Consejo de rectores propone incorporar diversas medidas en ley de presupuesto 2022 para favorecer sustentabilidad de las universidades

Among other proposals, the CRUCH proposes making more flexible the use of the surpluses of the University Credit Solidarity Fund, creating a special support fund for universities and repealing article 108 of Law 21.091, referring to students who lose the benefit of Gratuity.

Today, starting at 6:00 p.m., the Mixed Budget Commission will review the Higher Education item of the Budget Law for the Public Sector corresponding to the year 2022 and, in this context, the executive vice president of the Council of Rectors and rector from the University of Santiago, Juan Manuel Zolezzi, stated that “in general terms, the budgets for Higher Education and Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation do not have the same cracks as last year's proposal, but after making a An exhaustive analysis of the financial status of the CRUCH universities, which have been seriously impacted by the pandemic and by other factors, we have defined a series of proposals aimed at favoring the sustainability of our institutions ”.

Rector Zolezzi pointed out that the CRUCH Economic Commission evaluated the 2022 budget bill and "in a first review we did not find the starting decreases in the same way as last year and although there is an increase of 6.1 % with respect to of the initial nominal for the year 2021, this is explained by the commitments associated with compliance with Law 21,091 on Higher Education and Law 21,094 on State Universities. However, if these elements are subtracted, it is basically a continuity budget compared to last year ”.

Regarding this increase, it is due to changes in programs 2 and 3 of Higher Education, which correspond to the strengthening of public higher education and higher education, respectively.

The executive vice president of CRUCH pointed out that “in program 2, the increase is fundamentally oriented towards the fulfillment of the delivery of resources for the strengthening of state universities, committed in law 21,094, which amounts to a total of 22 thousand 538 million. And in program 3, the increase in resources is associated with the Gratuity policy for private higher education institutions, that is, private universities, Professional Institutes and Technical Training Centers ”.

Financial situation of CRUCH universities

Among the critical areas for CRUCH universities is the financial impact of the pandemic in the last two years and, also, some of the effects of the Gratuity policy.

The financial impact of the pandemic on CRUCH institutions during the years 2020 and 2021 (in updated currency) amounts to approximately 433 billion pesos. In 2020 it was 247 billion and in 2021, a total of 185 billion, according to the analysis of the economic commission, led by the rectors Carlos Saavedra, from the University of Concepción, and Darcy Fuenzalida, from the University Technical Federico Santa María, and in which economic vice-rectors of various CRUCH universities participate.

On the other hand, the CRUCH universities have measured the effect of article 108 of Law 21,091, which refers to the consequences for universities and students who, having benefited from the Gratuity, exceed the formal duration of their careers.

The effects of article 108 in CRUCH universities during 2020 has been 25 billion. In this year 2021 it is of the order of 36 billion pesos and for next year it is estimated that it will be 50 billion pesos.

Make the use of FSCU and other priority measures more flexible

To address the financial situation of the universities, CRUCH proposes four priority measures and the first is to make the use of the Solidarity Fund for University Credit (FSCU) more flexible.

“What we support is that the effective use of the total accumulated surpluses of the Solidarity Fund be allowed, and extend its use up to 50%. The 2022 budget bill restricts the use of surpluses to those generated in 2021 and only allows the 35% of this fund to be used, "said Chancellor Zolezzi. He added that “this measure does not imply an increase in public spending or an additional cost for the Treasury or for anyone; it is about being able to use our funds and make better use of these resources to optimize the functioning of our institutions, especially to be able to cover the costs of the pandemic ”.

"We believe that it is a realistic proposal that takes into consideration the difficult situation facing the country's public finances, since no additional resources are required," said the executive vice president of CRUCH.

CRUCH's second proposal is to have emergency financing, that is, a special fund to support CRUCH universities and low-cost, guaranteed loans.

The third approach is to repeal article 108 of Law 21,091. In this regard, it is pointed out that, as it has been presented in previous years, it continues to cause a serious situation of underfunding of the institutions over time, and during 2020 and 2021 this has increased as a result of external situations to the students that they have had their careers extended.

Meanwhile, the fourth proposal is not to consider the years 2021 and 2020 for the calculation of Gratuity, precisely due to the irregularity of the years 2020 and 2021.

Other CRUCH proposals

The rest of the measures contemplated in the report and that were approved by the plenary session of the CRUCH, refer to condoning the reimbursement of scholarship resources; make the use of resources associated with projects more flexible; postpone the application of regulated tariffs; repeal the fifth paragraph of the thirty-eighth transitory article of Law No. 21,091; review the application of the regulations for the rendering of Free resources; increase the overhead of research projects; make the rendering of administrative expenses more flexible; achieve a better articulation and clarity of the different ministries that provide funding for science, technology, knowledge and innovation; and increase innovation resources in higher education to finance associative projects and regional projects