Germany likes its college professors, Venezuela not so much

The German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe.

A chemistry professor of the University of Marburg, a small german city, thought that his salary of 3.890 euros per month was too low. He went to the Federal Constitutional Court to claim that university professors’ wages are not worth of their efforts. The German Association of Professors (DHV) backed him.

The court not only agreed with him, but ruled the current pay scale for all college professors violates the German Consititution. In a landmark ruling (sorry, it’s in German), the Court recognizes that college professors are civil servants and therefore, mandates their employers:

“…to pay alimony and appropriate his seniority, according to the responsibility associated with his office and the meaning of the Civil Service to the community accordance with the development of general economic and financial conditions and overall standards of living reasonable living expenses grant.”

Beyond the legalese, one particular part of the decision defends the role of the college professor, because of “…the reputation of the office in the Eyes of society, the training required by the incumbent and his duty…”.

Even if opinions are split in Germany, the ruling sets a precedent can help college professors worldwide.

In Venezuela, where professors are fighting not just for to improve their joke salaries, but struggling mightily to keep our universities from collapsing altogether. The Ministry’s response is to ignore and/or delay their petitions, but only if the current minister is not attacking them for not helping the “process”.

But then, no somos alemanes.

76 thoughts on “Germany likes its college professors, Venezuela not so much

  1. I think Venezuelan professors need to expose their case differently. Here it goes: they say they don’t get enough money. The regime says they get 80% (or whatever it is) of the education budget, which is 10% (or whatever) of the national budget and they don’t care about teachers.
    Professors until now have just continued to say they can’t live with what they have, which is true, but not enough. If they were wise, they should finally bring the whole picture. Because they don’t do it but prefer to fight for themselves alone and school teachers do it for their stuff, the government plays them against each other all the time.

    First of all:
    A kindergarten teacher in Germany is able to pay for a rent in a flat in Berlin or Munich, to pay for a car, for food for a small family without extra income, etc. A university professor more so. We can have a discussion about whether they are badly paid or not, but at least it is not that they cannot survive.

    Now take Hanson, our sleeping beauty. There is a youtube where she says that teachers (TEACHERS) cannot expect to become rich, that they need some “vocación”…and she talks about their salaries…which on the longer term do not watch up with inflation.
    Anyway: a Venezuelan teacher cannot rent a flat in Caracas or Valencia, much less also pay for food for two children and some other stuff. A Venezuelan teacher – and also a professor- cannot live unless his/her partner provides for a flat, a house or she/he/it lives with her/his/its grandmother.

    And there you should start the discussion. Else, we are going in circles. Bring in the whole picture to prevent the government from bringing in stupid arguments about you being a privileged and not caring for the primary school teachers, who are mad at you because you only talk about yourself.


  2. I’m sure the Constitutional Hall of the TSJ wil rule in a Capriles administration that Venezuelans have a right to cheap gasoline, that the salaries of all public workers should go up by 100% every year, that military salaries should go up by 300%, etc. I mean, when unelected judges start setting the salaries of the nation, that’s when we know we’ve reached development.


    • I tell you: we need to carry this discussion not with the government but with the general public and to do so we need to include the whole picture of everyone working in public education (as school teachers are much more numerous than professors). It is a matter of management our debate. It is not about whether the current government does anything but about how we can use this to bring about regime change.


    • I agree with the maracucho reactionary for once. It’s a matter of process. If this isn’t judicial overreach I don’t know what is.


      • The German Constitutional Court is, I think, the most powerful Constitutional Court in the world and they get away with a lot and this is maybe too much. Although thinking about the jalabolas of the Constitutional Chamber and the last decisions of the Corte Suprema regarding the Constituent Assembly in 1999 makes extremely difficult for me criticizing a Court that has some balls.


        • These guys are PUBLIC employees. In Germany universities get most of their money, by far, from the state. Regulations are different. They don’t mess at all with private universities for salaries.


    • From Spiegel International:
      “The Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe stated that 2005 reforms to professor pay implemented across Germany violated the principle of appropriate pay for civil servants. The reforms cut base pay and pegged additional wages to a professor’s performance.”

      It may seem as judicial activism, but it is not. They are just stating that professors are civil servants and should have the same rights. It will have awful consequences, no doubt about it, but it is not a verdict a la Luisa Estela…


      • The German Constitutional Court can be described as activist overreaching, but not deferential, its probably the most powerful Constitutional Court in the world and it was intended to be that way after what happened with the Judiciary in Germany during Hiltler’s government. The bill of rights the of the German Constitution is almost impossible to amend. Its decisions are probably the most discussed and studied in Comparative Constitutional Law, so is the opposite of the TSJ. This was the type of Court we needed in 1999 when the Constituent Assembly and people like Miquelena were pretty much destroying the rule of law in the Country.


