The rectors of the G9 Public Non-State Universities Network met for the first time with the President of the Republic Gabriel Boric, to talk about higher education, the challenges and opportunities posed by the new constituent process and the network’s contributions to rethinking a new system of funding for the higher education system as a whole.
In an interview that lasted more than an hour, the rectors asked the highest authority of the country, the Minister of Education and the Undersecretary for Higher Studies, the historical relevance of the recognition of the G9 Universities in the New Constitution and of the definition of a new deal by the Government with the institutions of the network.
The President of the G9 Universities Network and Rector of the U. de Concepción, Carlos Saavedra, commented that the main objective of this meeting “was to express to him, of the nine universities that make up the network, which have contributed to the historical development of the university system in our country for more than a century, the will to continue to contribute to the challenges that the State has, in the various areas in which our institutions intervene, and, at the same time, to arouse the interest of our houses of study so that, in the new constitutional process that our country is experiencing , can be considered the document we have prepared, Contributions to the constitutional process, where you can find the proposed regulation on higher education proposed by the G9 universities”. Furthermore, added Rector Saavedra, President Boric shared the concern and the interest of the G9 Universities in recognizing the historic public role that these institutions have, “by contributing to development of the university system in our country and that this recognition is in constitutional terms, guaranteeing the necessary funding to carry out the tasks with the levels of excellence that our universities have developed throughout their history”.
Balanced delivery of resources
With regard to funding, the president of the G9 Network added that from the group “we explained in detail how the universities of the G9, since the recovery of democracy onwards, are significantly regressing in the institutional contributions of the State. Today, in terms of resources institutions, for every weight that the G9 universities receive, the state universities receive two and, therefore, we hope that in the future a correction on the matter can be generated, it being understood that, if there is a greater investment in state universities, this must also be accompanied by an increase in investments in our institutions, given the territorial roots we represent: we are present in eleven regions, twenty cities, with more than 161,000 undergraduates, 12,500 postgraduates and in all the indicators of excellence we represent over 40% of the indicators of quality of the whole system, representing only 15% of the universities”.
The rector Ignacio Sánchez, of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, explained that he had raised with President Boric the importance of increasing the government’s financial contributions to the institutions grouped in the G9 network, “based on the underlining of two aspects that Chile has had to live in recent years and that our institutions have demonstrated their unique contribution: to topics such as social cohesion during the epidemic and mass vaccination measures during the pandemic. We explained to the President that university institutions are very difficult to build with their academic bodies, which make an extraordinary contribution to the country and that this requires resources, so there are glosses of contributions to institutions that have been lost and the President has promised to evaluate what those glosses were and to what extent we can recover them”.
Rector Sánchez added that the institutions of the network generate contributions for the benefit of the country and its inhabitants. “When you have this concept, the focus of the contribution that the rector Saavedra explained changes. Indeed, with the resources we receive today as G9 institutions, a very significant contribution is being made in teaching, knowledge creation, public contribution to the communities we represent and, in this sense, I particularly appreciate the dialogue that has taken place with the President, with the Minister and with the Undersecretary, to address the realities we are experiencing today (…) we cannot continue to meet the needs that the country requires if we do not have a significant contribution from the State, because it is up to the and to the country we serve in terms of creating new knowledge”.
Recognition of the public role of the G9 universities in the new constituent process
The rectors of the G9 Universities have positively evaluated President Boric’s acceptance of the recognition of the public role of the institutions that make up the network, so that it is contemplated in the new constituent process. “The President understood very well and said so regarding the recognition of our universities, that we have historically contributed to the development of higher education and, in this sense, he promised not to harm the G9 universities and that, understanding the its government plan and support to state universities, we as traditional universities deserve to have that treatment that allows us to continue to develop our educational project. We generate 50% of scientific production, therefore, if we have the necessary investments, we can continue to contribute even more to the scientific development and higher education that Chile deserves”, underlined the Rector Cristhian Mellado, of the Catholic University of the Holy Conception.
This meeting was attended by the President of the Republic Gabriel Boric; the Minister of Education, Marco Antonio Ávila; the Undersecretary of Higher Education Verónica Figueroa Huencho; the President of the G9 Network and Rector of the UdeC, Carlos Saavedra; the Vice Presidents of the Rectors of the G9 Network Ignacio Sánchez, of the UC and Cristhian Mellado of the UCSC; the Rector of the PUCV, Nelson Vásquez; the Rector of USM, Juan Yuz; the Rector of the UACh, Hans Richter; the Rector of the UCM, Claudio Rojas and the Rector of the UCT, Aliro Bórquez