(Merida, 08/27/2020) – In another example of the outrage against the autonomous universities and the high school students of Venezuela, the Minister of University Education of the de facto regime, Cesar Trompiz, announced last August 17 that the University Sector Office of Planning (OPSU, by its acronym in Spanish)assigned 100% of the available places in the public universities of the country for new students. This action not only violates the provisions of the National Constitution and the Law on Universities regarding university autonomy, but also constitutes an act of discrimination against those who aspire to higher education by demonstrating their qualities in an internal test of knowledge.
In addition to this illegal action, the National System of Admission (SNI, by its acronym in Spanish) of the OPSU assigned spots in careers and universities that were not chosen as options by the graduates. This has been denounced by some of those affected. «Since the @opsuVzla began its process of assigning quotas to high school students, we have received a number of complaints from young people who are being assigned to careers that they did not choose and in ‘universities’ that they do not even know,» Yeissel Pérez, president of the Federation of University Centers of the University of Zulia (FCU-LUZ), published on Twitter.
The Observatory of Human Rights of the University of Los Andes (ODH-ULA) has repeatedly denounced the operation of the parallel university system created by the government of Hugo Chávez, whose scope the current facto regime seeks to expand with actions such as those mentioned above.
An injustice to university autonomy
«The allocation of 100% of the spots of new admission to the higher education system implies the continuation of a State policy of violation of university autonomy, academic freedom and quality education, which found one of its high points in the unconstitutional sentence No. 831, dated July 7, 2015, dictated by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), by means of which the public universities of the country were ordered to abide by the assignments made by the National System of Admission (SNI) of the OPSU», emphasizes a communiqué signed by different organizations linked to the Venezuelan university environment. The ObservatoryHuman Rightsof the University of Los Andes (ODH-ULA) is one of them.
Article 109 of the National Constitution establishes that «the autonomous universities will give their rules of government, operation and the efficient administration of their patrimony under the control and surveillance that the law establishes for such purposes». Likewise, in the Law on Universities, Article 9 indicates that they have «academic autonomy, to plan, organize, and carry out research, teaching, and extension programs that may be necessary for the fulfillment of their purposes.
Politicization and discrimination
Minister Trompiz said in the referred speech that the process of assigning quotas promoted the integration of the youth of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV, by its acronym in Spanish), the Venezuelan Federation of High School Students and the Venezuelan Federation of University Students, as well as directors of educational areas of the country and authorities that form the Association of Bolivarian Rectors (ARBOL,by its acronym in Spanish), an organization created by the government of Hugo Chávez to counteract the functions of the legitimate Venezuelan Association of Rectors (AVERU, by its acronym in Spanish).
The actors who participated in the unconstitutional and illegal allocation of university spot by the OPSU respond to the interests of facto regime, which politicizes an issue that should be guided by academic criteria where the qualities and honor of merit prevail.
Similarly, the allocation of 100% of the spots for university studies by the Opsu discriminates against those who have not been selected and have qualifications as opposed to those who assign them a spot without necessarily demonstrating capabilities. In addition, this Observatory emphasizes the violation of the right to choose what to study and in which university by assigning some high school graduates to careers and houses of study those were not included as options by the OPSU.
International treaties such as the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education, adopted by UNESCO on November 25, 2019, emphasize that access to higher education is a «right granted to every person who possesses a qualification to apply for and be considered for admission to a higher education level.
The internal selection tests carried out by the autonomous institutions of higher education are elaborated under strictly academic criteria by professionals in the corresponding areas, where the level of demand guarantees a process of selection that responds exclusively to the demonstrations of knowledge and qualities by the applicants.
The allocation of spots made by the facto regime without consultation with the universities ignores the capacities of these academic institutions and compromises the right to education, which must necessarily be an education of excellence.
Once again ODH-ULA rejects the abuse of power by agencies with competence in university affairs that have lost their institutional character and act as organs of the facto regime. This observatory will continue to denounce publicly and with the appropriate authorities the violations of academic freedom and university rights committed by the Venezuelan State.