UBA Rector Warns University May Close in 2024 Amid Budget Dispute with Milei Administration

The University of Buenos Aires faces closure in 2024 due to budget disputes with the Milei administration, prompting nationwide protests and a meeting to address funding for higher education in Argentina.

Salman Akhtar
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UBA Rector Warns University May Close in 2024 Amid Budget Dispute with Milei Administration

UBA Rector Warns University May Close in 2024 Amid Budget Dispute with Milei Administration

Ricardo Gelpi, the rector of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), has issued a dire warning that the university may be compelled to close in 2024 if the government fails to provide the requested funds amid ongoing budget disputes between universities and the Milei administration. Gelpi stated that if there is no money to meet the university's budgetary needs, "there will be no alternative but to close it".

The former dean of the UBA Faculty of Medicine noted that the money allocated for the Education sector in January and February was at last year's values, and a 70% reinforcement promised in March has not yet arrived. Additionally, another 70% increase was expected in May. The government had initially confirmed a budget increase, but university authorities later denied this.

The UBA and other universities are facing a severe budget crisis, with some already declaring an economic emergency. This has led to measures such as restricting student enrollment, moving out of rental offices, and suspending the purchase of supplies and equipment. The UBA School of Medicine, which cares for 1,000 mostly indigent patients daily, has had to shut off lights in most of its buildings due to a 26% nominal and 80% real budget cut.

Why this matters: The potential closure of the University of Buenos Aires, one of the largest and most prestigious universities in Argentina, would have far-reaching consequences for higher education in the country. The ongoing budget dispute highlights the challenges faced by public universities in maintaining their operations and providing quality education to students.

The National Interuniversity Council (CIN) has confirmed a Federal University March on April 23, promoted by the 57 national universities, in response to the government's budget cuts. Students, faculty, and supporters are planning a massive protest on Tuesday to demand increased funding for the university system. The UBA and other universities have called for a 300% increase in public university budgets, but the Milei administration has so far refused to provide the requested funds.

A meeting has been scheduled for April 30th between the Secretary of Education and the National Interuniversity Council to discuss updating the funding for higher education, including an expansion of the budget, audit and inspection processes, and a disbursement schedule for the operation of university hospitals. However, Gelpi remains skeptical, stating that the government is also questioning the value of public education, public health, and public science.

Key Takeaways

  • UBA rector warns university may close in 2024 if gov't fails to provide requested funds.
  • UBA and other universities face severe budget crisis, leading to enrollment restrictions and facility closures.
  • National universities plan massive protest on April 23 to demand increased funding.
  • UBA calls for 300% budget increase, but Milei administration has refused to provide requested funds.
  • Meeting scheduled on April 30 to discuss updating higher education funding, but rector remains skeptical.