UBA took a blow last week when Times’ Higher Education released Latin American Universities’ ranking. Turns out, 81 Latin-American education facilities made the list, and Universidad de Buenos Aires wasn’t one of them. Though a later report indicated that the universities involved in the ranking had to provide statistics themselves and actively participate in order to be included in the ranking — a move the UBA system appears to have not undertaken.
Statistics the Universidad de Buenos Aires did decide to share with the public though shows that our under-ranked national treasure has achieved a pretty impressive feat — measurable inclusion of underprivileged students into the higher education system. UBA’s student body leads the country on many metrics concerning social intergration.
According to the numbers extracted from previous censi undergone by the university, 46 percent of students’ fathers and 53 percent of mothers don’t have college degrees. Making them the first generation in their family to acquire post high school education. 15 years earlier, these numbers represented 44 percent and 42 percent respectively.
The fact that this number is increasing is seen as being good news by many advocates. According to an analysis of INDEC’s income numbers done by La Nación, having approximately 13 years or more of education (which includes university) can up to double your salary. The study, published on 2015, is the most recent work comparing salaries in Argentina of people with differing levels of education.
The study reads, “In Argentina, a person who has been studying for over thirteen years makes, on average, 1.97 times more per hour than someone…who participated less than nine years in the educational system”.
Financial prospects will significantly increase if these students can finish their college degrees. Yet while UBA has managed to democratize the incoming student body to a large extent, the demographic spread of the students who graduate class isn’t as economically diverse.
Claudia Romero is the director of Education at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella. Romero explained that “belonging to the richest 20 percent of the population increases your chances of attending college five times fold and it doubles your chances of graduating”.
Currently, the need to increase grants, tutors, and academic support is clear. But funding for UBA’s basic programs is already an uphill, and at times losing, battle — with stagnant and insufficient wages for professors, aging infrastructure and cuts to grants and scholarships making up the almost constant rallying call of advocates for the last 20 years.
Keeping up with the regional Jones’ when it comes to education is important, but at current rates of investment, UBA doesn’t seem fully equipped to maintain its historic place as one of the most prestigious sites of higher education in the region.
The conversation may need to center back around UBA’s need to compete with its former-self more than striving to out perform universities in Brazil and Chile.