New budget for the University of Puerto Rico: the beginning of the end?

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The budget submitted on May 31, 2017 by Governor Ricardo Rosselló took the system of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) unprepared. Despite agreements between the administration and the current governor of a first cut of about 150 million dollars, Rosselló will submit to the UPR a cut of 208 million dollars. Although the difference is about 58 million, the governor had been asked to make a low cut so that the university could absorb the impact because there will be increases in cuts in the next few years.

The UPR last fiscal year 2016-2017 received by the state government about 872 million dollars for special assignments and another 28 million special funds. For this fiscal year 2017-2018 the university will only receive 669.7 million dollars for special assignments and 22.7 million special funds. This means that the UPR will stop receiving 208.3 million dollars from the state government making the total budget for this year only 1.2 trillion dollars of the 1.4 that received last year.

This reduction is reflected in the $ 23 million less that Rio Piedras campus will receive, 24 million less in operating expenses for the entire system, 24 million less in administration, 9 million less in permanent improvements to the precincts, among others. The university will receive $ 21,862 per student leaving a gap of $ 2,372 compared to last year. The goal of the Fiscal Control Board is to achieve a cut of 450 million dollars which means that the university would only receive about 16,489 dollars per student. With the current cut to the system, the university is 241 million dollars away to achieve the objective of the board.

It is time for the university to begin using creative ways to raise funds because it is not known how much can be endured. We do not know how much will be the increase in the cut for the next fiscal year but if the UPR does not adapt could cease to exist. The students have been submitting proposals to cover the gap of 450 million that the Board wants to do, their efforts are more directed to attracting external funds and not to the generation of them. So that the university as we know does not disappear, it is important to take a step to the economic autonomy of the system. The reality is that the cuts did not wait longer but, do they bring the end of the University of Puerto Rico?

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