If you want to study abroad, CADIVI gets to pick your major

Think they teach "Economía Social" here?

CADIVI (the currency controls administration body) has been subsidizing the travel plans of Venezuelans since its creation more than nine years ago. With no end in sight to its “political” job, the agency keeps finding new ways to make miserable, if not impossible, the task of obtaining currency for those who really need it. One of its favourite targets: university students abroad.

From now on, CADIVI will give priority to students in eight broad “knowledge areas”: architecture & engineering, basic sciences, agriculture & fisheries, health, education, sports, social sciences and the humanities. The full list is available in a newly published regulation, but if you’ve always dreamed of Studying Journalism at Columbia, or Philosophy at Heidelberg, or Political Science at Yale…you’re screwed.

Any possible doubts or questions related to this new set of rules will be eventually resolved by the University Education Minister. Meanwhile for those in elementary or secondary education overseas: you’re no longer a priority for CADIVI.

The irony is that CADIVI hasn’t stopped the capital flight from Venezuela at all: quite the opposite. No wonder, foreign companies like Mattel keep throwing the towel on us.

49 thoughts on “If you want to study abroad, CADIVI gets to pick your major

  1. It appears that with each generation there are less options.The Fullbright might be the only option left for many.

    Resolution 3147 on April 17 establishes areas of study that will qualify, yet isn’t the right to study a Universal right?

  2. I think this is a bit of an hyperbole:

    1) It wouldn’t be logical to make an across-the-board subsidy, given that many careers already have capable and well-prepared staff in Venezuela.
    2) Every government sets a number of priorities; and we often complain that this one, in particular, never seems to have them straight. Let’s take these at face-value.
    3) The studies abroad subsidy was a middle-to-upper-class subsidy, which wasn’t only politically unwise, but also socially silly. It became an invitation to a bran drain, and a cost for some of the non-subsidised universities in Venezuela.

    Alas, we enjoy the distortions of a subsidised dollar, without facing the fact that fostering such subsidies further diminishes the value of our currency.

    That being said, I understand the safety and academic concerns of parents who feel that sending their children to fifth-tier Universities abroad, and the excitement of young minds vying to live abroad. I fully understand it.

    • I agree with you that this subsidy was an invitation to a brain drain and that it was not logical to have an across the board subsidy. However, the issue I see is not only the elimination of the subsidy, but the closening of the only legal channel for a student abroad to receive money from Venezuela. There is no legal channel to do so and now everyone who has already invested money abroad or was planning to do so needs to go the black market. This makes everyone studying abroad that does not fit into CADIVI’s list a criminal since by exchanging venezuelan currency in the balck market they would be breaking Venezuelan’s law.

    • I agree with Pope. More than reducing an obvious subsidy like Cadivi, this is simply denying Venezuelans the opportunity from studying abroad legally. Therefore, any who is studying abroad will have a rabo de paja,

      Also, I find very distasteful to imply that Venezuelans who study abroad do so in crap universities.

        • Indeed very distasteful. How is that everyone goes to a fifth-tier university? This implies that everyone going abroad to study simply didn’t make it at home. Tell that to the graduates students abroad that come from UCV and USB.

          • We’re talking of thousands of Venezuelan students. Not all of them will go to top-tier schools. It is, for many, just a way for their parents to have them safe.

            I see many foreign-diploma graduates coming back, and in many cases their titles are from said universities: it is what the subsidy allows many parents to afford.

            As for the only way to study abroad, it is a issue. But the real issue is how messed up is our monetary system. That’s the issue.

  3. I have a silly question: what happens if someone wants to study abroad anyway? Where can he/she get the dollars/euros/pesos for that if he/she has enough Bolivares? Does he/she go to Italcambio?

    • Kepler,

      Oh, man… You really need to come back here and live here for awhile. Do you really think Italcambio sells dollars at the official rate? Or at any rate at all? If you have the Bolivares and want Dollars, you are forced to deal with the black market.

    • And can we trust the government to make proper decisions about who can study what? This only spells a nightmare.Under a system like Chavismo the less the government decides for us, the better off we are.

      • Agreed. But we cannot have it both ways: “please subsidise me and don’t interfere”. If you like government’s moolah, you’ve gotta pay. And we, as a society, love that.

  4. If you accept that CADIVI dollars represent a government subsidy, instead of a public right, then I don’t necessarily disagree with the government placing limitations on which fields of study they will subsidize. If I organized and funded a private scholarship fund, it would be my right to dedicate those scholarships to only fields of study that I wanted to promote.

    As a tax payer, I would not want to subsidize a student to, say, study Oriental Mating Rituals in Bangkok. If the government chooses to subsidize higher education, it should limit the fields of study to those that it determines to be of strategic (there is that word again) interest to the country. Mind you, my comment does not reflect upon this government’s choices of priorities. I would certainly value Journalism and Philosophy over Sports and Humanities, if I were to be asked.

