Yesterday, the Senate passed a law prohibiting university entrance exams and implementing measures that will ensure that all public universities remain free of charge and fees for the foreseeable future.
The proposal was drawn up by Victory Front (FpV) Deputy Adriana Puiggrós some years ago and was semi-sanctioned in 2013. It serves as the latest amendment to the Higher Education Law (clause no. 24.521, for those interested in the specifics) and was passed with support from the Radicals (UCR), the Victory Front (FpV) and the Progressives but voted against by the Republican Proposal Party (PRO).
Puiggrós explained that her aim was to break down those restrictive barriers that students face upon entering university, pointing to “elimination exams” and “other means of exclusion” as examples.
Until now, many have believed the selective procedures and financial demands that fall within the university sphere to be extremely discriminatory.
Take the entrance exam for example. More privileged students are often presented, by their high schools, with the opportunity to do drill after drill, mock after mock, in preparation for the fated university entrance exam. Those from lower income backgrounds, however, are not always so lucky. This, inevitably, gives higher income kids a better shot at getting into their university of choice.
Economically speaking, it is a simple question of being able to afford fees or not. Enough said.
But not everyone is in favor of the new legislation, arguing that it interferes with the autonomy of any given university.
“Every university has its own ways of guaranteeing inclusion,” stated Mónica Marquina, a political specialist at the National University of General Sarmiento. “Every university has its own ‘creative and different way’ of welcoming a wide diversity of students,” she went on. The new law, she argues, “debunks this diversity.”
Marcelo Rabossi, researcher at the University Torcuato Di Tella also pointed out that, “Unrestricted university entrance may seem like an egalitarian system, but it isn’t really. University students who come from the poorest sectors are twice as likely as those from the richest sectors to abandon their studies before they graduate.”
Nevertheless, it’s official: Congress has passed the law and there will be no more entrance exams to public universities and no student will have to pay a dime for his or her degree from a public institution.