The salaries of the ULA and of any public university are established based on salary tables and benefits calculated based on the minimum wage, which has been maintained at Bs 130 since March 2022. The recent remuneration adjustment approved by Nicolás Maduro does not improve his conditions and, in the case of retirees, worsens them
The crisis of the public higher education system is multidimensional, but the main problem at present is of an economic nature, since the accounts are not enough to cover all the expenses that a university requires to offer quality education, important to train future professionals who will take the reins of the country.
According to the rector of the Universidad de Los Andes (ULA), Mario Bonucci, the very poor minimum wage paid to the public administration and the practical absence of a budget assigned to the institution result in staff spending more money than they earn for work at the university, financing this responsibility with the remuneration obtained from additional jobs.
“We have staff with two and three jobs, who with that second job are paying for the transportation they use to get to the university or the food they eat. They are paying for work,” he confessed in statements collected by The nation.
One of the cases that make it possible to demonstrate the gloom suffered by teachers, workers, administrative staff and even university managers is that of the person in charge of formulating budgets, who works on weekends in a market selling vegetables.
«We have an emblematic case, the official who makes us the budget formulation, with great academic and professional training, Friday, Saturday and Sunday sells vegetables in a market; to be able to work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the university with a miserable salary », he recounted.
In the particular case of Bonucci, he confessed that his income is less than $100 a month and that he survives in the country thanks to the remittances he receives from his relatives living in Spain. However, her commitment to the institution is contingent on a lifetime of work for the university.
«The two master’s degrees that I have, my house, my car, I owe everything to the ULA. How am I not going to return all that he has done for us? That is the same way of thinking of those people who make it possible for the university to remain open, hurt but more alive than ever », he reasoned.
Despite the fact that many teachers remain by vocation for their work teaching and the commitment they feel they have with their students; many others have decided to seek other paths due to precarious wages. At this time, an estimated 10% dropout of teachers and around 6% of employees and workers.
The salaries of the ULA and of any public university are established based on salary tables and benefits calculated based on the minimum wage, which has been maintained at Bs 130 since March 2022. The recent remuneration adjustment approved by Nicolás Maduro does not improve his conditions and, in the case of retirees, makes them worse.
«They are going to pay active teachers a salary while retirees are paid 70% of that. Why are they going to differentiate them, if they have given their lives to the nation? We have had to convince quite a few retirees to stay with us. Between 30% and 40% of our payroll are retirees. Many of them are not charging anything for continuing to work and, on top of the fact that they are working for free, the bonus is 70%”, he denounced.
Zero investment in the ULA
Just as it happens with the professors, the institution suffers the consequences of the lack of money, since it does not receive the necessary amounts to maintain the operability and much less to make the pertinent investments to update and innovate the infrastructure and equipment.
Bonucci explained that in 2020 they received 50% of the budget that had originally been allocated. The story in 2021 was even worse, with only 10%, which also represented 1% in currencies due to the devaluation of the currency; while in 2022 the figure was even smaller at 3.24%. “That is to say: there is no budget,” he reflected.
According to the university authority, the ULA requires about $30 million just to renew the infrastructure, but if we talk about technological investment, the amount could double or even triple.
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