    Now if you assume that CADIVI dollars are a public right, well then, you just haven’t been living in Venezuela for a very long time.

    • I don’t think it’s a right; I am asking: what legal channels does someone have to buy non-subsidized dollars in Venezuela, at market price?

      • There are no practical legal channels left. Everyone changing money at market prices are criminals. Which, of course, makes nearly everyone a criminal, just the way the government wants it.

        • That was my point. I have nothing with stopping subsidies for studies abroad or for travels or for anything but the problem is this: if that goes, they will next time say you can’t get Cadivi dollars for tourism unless you go to, say, Cuba.
          And there is no other way. So?

      • That’s the point. If Cadivi were only a way of getting cheaper dollars from a legal parallel market as a form of subsidy to higher education abroad, it would be legal for the government to establish conditions, as they are not obliged to subsidize everything. But the thing is that, if you want to study abroad in one of the areas not covered by Cadivi you have to get your dollars through the black market which is a crime under the Ley de Ilícitos Cambiarios.
        There is no legal way for people who has the bolivares to study abroad to change that money into dollars (even unsubsidized ones) so basically there is no legal way of financing yourself an education oversees without breaking the law.

    • Agree with you Roy, however Kepler’s question goes unaswered and that is the real problem that is going to affect those who are living abroad already or where planning to do so. Is not only about the removal of a subsidy, but also about the closening of the only legal channel for these students to receive money.

  5. La resolución 3147 del 17 de Abril, establece áreas de estudio prioritario para la educación universitaria de pre y postgrado en el extranjero y la asignación de divisas. Entre las áreas EXCLUIDAS tenemos: Derechos Humanos, Derecho Internacional, Economía, Contabilidad, Psicología, Sociología, Arqueología, Comunicación Social, Medicina (Urología, Neurología, etc), Ninguna política educativa de un Gobierno debe ser EXCLUYENTE.

    • You are wrong. In the context of a State-sponsored scholarship, they should only be given in the areas of knowledge that a country needs to develop.

      That was just one mistake of Mariscal de Ayacucho scholarships, either because the State paid studies of Space Aeronautics or Nuclear Physics, for instance, or no prior guarantee was established for the student to have priority in the labor market when returning; in both cases the situation was that the grant was used as a springboard to emigrate from Venezuela. After Viernes Negro letters of intent had to be signed to guarantee the return of investment if the student decided not to return.

      The case is completely different in the context of using your own money to pay for your studies, which is what concerns now. There you’re supposed to be free to choose what you want to do, but that itself is where exclusion is occurring because convertibility of currency, which should be free, is being restricted by rules even more anachronistic than ever before in order to save foreign currency to the national treasury.

  6. Guys, we all know what this is about. Chavez is scrapping the pot. He wants to make sure he has enough money to spend before the October elections. So they want to cut Cadivi spending on education to give it to, say, food/beauty product imports, as Bocaranda said this morning. They now can incur in unlimited debt, they will probably be launching new missions, they increased the minimum wage by 30%(which is huge and unreasonable). They are spending little to no money in infrastructure/electricity. Their goal is to spend as much as they can and keep people under the delusion that the country is in good shape until October. Nothing else matters. I can already see it: 2013 may be one of the worst years in recent history..

  7. Yes, I understand that Cadivi is a government subsidy, as a Venezuelan studying abroad, I am aware that I am benefiting from something that shouldn’t even exist in the first place. However, I cannot help but be annoyed by the fact that, while access to foreign currency for education is being restricted, nothing is being done to make the process more transparent or to fight the corruption and profiteering that goes on with Cadivi. And I wonder what fraction of total of Cadivi allocations go to education, anyways.

    Additionally, how were these areas and majors selected? Was there any sort of decent evidence-based study here? (e.g. “it is estimated that the growth of [economic area] will result in an increased demand of [number] of [type of professional]“). But, oh, yeah, right. I just remembered this is the Chávez government we are talking about. So most likely there was some political manipulation going on. Why allow journalists, lawyers and economists to get trained in the capitalist world? That’s not in the best interests of the Revolution!

    The other thing that I am worried about is about how the list is going to end up being interpreted. The distinction of whether a program falls into one of the names of the list is often not clear cut, and I really wouldn’t count on the funcionario in charge of your ‘carpeta de Cadivi’ to be that acquainted with the concept of interdisciplinarity, honestly.

    • This was decided upon el plan estrategico de la nacion(whatever that means). I remember attending model UN’s had support from CADIVI, now they don’t. MUN’s were supposed to be supported by LOCTI until one day they changed their minds.

      “Yes, I understand that Cadivi is a government subsidy, as a Venezuelan studying abroad, I am aware that I am benefiting from something that shouldn’t even exist in the first place.”

