April 6, 2017

A serious questioning about the many changes the higher education reform has undergone made the President of our University, Alvaro Rojas, during his speech at the opening of the 2017 Academic Year of our Academic Institution.
During the ceremony, which was attended by Intendant Pablo Meza, among other high regional authorities, and with the master class "Progress and Gaps: Women and Inequality In Chile", by the prominent economist Andrea Repetto, Rojas said that the expectations of a major reform of national education have faded progressively, mainly due to economic, structural, political, ideological, and management factors.
"Changes and variations of the model and deeper transformations have been the permanent doctrinarian tension of post dictatorship governments," he said.  
In such a scenario, and already in the field of the announced changes to the higher education system, Rojas noted that, of the members of the original political and technical team that led to the design of the reform, "none of them remains in the management of the Initiative."
Furthermore, he observed that even the leadership of the project has been changing of administration. "Originally, it was based in the Department of Education itself, then it was shared between the General Secretary of the Government and Education and, more recently, in the Treasury Department," he said.
"What remains today of the original reform of Higher Education, whose main contents, in particular those relating to regulation, quality assurance and financing, were demanded since the return to democracy?" was the question raised by the president.
Immediately after, Alvaro Rojas warned that  now, seven months before the next presidential election, the progress made by the Initiative - as a process of profound transformation, " is tremendously unsatisfactory, because to date it has no other progress to show that the gratuity for the first five deciles."
"I use the word “main advance” speaking of gratuity and I don’t mention it as an achievement, since gratuity depends on the Public Sector Budget bill, that is to say, a law that consists in a financial estimate of the revenues and an authorization of expenditure for a given year. Its validity is annual and subject to modifications and changes," he stressed.
 State Universities
In the aforementioned context, Rojas said the reform would also have as an achievement, "that the Parliament welcomes the initiative, a special law for state universities, which would set a legal framework, under certain general criteria, in relation to corporate governance, internal organization and joint action. The project also touches aspects that contribute to the reduce the bureaucratization of the universities and to promote their development."
He added that the rest of the body of law, once the Parliament agreed to the idea of legislating, would be accepted for discussion in a legislative time that will not allow its delivery at the end of this year. "That is to say, it would be for the new government and the new parliament to discuss," he said.
"In summary, the gratuity for 2018, secured again via the Budget Law and a new legal framework for state universities, would be the product of more than three years of discussion. The issues of regulation, quality assurance, institutional organization of the Department and funding, to name just the main chapters, will remain as they are now, left at the mercy of the political and legislative initiative of the next government," he said.
 In addition to the aforementioned considerations on the University Reform, Rojas emphasized other aspects relevant to the community of the UTALCA, the first of which is "the satisfaction and pride" with the degree of development achieved by the institution, "which places us as the best non-metropolitan state university of the country; a real example for the entire university system, independent of their location and character."
Another area he touched in particular, relates to the great challenges linked to the development of the University in the next five years, according to the definitions set out in the 2020Strategic Plan.
At the end of the ceremony, and concerning these questions formulated by the president, the Intendant Pablo Meza answered that as an academic, the president "has the right to submit his view on the reforms and public policies that we are carrying out."
"I have a great appreciation for Alvaro Rojas, I recognize his dedication and effort to have a high level state university, therefore I take his critical views very seriously and with consideration, but I have naturally  the view of the government and therefore we have differences of opinion," he said.
Also talked at the ceremony the president of the Talca Campus Federation of Students (Feutal), Eliana Adams, who in her speech, called his comrades to become true actors of society and to work together for a better Chile, "with less injustice and more dignity."
The leader invited his colleagues to participate actively in their organizations, and in particular the women in leadership positions, in order to empower their executive roles.
There was also a concert by The Young Symphony Orchestra of the University of Talca, conducted by Patricio Cobos, which played West Side Story, by Leonard Berstein.
 Progress And Gaps
Next, academic and economist Andrea Repetto gave a lecture in which she referred to the progress in overcoming the inequality of women and stressed the need to make some adjustments in the public policies to close the remaining gaps.
Among the advances, she mentioned the increase in enrolment in higher education, which exceeds 50% of the total, 10 points higher than in 1990. Similarly, the labor force participation also reflects a positive evolution: an INE survey established that the participation of women between 25 and 59 years old exceeds 55%, compared to 40% of 1988.
"The trend is clear, women’s participation has been increasing substantially in the past few decades, but in terms of leadership, it has permeated the world of management and politics," she said, along with pointing out that only 6% of the board of directors of the companies is constituted by women, while their presence in the Congress is 15%.
In this context, she examined the role that society assigns to women, how the public policies reinforce these aspects, and the need to implement some tools of support, in particular, through gender quotas, an option she talked about using data from the academic literature.
Likewise, she also mentioned various studies that account for the role of lag that society grants to women.
"That permeates the way we interact," she emphasized. As an example, she noted that primary school teachers believe that boys have better expectations in math than girls. Ashe also gave examples of how this vision permeates public policies, specifically in some articles of the Labor Code on pre- and post-natal care for women, and only in the last six weeks as an option for the father. In the same way she referred to article 199 on medical leave for working women, in case of serious illness of a child under one year of age. "The reform, which entered Congress, refers in part to who cares for the child who suffers from a catastrophic illness," she explained, at the same time that she highlighted the opportunity to introduce a favorable change.
Concerning the quota system, Repetto referred to the experiences of India and Sweden, in the political world, with positive results in terms of efficiency in the solution of problems, less corruption, change in the expectations of parents in relation to their daughters and closing the gap of schooling, in the case of India.
Regarding Norway, it addressed the provision on quotas in Direction Boards of companies, which states that in a corporation at least 50% of its managers must be women.
"The quotas system has shown that these are effective, especially in that public policies are more aligned with the preferences of women, which are different. Quotas are not a problem in meritocracy, which is the big question. We know that quotas end up raising the capacities of those who are the representatives of both men and women," she stressed.
At the same time, she addressed some of the progress that has been made in the country in terms of the law of quotas for parliamentary candidates and the presence of women in trade union negotiating tables.
She said, moreover, that the Academia can intervene as Engineering of the University of Chile does, prioritizing 40 quotas for women on the waiting list.
The prominent economist noted that Chile is a very uneven country, and the solutions "rest in good part on greater equity for women."
Repetto holds a PhD in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Master's Degree in Economy from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and one in Business Management from the same university.
She has published a number of studies in the areas of economics and psychology, economics and education, labor economics and economic growth and productivity.
She presides over the State Council; she is director of Public Space and has integrated various advisory committees, including the presidential anti-corruption council, the pension reform council and the advisory body on labor and social equity. She is currently the director of the Center for Labor Policies of the Adolfo Ibáñez University and professor of the School of Government.