UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT DEMANDED CLARITY ABOUT FUNDING OF UNIVERSITIES
ÁLVARO ROJAS HIGHLIGHTED PROGRESS MADE BY THE CORPORATION; MADE PROPOSALS REGARDING THE NEW LAW ON HIGHER EDUCATION AND THE AUTONOMY OF PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES.
April 12, 2016
When opening the academic year, President Álvaro Rojas focused on the structuring of a state universities system that guarantee a pluralistic education of quality and the promotion of territorial and national development, but in a context of autonomy for the institutions.
Likewise, he regretted that the new Law of Higher Education is known only through leaks and work minutes.
In that context, he called for “clear funding rules for the various components of the system, demands of high quality to all the institutions and the definition of a system of education founded on the ability to articulate and respect the decision-making autonomy of the state universities.”
Authorities of the region and of our Institution, together with members of the university community, attended the ceremony, held in the Main Hall of the Bicentennial Space.
During the solemn ceremony, the music was in charge of the Youth Symphony Orchestra of the University, conducted by professor Patricio Cobos.
In the first part of his speech, the president talked about the major advances achieved during the past year, in the framework of the organizational Strategic Plan and according to the challenge of being a relevant state university of quality.
Among the many initiatives carried out, he mentioned the design of the 2020Strategic Plan, the beginning of the modernization project of administrative and financial management (Institutional ERP), and the infrastructure increase of 9 thousand square meters, with works such as the Bicentennial Space, the Laboratory of Nutrition and Dietetics, the expansion of the School of Music and the remodeling of the new headquarters.
He also pointed out the creation of the new Engineering in Video Games and Virtual Reality Development degree program, and Electric Civil Engineering, together with the English Teaching Program.
He also said that the doctoral programs were increased to nine, with the creation of the Biomedical Sciences program. In addition, the master's degrees are over 25 and the dental specialties increased to five. He also highlighted the achievements in the area of research, with 57 Regular Fondecyt projects, 29 Initiation into Research projects and 21 Postdoctoral Fellowships. He said that publications increased 10 percent, and the amounts awarded for research increased 25 per cent.
Over the coming period, he noted that 2016 will have special meaning because it “the discussion of the reform of our sector should move decisively.”
Concerning the new Law of Higher Education, he indicated that it gets to be known only “through leaks and minutes of work”. Therefore, he argued that a way of addressing the topic is by “fixing a position with regarding the law, more than making punctual comments on drafts and biases that are still in the process of development”.
In terms of funding, he stated that the information is also insufficient. “We only know what all of you have heard profusely in these months with regard to gratuity,” he said. He added that the new legal framework does not intend to abolish the prevailing order of recognizing a system of “mix supply” and a system of funding which means proportionally greater resources to private institutions rather than to state ones.
The biggest goal for the new legal frame is, in his opinion, “to reform the funding rules, engaging a sector that has grown and consolidated unregulated”. In this point he said that “there are too many interests at stake,” and demanded the need to meet clear criteria that will govern the financing of each of the components of the national system.
He also mentioned that the regulatory framework must be very precise and fine tuned about the coherent functioning of the system, given that “under a regime of guaranteed gratuity, without limitations on the performance or admission tests to applicants, the expansion of the demand for gratuity can disrupt the overall functioning of the system.”
On the other hand, Rojas insisted on mandatory accreditation for all institutions of higher education.
In his opinion, it is necessary to structure a system of state universities and he indicated that more than a regulatory framework for the state universities, it should be promoted a set of actions and instruments that make it possible for their strengthening, with a view to ensuring an education that is of quality, pluralist, advocating equity, participatory, and a determinant promoter of territorial and national development.
Along with this, he stressed the respect for the autonomy of the respective universities. “They do not require metropolitan regulators, neither the hegemony of any particular institution. There were none when it was needed, even less now after almost half a century of autonomous functioning,” he said.
The Opening ceremony of the Academic Year had extensive coverage through the media of the Universidad de Talca. It was broadcast live by the CAMPUS TV station in HD through channel 25.1 and online streaming at www.campustv.cl. It was likewise broadcast by the university’s radio station.
In social networks (Twitter), it managed to reach nearly 1 million 500 thousand accounts with the #InsulzaenUTalca hashtag, which was hosted by the @UTalca and @CampusTVHD accounts. The ceremony became that day, April 12, the second most popular topic at the regional level.
The digital community of the University —almost 43 thousand followers— actively participated in this activity, sharing pictures and opinions on this event.