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ARGENTINA | 26-04-2024 11:48

Poll: State universities are ‘most reliable’ institution in Argentina

Poliarquía survey of reliability of national institutions ranks state universities highly, way ahead of the Armed Forces, the Catholic Church, the media, politicians and big business.

A new survey indicates that Argentina’s public universities are considered to be one of the reliable institutions in the country.

Polling by the Poliarquía consultancy firm shows that state higher education institutes are considered to be more trustworthy than any other entity in Argentina. Public universities scored 71 points on the survey’s ranking, scoring them as “very reliable” or “quite reliable.”

By way of comparison, Argentina’s Armed Forces scored just 42 points (29 less), with the Catholic Church on 23 points and the media registered just 20.

At the very far end of the scale, the Supreme Court and Congress both had 11 points, above big business and unions on seven, and lastly, political parties with just six.

Hundreds of thousands of Argentines took to the streets this week to voice outrage at government cuts to higher public education institutions. 

Protests in Buenos Aires and other major cities such as Córdoba created one of the biggest demonstrations yet against the austerity measures introduced by President Javier Milei’s administration.

Poliarquía director Alejandro Catterberg, highlighted in a tweet that “public universities are the institution with the most reliability among Argentines.” He added that “there’s a social ideal in public education, regardless of the discredit of political leaders defending it.”

With this index at hand, he outlined the political risks for President Milei in challenging higher education, which is free to Argentines and foreigners. 

“It is not the same for Javier Milei to face Congress, unions, political parties, courts or the media than doing it against universities and education,” said Catterberg.

Following Tuesday’s massive mobilisation, Argentina’s self-described “anarcho-capitalist” head of state denied any “intention to close state universities.”

In a post on social media “Noble causes, dark motives,” Milei wrote: “Irrespective of the discussion about what is the higher education model desirable for a country where six out of ten children are poor, at no time did the Government suggest the intention to close state universities.”

Vice-President Victoria Villarruel, who highlighted her studies at national universities, questioned the strong presence of political activists on campus. 

Milei’s government has wielded its ‘chainsaw’ spending cuts to all 65 state universities and institutions, retaining last year’s budget for the sector – despite runaway inflation topping 290 percent over the last 12 months. 

In a press release issued prior to last Tuesday’s march, the government said that while “public education is a right, auditing is an obligation,” confirming its intention to fully assess spending at higher education institutions. 

Presidential Spokesperson Manuel Adorni insisted this week that “channels of dialogue” are open with university bosses and that institutions “would not close.” He insisted, however, that the budgets for institutions should be transparent.

“We’re the biggest defenders of public universities. We will defend them like no other,” he claimed, brushing off questions about cutbacks.

“Part of the defence of a public university has to come with audits, which are a part of it. We all want the same thing,” he said.

The results of Poliarquía’s survey, which show the existence of “a social ideal in public education,” according to Catterberg, which is a source of upward social mobility and a principle on which the middle class is grounded.

 

– TIMES/NA

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