BY ISN STAFF | January 18, 2019
The Jesuit University of Central America Nicaragua (UCA) received dire news earlier this month when the Nicaraguan Technical Secretariat of the National Council of Universities (CNU in Spanish), the government office responsible for distributing funding to the country’s universities, announced it would reduce the UCA’s disbursement by more than 25%. The funding, which is constitutionally-mandated, was reduced for all other universities at amounts no greater than 2%. The UCA detailed the contrasting disbursements in a report posted on the university website on January 9, 2019, identifying the exact amounts that each university entitled to federal funding will receive.
A university statement sharing the news of the reduction of funding noted that the reduced disbursement will “significantly limit” the scope of the university to fulfill its mission of teaching, research, and social projection. The statement also noted that the cuts will be a “serious blow” to the university’s ability to serve students from vulnerable backgrounds, including those in grave economic need and from remote rural regions.
“The UCA will not stop supporting these more than 2,000 students who have the right to graduate here at the university because they started their studies,” said Fr. José Alberto Idiáquez, S.J., president of the UCA, in a recent interview with Canal del Orgullo Nicaragüense.
The UCA has demanded that the CNU review the disbursement and equally distribute the reductions to each of the universities, rather than minimal reductions to all universities except for the UCA.
Since the socio-political crisis began in Nicaragua in mid-April 2018, the UCA has played a pivotal role defending human rights, particularly supporting young people seeking to call attention to the unjust policies and anti-human rights tactics implemented by President Daniel Ortega and his administration. In addition, Fr. Idiáquez has been a key leader in the effort to call for national dialogue to resolve the political challenges and work toward peace.
“The application of a budgetary reduction by the Ortega administration based on political criteria is not only unconstitutional,” said Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, “but stands to cause irreparable harm to Nicaragua’s future by limiting the UCA’s capacity to educate young men and women and serve as a place of critical thinking, discovery of truth, and freedom of expression in Nicaraguan society.”
The Jesuits of Central America responded to the announcement with a statement of support for the UCA. Noting that the university has been receiving constitutionally-guaranteed funding at pre-2019 levels since 1990, the Jesuits affirmed the UCA’s commitment to fulfilling its mission of “servicing faith and promoting justice” through creative research, quality teaching and ethical and communal social outreach. The full statement, originally published on the Association of Jesuit Universities of Latin America on January 9 in Spanish can be found below in English.