SANTIAGO – Starting next year, the commune of Recoleta will open an initiative called Open University. At the institution, everyone can follow courses in different areas for free. Mayor Daniel Jadue said the university has the goal of “democratizing knowledge”.
A university where you don’t pay tuition, where academics teach for free courses, workshops and seminars, and where people from all ages and backgrounds are welcome. Sounds idealistic? Not for the Santiago commune of Recoleta.
People from all ages, from Recoleta and other communes or cities, can follow courses for free at the Open University. They won’t receive a degree, but will be able to extend their knowledge for free. Chileans who never finished high school, can finish their secondary education for free at the Open University.
The idea is to offer courses at the start of the new academic year in Chile, in March 2019. Academics from all universities are expected to participate in the initiative, where they can offer anything from workshops to seminars and lectures.
Critics from the Ministry of Education
Although the general response on the initiative has been positive, the Ministry of Education (Mineduc) criticized the project, and in particular the name it is bearing. “The Open University should not bear the name of a university, since it does not meet the minimum requirements”, Higher Education director Juan Eduardo Vargas told online news portal Emol.
“The plan only generates confusion among the students and the rest of the educational community. Clarity and transparency are necessary if we want to have a higher education system that is beneficial for the students of our country”, he added.
The ministry’s biggest concern is that in the creation of workshops and courses official standards haven´t been taken into consideration.
Although the Open University doesn’t award full courses with degrees, the ministry seems mostly bothered with the fact it was not involved in the creation of the institution.
Countering the criticism, Recoleta mayor Daniel Jadue said he expected the ministry´s response. “They have a problem with us democratizing knowledge”.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.