I’m a professor at the UCV’s Maracay Campus and can attest to at least some advances in the quality of the teaching staff. It’s now very hard for a person without graduate studies to enter a concurso (a public contest to secure a professorship). If one is not up to date with promotions the committee will not approve a cent for any project.
Unfortunately the miserable salaries, the almost non-existent research funding for projects not in line with the revolution, the failing infrastructure and the regime’s overall financial choke-hold make our autonomous public universities very bleak places to work.
Sure the students can be joy but even here the standards become progressively worse and the more recent freshmen seem to think they are still in high school and are quite content if they pass with the minimum grade. I have seen students take the same subjects three or more times. We joke they will eventually qualify for a retirement pension from UCV.
Any measures that try to address such vices even in the most timid way are instantly denounced as “repressive” or whatever.The number of students in some graduate programs has fallen dramatically, many simply attend because they need the degree to get a promotion at work. They seem to have no real fire to ask questions and do research.
Many concursos now wind up empty, especially if it is for dedicacion exclusiva - a full time teaching post. A good number of professors, even well established ones who own their own flat, are leaving. Graduate programs are increasingly relying on emeritus staff or shutting down courses.
Administrative responsibilities for professors just add to the frustration as they force one to do what the secretaries, fleet services, purchase dept, and other things should do. When one take the head of a department, it’s vox populi that you just becomes the conserje. Research and teaching fade away.
The trade unions, not the human resources department, decide who gets hired for non-academic posts. It’s quite a racket. Fleet services and the cafeteria are black holes of graft. Spare parts, new tyres, and food just vanish. Clothing will be stuffed into drains to disrupt activities. They recently unilaterally shaved 1h from their daily work schedules. It’s easier to fire a professor than a worker. They are the most powerful force in the university. Trying to address any of these vices causes instant strikes and rows over “repression”.
For several years now any formal complaint lodged by the university before the local Labour Ministry office is simply shoved into some cabinet and forgotten. Impunity is 100%. Outsourcing gardening, fleet services, cafeterias, and general cleaning would be way cheaper for the UCV, but it would cause instant strife that would paralyse the institution. In the present political scenario, it’s unthinkable.
None of us ever thought about taking on a private pension fund as one retires with 100% salary and has the benefit of subsequent raises. But currentprospects make even this doubtful. I estimate having to rent out a room in my flat to make ends meet as a pensioner. In fact, I’m looking at editales for concursos in Brazil…and some of them look real good. Paperwork sucks. There is so much good work to be done here, so much to discover, but things seem to get more and more uphill as time goes by.
Notwithstanding all these gripes, the UCV still manages to deliver a decent education! Que maravilla. What a pity.