  3. Heh.

    I was tweeting/fb-ing about it yesterday, precisely.
    A Venezuelan joke:
    “Mom, I got tenure!”
    “That’s awesome! You’re still gonna be living with me!”

    This is depressing. I earn more doing IT stuff on the side that I would teaching back home. An instructor (the lowest rank of university professor) cannot pay the rent for a 1 bedroom apartment using 100% of her or his salary.

    I knew when I decided to become a scientist that things would be so so in economic terms. I did not care, I love science, I wanna know more, money is secondary. But I never thought my life would be literally miserable. I am very lucky it is not now, but it’d be if I’d be working at ULA (And Mérida is cheap). I am not married, I have no kids or dependants, so things are easier for me. But I would not work for ULA, despite the good benefits. I’d rather go and do research elsewhere, or teach there ad honorem and work with my research group, but with my time free to pursue my other interests (and do what pays my bills). You know things are bad when doing outsourced stuff pays more than being an university professor.


    • Let’s keep this in perspective! For the sake of comparison, the salary of an instructor (lowest academic rank and not tenure track) at the City University of New York is of $41,435 USD per annum. Income taxes in New York, where you have Federal, State, and City taxes, take about 40% of these earnings. Add to that deductions for health insurance, union dues, etc. and this instructor will be lucky to have $20,000 left. Rent in NYC in a less than desirable neighborhood will set you back at least $1400 a month, if not more. So this means that the college instructor has barely $6,000 left for transportation, food, and entertainment. If the college instructor has any outstanding student loans that need to be paid back, he is not going to survive financially So, College instructor is likely to be living with his parents, having to take public transportation because he cannot afford a car and the required insurance.


  4. Personally, I think that this is don’t think that any government should be meddling in the contractual affairs between two private entities (in this case, the university and the professor). If this professor’s time and effort were so much more valuable then he was being compensated for, he had the option to find different employment.

    I don’t know the details of this case, but in general, when the state undertakes to regulate prices or wages, it interferes with the market mechanisms of supply and demand. In this case, by forcing universities to pay higher wages, they will, no doubt force universities to raise tuition. This rise in costs may place a university education out of reach of a significant number of students. The law of unintended consequences is implacable and not subject to the court’s “good intentions”. Instead of creating a net improvement in education, they may be doing the opposite.


  5. I personally like the fact that University professors in Venezuela earn peanuts. Don’t get me wrong, and my apologies to all the public University professors out there for whom this is a serious personal problem, but bear with me: from a public policy point of view, spending public money on higher education when primary schools are crumbling is almost a crime. Furthermore, the Venezuelan model where the State supports all these universities and students don’t pay squat is simply unsustainable.

    The system will make sure the status quo reveals itself for what it is: a utopian fraud. Only then will we be able to move on and have a serious discussion about financing higher education in Venezuela, and finding the right way to subsidize those who can’t pay.


    • That’s an awful way to express the problem. You like that qualified people are earning very little money?

      We can have the education debate without you expressing glee for the misfortune of people that are there obviously not for the money, but because they care.


      • Guido, I am with you in part and with Juan in part. The problem is we are dealing on one side with a reactionary maracucho and on the other with a Molotov-throwing trujillano.

        As long as you are not able to discuss education in general you won’t be able to deal with this issue.
        The system is rotten all the way through. An EU paper (from the commission) does talk about it: Venezuela’s universities get a much higher proportion of the cake than schools.
        On the other side, universities in Venezuela have a huge amount of people
        who are phantom teachers or phantom cleaners and there is a big proportion of the quota going for student places that are given BY LAW to the workers, to the student unions, to professors, etc. This is NOT tenable.
        But it is not tenable that teachers and university personnel earn what they do.


      • Oh Guido, come on, you know what I meant. We have to be able to separate the public from the private. I was being provocative on purpose. I framed my point correctly, I think.


        • Yes, sure. I understand. But Juan, we need Message Discipline. We are in for a campaign, we cannot seem callous, evil,, etc. We are against the Love Candidate (just like Edna von Baer, here in Chile!).

          Consider it a jalada de orejas. I know, you are not a candidate, but a private citizen and blogger. You are talking by yourself, you are not the Speakerperson for Primero Justicia. But we do still need to frame the message in a positive way. We need the votes. Kepler’s framing is much better that yours, even if both are describing the same problem.