      Well said! however, you are abiding by Chavista law. Actually, this is supposed to be the only way students can study abroad, as buying dollars in the black market is illegal. It sucks that studying abroad is almost as expensive as living in Venezuela and that only the middle class is benefiting from this. However, this derives from a pointless “temporary” measure adopted more than 9 years ago to avoid capitals from fleeing our country. It’s Chavistas fault!

  8. The subsidy is really only through the rate of exchange of the government established/controlled parallel dollar. It is still your money that you’re putting up to pay for this. They are restricting your choice with your money. Insolito! Only in Venezuela.

    • Finally someone calling it like it is! While I understand students benefit from something that shouldn’t even exist in the first place like some readers point out, everyone needs to step back and remember THIS IS CRAZY! It’s your money! It is not the students fault that the rules are what they are (however inconvenient for all Venezuelans!) This is what happens when you get used to “bad” been “normal”. A very dangerous shift in mentality.

    • As I was going through the comments I was thinking “but this is NOT a subsidy, it’s a foreign exchange control”.
      Am I missing something?
      That control should not exist in first place, and students should be free to study wherever and however they want, like “Oriental Mating Rituals in Bangkok” (Roy), it’s their money after all.

      • Carolina,

        “As I was going through the comments I was thinking “but this is NOT a subsidy, it’s a foreign exchange control” ”


      • It’s both. It’s a subsidy and a currency exchange control.

        It’s as though the government determined that you were ONLY allowed to buy beers at $0.10 a bottle, that you needed to get an administrative permit to buy a beer from CABIRRI, that you are only allowed to buy the brands they approve, and that you can be punished with years in jail if you pay someone 11 cents for a beer outside the official system.


        • I agree, and I think that its not uncommon or illegal that the government imposes conditions for a subsidy that is not obliged to give (there is not a right to study abroad). The issue is that they make illegal for anyone to pay for their education abroad even with unsubsidized dollars and that’s whats makes the whole regime unconstitutional in my opinion.

  9. Maybe aducational subsidies should be diiscrtiminating.

    “Oh, I want to be an expert in pre-Roman knitting techniques!”

    • Fine, but at least allow those who want to study those fine knitting techniques to pay for it themselves.

  10. The whole point is that CADIVI should not exist and people should be free to send their kids wherever they want and kids should be free to study whatever they want as well.

    On the other hand, if the goverment wants to set priorities into the areas that are most needed for the country, how about taking some of the money that is wasted on Cuba and Cuba trips and use it for tailor-made grants to Venezuelan University groups to form graduate students in those areas. Or create specialized scholarships?

    The idea of prioritized areas is not a bad one, what is wrong is CADIVI.

    • Somebody called her the “canadian Sarah Palin”. LOL.
      We’ll see how it goes on Monday. Conservatives have been in power for 40 years and people are looking for a change, but they are not willing to vote liberal either, that’s why Wildrose is ahead I suppose.

  11. What happens to those students who are a year or two from graduating with non-approved majors? Will they be allowed to finish with CADIVI dollars? Should they change their majors? What will stop the government from prioritizing a whole new set of studies next year, or the year after, or…?

  12. Venezuelans are free to send their kids to study wherever they want. Just because you will not be able to get Cadivi dollars to do a PhD in French Revolutionary History does not mean that you cannot study it. You have to buy dollars at the free market rate which is set by who……Econoinvest and hones people like that when it existed. Or the Casas del Cambio. By devaluing the bolivar they effectively made it difficult for the middle class kids to study abroad and now with the nee regulations it will be even more so.

    In my view it is a responsibility of the government to decide what courses are in the counry’s interest (studying journalism is cetrainly not one of them) and if CADIVI dolalrs are granted to a student then he or she should be obliged to work in Venezuela for a few years to contrinute something to society. If you do not want to do that then buy your dollars on the open market. Open up a bank account in Panama using Banesco and you get get all the dollars you want at the free market rate.

  13. 1) You are right, there should be priorities, and subsidies should not be across the aboard.
    2) There is no LEGAL OPEN MARKET. There is NO OPEN MARKET. There is an ILEGAL market, full of shark traders, where the price will go due to the surge in demand from desperate students and parents, which will make their situation even worse.

  14. Well actually you also have the SITME, but in order to access those dollars you need to have CADIVI so fuck it. I agree, CADIVI is a subsidize. I am a master student in Sweden and I confess that I am living the great life here because CADIVI dollars are just cheap. But, legally IS NOT a subsidize, even if it works like that, it is not, and it was not its original intention. So, the government should come clean and change this CADIVI shenanigan (because we know that they are not going to get rid of it) or offer a legal way of getting dollars without subsidizing it… But well, I am asking for an utopia here

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