By Monica Mancero for Gkillcity.com
The pitiful scandal that has sparked this week the interview of the former rector of the Yachay University is merely the confirmation of what many scholars had warned : a project conceived without sufficient foundation, without anchors in the small niches of science and technology the country has, and that responds to a centralized and authoritarian higher education model.
The fact that more than 600 students are barely attending leveling courses for their early undergraduate years at a university that intends to be at the vanguard of knowledge, is something that in many sectors of the Ecuadorian Academy do not understand. It will be the most expensive leveling and undergraduate course in the history of this country. The funding they receive is scandalously high and inequitable, if compared with other public universities, which barely have enough resources to afford tens of thousands of students in their overcrowded classrooms.
The former rector of the University has revealed irregularities in unnecessary consultancy services, in lucrative contracts of those who do not reside in the country, and in response he has received threats of libel suits against him.
All this accounts for two things: a centralized model and the incompetence in managing the issue of higher education. This inefficiency is caused by being improvised by professionals with no minimum experience in academic management; without knowledge of the reality of higher education in our country; and which pretends having the monopoly of the truth, which has led to close all ways of dialogue with the Ecuadorian university community. The Secretariat for Higher Education SENESCYT is jointly responsible of the Yachay disaster.
My opinion is that Yachay is the tip of the iceberg of a complex situation of a model of far from democratic and vertical higher education model, despite the investment of significant resources in scholarships, emblematic universities, in the attempt to build on knowledge and technology,it has finished erecting an authoritarian model.
A comparative analysis of the university management systems in AL evidences that the Ecuadorian system stands as one in which the government holds more authority and competence, since it controls the admission system to universities; the curriculum content of the leveling stage; scholarship programs for academic mobility; it has created new universities under its strict surveillance; and even controls the bodies of government and university accreditation. This model shows that the detailed administrative and budgetary “tracking” the state makes on universities ends severely limiting their academic autonomy. Consequently, the ideological diversity and the academic and politica universitary pluralism are threatened.