Education Institutions (IES) through the Ministry of Education (Mineduc), all current public regulations are applied to these universities and the permanent control of the Comptroller General of the Republic (CGR) , which also carries out an annual program of thematic audits and unplanned audits at the 18 state universities.

The CGR controls all acts that signify relevant economic events in the state universities and also has an updated and detailed database of all the people who have contractual ties with these universities.

Furthermore, state universities must submit a detailed account of their financial, accounting, and budgeting management every three months to the CGR, also supplemented with management reports. This information is also provided every six months to the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Finance, in compliance with Decree 180, which regulates the budgetary system of the universities that receive Direct Fiscal Contribution.

Additionally, the financial statements of the state universities are audited annually by external auditing companies registered with the Commission for the Financial Market CMF under IFRS Standards and are part of the profuse financial, accounting and budgetary information available on their web portals in the modality of Transparency Active.

For their part, the CRUCH Non-State Public Universities, grouped in the G-9 network, have for several years had various accountability practices, as well as organization and management models in financial and administrative areas.

Specifically, in matters of financial management and in accordance with the provisions of Law 21,091, the G-9 universities report their actions to the Superintendency of Higher Education. In addition, they render all expenses associated with public funds to the General Treasury of the Republic, being subject to periodic audits to verify compliance with the financial administration provisions of the State.

Finally, the third focus of criticism by the Executive has focused on the eventual increase in salaries in the universities receiving tax contributions. At this point, it is important to specify that the increase in expenses for salaries is accompanied by an important context that the authority omits.

The Ministry indicates that the increase in the expense of salaries in the State Universities is 14.7% in the period 2016-2019 and 8.3% in the case of managers between 2018 and 2019, without considering the creation of the universities of Aysén and O'Higgins, nor the updating of salaries according to the readjustment of the public sector - this factor alone explains more than 2 percentage points in the period analyzed. Nor does it consider the application of laws Nº20,996 and Nº21,043 of incentive to retirement -in application since 2017- and that contemplate an additional bonus of up to 11 months of monthly income when an academic or official retires upon reaching 65 years and that is imputed to salaries, nor the increase of 6.7% in total enrollment experienced by CRUCH institutions in the same period, which requires more academic and administrative staff.

"In this way, the statements of the Treasury are incomprehensible and we believe that they only seek to discredit serious and responsible institutions in the use of their resources," concluded the executive vice president of CRUCH.

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