The Central University of Venezuela has been an indispensable instrument for the modernization of the country, both for the training of trained professionals required in multiple areas, the generation of scientific, technical and humanistic knowledge to address the multiple national problems -and to position ourselves as interlocutors with the advances of humanity in the world–, as in the defense of freedom of opinion and the contrasting of ideas in the disinterested search for knowledge. He has been a spokesperson for the most advanced values of justice and the ethics of coexistence in democracy. Inevitably, it has confronted it with the dictatorial eagerness of those who control the State today, determined to silence all dissent or criticism that questions their power. Ideas other than the “truths revealed” by their leaders subvert the fictitious reality that they have built to legitimize themselves. It is not surprising, therefore, his harassment of national universities, denying them budget and condemning their academics and employees to subsist with miserable salaries. The challenge facing the UCV today is, therefore, how to continue and strengthen its capacities to fulfill its lofty mission.
I had the privilege of coordinating the UCV Strategic Plan between 2007 and 2013. There I learned very valuable contributions from qualified academics on university work in different areas. They allow me to offer some glimpses of a future vision of the institution that, even in the terrible circumstances that it has to live today, must serve as a guide for those who are elected as its authorities. And it is that the search for excellence, inspiration of its academic mission, rests, among other things, on a more rational use of its resources, which will help to face the current limitations.
Diversity and flexibility in their study plans
In the future, the UCV will offer a greater variety of careers and certificates/degrees, thanks to greater flexibility in its curricular programs and the certification of intermediate exits where feasible. It will allow the student to tailor their career to the extent of their expectations and the skills they aspire to acquire, complying with a solid basic core training, depending on their career, complemented with options that will enrich their professional and cultural training, such as that of a Venezuelan citizen and of the world. The undergraduate course will be completed, with few exceptions, in four years, transferring subjects of greater specialization and theoretical depth to the fourth level. Reducing this “curricular luxuriance” will contribute to a better average training of undergraduate students, by focusing their attention on the basic, core aspects of the career. The most advantaged may continue in postgraduate training more specialized and / or greater theoretical depth.
Various modalities of study will be offered – face-to-face, blended, distance, promoting inter, trans and multidisciplinarity of teaching. Where feasible, it will be combined with applied subjects –“field”– or internships, for the acquisition of experiences and learning in the solution of real problems. Thus, the student will have the opportunity to share with students from other disciplines and become familiar with the particularities of the social, cultural and environmental environment in which they will develop their work activities, which should broaden their perspective as a future professional.
Curricular flexibility will also lead to expanding and deepening equivalency and double degree agreements with multiple prestigious universities, both national and foreign, allowing students to study stages of their career in these institutions and obtain the corresponding degree after meeting the required requirements. , similar to the program Erasmus in the EU. This integration will also have to be extended to specialization, master’s and doctorate courses, in collaboration with other universities, in order to access a critical mass of high-level academics that could hardly be concentrated in just one. Versatile exchange agreements will improve the quality and prestige of the fourth level of the UCV, allowing it to position itself competitively, also, in the provision of high-quality refresher courses, in a wide range of knowledge areas.
A simpler and more consistent academic structure
The exclusive usufruct of buildings, laboratories, classrooms, and administrative resources by schools and faculties, will give way to their sharing by Knowledge Areasalready one departmentalization growing number of teachers It will facilitate greater rationality and mobility of resources of all kinds, for the sake of efficiency, effectiveness and synergy in its application. It will favor the consistency and coverage of the teaching-learning processes, being able to attend, even, enrollment increases. The Departments, grouped by thematic areas, will assume the management of the teaching career, coordinating their assignment between schools according to the demands of each period. They will be spaces for the formulation, coordination and development of research projects. Schools will thus be able to focus their attention on the permanent adaptation of their respective resume, including greater integration with other disciplines and with postgraduate studies, as well as its projection towards the community, getting rid of cumbersome administrative processes. It will also facilitate greater student and teacher mobility.
The production and management of knowledge
The biggest “redification” (network) of research will be enhanced by a rich interaction with users or external applicants for knowledge, as well as with other research centers in the country or abroad. The production of knowledge will be the result of the exchange of knowledge in multiple directions, in which the actors external to the university will contribute criteria, experiences and/or their own research, to enrich and/or complement the work of the intramural teams. The dynamic thus generated will be a source of innovations that respond directly to the expectations and requirements of the actors involved, both internal and external. It will strengthen the capacity to provide solutions to different actors in society –companies, local governments, social organizations, State institutions, communities–, expanding the sources of financing for the UCV, in order to safeguard insufficient budget allocations by the State. A interface office with society, agile and effective in detecting opportunities for the provision of solutions to particular problems based on the skills in various fields and/or specific projects, offered by the UCV, will have qualified legal advice that protects intellectual property of the institution and of the professor(s) involved, and ensure the best contractual conditions for the provision of these services. This office will free the researcher from having to set aside time for activities of a commercial nature that are not his specialty and for which he is usually not well prepared, taking away his dedication to his academic work.
A sustainable mission, in tune with the 21st century
Discussions regarding the UCV Strategic Plan offer many more elements to adapt the institution to the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century. Among other things, the full automation of administrative processes must be implemented to expedite the hiring and promotions of professors and employees (and their timely payment), student registration, purchases, etc., reserving the University Council (CU) its role central role as academic policy maker. could help with a consultive advice, made up of former rectors and qualified external representatives, who will provide analysis perspectives on particular trends in the country and the world as an input for the optimization of such academic policies. There will be no administrative vice-rector. A qualified professional, with extensive experience, hired by competition as General Manager of the institution, will render periodic accounts to the CU, being removable only with the qualified vote of this body. It will allow having administrative policies of greater permanence to strengthen the academic activities of the UCV.
These and other transformations will constitute a central exercise of the autonomous powers that the university must enjoy. Without autonomy, the institution is degraded, subjecting it to bastard political interests and undermining the necessary academic freedom as the foundation of its mission. In this order, it is necessary that the discussions of a Strategic Plan for the institution contribute to the formulation of a proposal for a Law on Universities that responds to the challenges and opportunities of Venezuela today and puts higher education institutions in tune with the demands in the advancement of the frontier of knowledge, also providing them with solid bases for their financing.
Having said the above, and ignoring other considerations that would excessively lengthen this writing, I wish to express my support for the candidacy of my namesake, Professor Humberto Rojas of the Faculty of Sciences, for rector of the UCV. I am friends with other of the candidates in the running and I have no reason to deny their respective attributes to assume the position. But I find in Professor Rojas a robust and solid career as a researcher and teacher, and rich experience in assuming academic-administrative responsibilities, as well as in defending faculty, which attest to his abilities and commitment to the best interests of the institution. and country. I believe that it will have to show the ability to firmly make the decisions that our beloved Alma Mater will require to overcome these difficult moments, realistically and with a sense of what is possible.