Tens of Thousands Protest in Argentina Against University Funding Cuts

Thousands of Argentines protest Milei's public university funding cuts, which may force the University of Buenos Aires to close within 3 months, highlighting an ideological battle over the role of free public education in Argentina.

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Nitish Verma
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Tens of Thousands Protest in Argentina Against University Funding Cuts

Tens of Thousands Protest in Argentina Against University Funding Cuts

Tens of thousands of Argentines took to the streets of Buenos Aires and other cities on Monday to protest against President Javier Milei's public university funding cuts, which may force the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) to close within 3 months. The protesters, including students, professors, trade unions, and leftist political parties, are pushing back against budget cuts that have already forced UBA to declare a financial emergency.

The UBA, one of the best universities in Latin America, has received only 8.9% of its total budget from the state, and it has warned that without a rescue plan, the school will shut down, stranding 380,000 students. The budget crisis at Argentina's public universities has led to power outages, lack of basic services, and professors teaching without microphones or projectors.

Why this matters: The protests highlight the larger ideological battle between Milei and his leftist political rivals over the role of public universities in Argentina. The cuts threaten to undermine access to quality, free public university education, which has long been considered a national birthright and a source of social progress in the country.

Milei, a libertarian president who came to power in December 2023, is implementing radical austerity measures to reach a zero deficit, including shutting down ministries, defunding cultural centers, and cutting subsidies. He has defended the university funding cuts as part of his drive to reach a fiscal surplus, but the protesters argue that free and quality public university education is a birthright in Argentina.

Even some conservative politicians, private university administrators, and right-wing TV personalities joined the march in defense of public education. "The cuts are devastating the country's public education system, which has long been considered a national birthright," said one protester.

The government has promised some additional funding, but university authorities say it is not enough to cover their needs. UBA is facing a 61% annual budget cut and can only last 2-3 months without additional funding. The protests, held under the slogan "In defense of free public university", aim to defend free public education in Argentina as the Milei administration's policies threaten the viability of the country's public universities.

Key Takeaways

  • Tens of thousands protest in Argentina against Milei's public university funding cuts
  • Cuts may force the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) to close within 3 months
  • UBA has only received 8.9% of its budget from the state, facing a 61% annual cut
  • Cuts threaten access to free, quality public university education, a national birthright
  • Even some conservatives joined the protest in defense of public education