(QCOSTARICA) Former university professor and current president Luis Guillermo Solis announced an increase in funding for state universities, which went from ¢359 billion to ¢410 billion colones, a hike of 14% in the Special Fund for Superior Education (FEES). Plans are to raise the fund to 1.5% of GDP, with the current increase it would stand at 1.8%.
This fund is split among three state universities, the University of Costa Rica (UCR), the National University (UNA), and the Technology University (TEC). While the UNA and TEC have plans to spend more money on infrastracture, the UCR will see a salary hike for staff, according to the current labor agreement salaries will go up 12.95%. In fact, the UCR spends 70% of its annual budget on salaries.
The state university system has a long-time critic in Libertarian deputy Otto Guevara, who stated in May that “the UCR spends ¢5 million colones per student per year, the UNA over ¢3.9 million and TEC over ¢4 million.” Guevara based his figure on dividing the money given to schools by the number of students and proposed that the FEES money be given to CONAPE, so that each student can finance their own education in public and private schools.
Guevara also criticized the long breaks in state schools, and the daytime lesson hours ” The schedules of public universities are not designed for those who work, who are of course in a lower socio-economic level. These students must finance their education using mortgages at private schools. The FEES money should go to CONAPE and loaned to students with requiring mortgages.”
UCR Vice Rector criticized Guevara’s calculation. “The FEES money is used for many purposes, so that method is incorrect, the actual cost per student is about 3 million colones.”
Future UNA rector and former legislator Albert Salom reckons that Guevara has an agenda of “fortifying the private universities, of which some have questionable practices and quality of education” He mentioned a recent case of a private university accreditation system that was “spurious” at best. He stated that one can’t “compare squash to potatoes”, and private universities can have a lower cost per student, but they don’t offer scholarships or do community work, citing UNA’s volcanic laboratory OVSICORI and Institute for Tropical Studies as good examples.
Article by iNews.co.cr