UCA limits new scholarships due to CNU budget blow

UCA limits new scholarships due to CNU budget blow

The drastic reduction in the 6% budget allocated to the Central American University (UCA) has caused the student scholarship program to lose its ability to benefit new low-income students.

“Until now, the university has not stopped renewing active scholarships annually; however, it has been prevented from awarding new scholarships to most of the new applicants who have submitted applications,” he replied to CONFIDENTIAL, the Directorate of the UCA.

The first reduction in the budget allocation occurred in 2019, in that year the National Council of Universities (UCN) allocated C$184,548,747, 26.7% less than the previous year, which would rise to 30% due to the devaluation of the currency. This decrease meant that in that year, the UCA reduced 600 scholarship slots from the 1,500 available, which included the cancellation of scholarships for academic excellence, as confirmed by the Jesuit priest José Alberto Idiáquez, rector of this house of studies, to Niú magazine.

At that time, the university had scholarships for about 5,000 students, of the 8,500 active students, added Idiáquez. In 2022, the budget allocation is barely one million cordobas, which compared to the C$251,898,512 received in 2018, represents a decrease of 99.6%.

As confided to CONFIDENTIAL, a source close to the UCA, less than a hundred new high school graduates will receive scholarships. Which would indicate a decrease in scholarships of 93.4% compared to 2019. The current number of scholarships that this university has is unknown.

Low-income students affected

Noel López is one of the thousands of university students who was able to graduate thanks to a full scholarship at the UCA. The 26-year-old concluded his Systems Engineering degree; During all his years of study, he benefited from financial aid to cover expenses related to transportation.

“I think it is unfortunate that many students no longer have access to the benefit of a scholarship at the UCA, which apart from financial support, not only means having access to tuition material or resources, but also access to many opportunities for networking, of international exchanges, which if you take advantage of them could give an amazing direction to your professional and personal future”, he comments.

Another former student who received a full scholarship at this university explained that, thanks to this benefit, she was the first person in her family to finish a university degree. “It is sad that now other high school graduates lose the opportunity to study at a university like the UCA, which, due to its prestige, opens up many opportunities for you even to go on an exchange”, he laments.

At the UCA, the scholarship programs are executed by the Department of Management of Undergraduate Scholarships and before, each year they awarded tuition scholarships in four categories: 100%, 75%, 50% and 25%, according to the economic conditions of the students. Also, they give sports scholarships and cultural scholarships to those students who have talents in choir, lyrical singing, music, dance, theater, literature and guitar. Likewise, they used to award scholarships for academic excellence to the two best public school students.

The reprisals against the UCA began in 2018, which was marked by protests. In that year the university denounced that the Government had not given them the part of 6% that they receive each month, and that due to the situation they would have to completely suspend their activities during the month of August. Faced with the pressure that triggered this situation, the CNU handed over the assigned amount.

However, months later a campaign began in which they accused the UCA of not using the 6% money for scholarships and that since it is a private university it should not receive that aid. The following year began the reduction in the distribution of the university budget.

Workers fear job cuts

CONFIDENTIAL consulted this university if there will be a reduction in teaching staff or an increase in fees to weigh the decrease in the university budget and they assured that “the university maintains the teaching staff that is required according to the academic offer made up of degree programs, postgraduate and continuing education. The number of teachers hired varies according to said offer and the number of active students in each program.

Likewise, they pointed out that “no increases are being made in the cost of the fees for subjects of the different careers for new or re-entry students in this year 2022.”

An employee of this university commented, under anonymity to CONFIDENTIAL, that inside the campus the atmosphere is tense. The workers do not know how this cut will impact them and consider the closure of some areas possible, such as the alumni office, culture or sports.

In previous years, the university implemented a voluntary retirement plan. This is a program that contemplates the resignation of the worker in exchange for an economic incentive and is used by some companies to optimize their resources. Spontaneous resignations were also added to this, the sources confided.

Another university affected by a drastic decrease in the budget is the Catholic University of the Dry Tropics (Ucatse), located in Estelí. CONFIDENTIAL He contacted the authorities of this university, but no response was received.

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