          Framing 1: “Little kids get bad education and their teachers earn too little. The education budget is badly distributed.”
          Who can deny that? Who’s gonna oppose better education for small kids?

          Framing 2: “I like that university professors are earning little money…”
          And nobody will let you even to finish your sentence, and Chavistas are gonna grab it and broadcast it 100 times, saying that if you despise the petit bourgeois college professors, who can imagine the hate you harbor for poor mulatos? If I, that I am on your side, and you are my personal friend, can frame it in that way, what can our adversary do?

          We all agree, the way the budget is distributed in Venezuela is nuts. We all agree that the schools need more budget, and the university is too big. I agree that every single Venezuelan should have access to the right of a public education of quality, but no right to remain 20 years in university, paying subsidized transportation and free meals at the Comedor Universitario. I do think that we need more alternatives in vocational training and short tech careers. But showing disregard for such an injustice like this not only does not help to solve the problem, it helps to perpetuate it: “pobrecitos los profesores, esos malvados derechistas…”. Juan, you are contributing straight to that narrative!

          Maybe if we don’t have Alcasas and Russian Weapons we can funnel more money to education (is it enough? I don’t know). Maybe if we reduce salaries to judges or public attorneys, we can give more to Public Schools. Certainly we need to check the requirements to be an university student and tell to people to work hard and get the degree or leave the place to somebody else. It’s not going to be easy, but there is a way.


      • Guido, the problem is that you have in public universities people who are in because they care and people who are in there because they can at least earn a little bit without doing anything, provided they get in.


        • That too. And we need to get rid of that. I could speak for several hours of the nasty stuff I have seen inside the university, how dysfunctional and slow to adapt to change they are. There’s a lot of corruption, a ton of places to cut budget and plenty to fix. University is rotten in many ways.

          But that kind of attitude, while disregarding more deserving targets, it’s not going to be helpful. I can’t believe I’m reading this kind of argument in an electoral year where we need desperately to get votes!


      • I don’t agree with saying that they should earn less. But the fact that, for example, developing a good system of public technical middle education that teachespeople a skill could help more than keep creating expensive Universities, Venezuela has enough (maybe too much) professionals to cover its needs but not enough skilled workers


        • Agree. There’s a cultural stigma against that, on one hand. And on the other, everybody wants a doctor, lawyer or engineer kid.

          I remember that my family was kinda puzzled that I went in biology, as I had grades good enough to enter in engineering.

          We need to change Venezuelan society in more ways than one.


      • You know what happens? As the son of a public university professor who *for years* has been complaining about his low salary and about how this f*ing chavista administration has cut his health benefits and what not, I can see both sides of the coin. Yes, I sympathize with those who, like my father, feel like their work is underappreciated. But people, something has to change! If it takes debasing public universities to the point where they no longer function as institutions, well, so be it.

        Because, let’s face it, the issue of higher education financing is a crucial one, and it ain’t gonna change if we coddle our universities like we did in the 60s and 70s.


        • Juan,
          I am such a son as well. I understand something has to change but unless there is a complete discussion and all the budget issues are made public for everyone to see and compare with the rest of the world, what we will get is a bunch of professors and students burning cars and saying “con las universidades no te metas”.


        • That’s something you just cannot do, Maybe if you are Pérez Jimenez you can.

          But here you just cannot show up with a stick and no carrot, while bigger corruption cesspools are overlooked. If after fixing judicial system, notaries and public companies in a merciless way you turn to universities, people might believe you, otherwise, forget it.

          Until not so recently getting a professional degree was the way out of middle class for lots of people, it is still that symbol, even if the pay for a professor is barely enough to eat and share a flat with 2 more people. That’s better than a rancho, for sure. We are not all entrepreneurs, it is hard to launch you own business, and lots of people are really smart and hard working, but they are not entrepreneurs. If they come from poor families, the university is the way out of poverty. Or at least the hope you can get out if you are a good student. That is the reason why the university is so, so so popular that people cannot see how the budget allocation is hurting us all and the children specially.

          I am sorry to say this, Juan, but I do not think you can understand the significance of something like that if you don’t come from a poor background where no one of your uncles and aunts went to the university. Even getting accepted to college is a big deal.


    • You got one thing right. It’s mind-boggling that 50% of the education budget is assigned to universities when only a small number of Venezuelans can afford a higher education. I firmly believe that we should invest more money on primary and secondary education.

      However, I think that your Schadenfreud about underpaid professors is short-sighted. Where do you think our primary and secondary teachers get their degrees? At the Universities!

      The poor salaries are killing our universities slowly, and that’s a damage that will not be undone easily. Our higher education system is only getting worser and worser because of the brain drain and demoralization of faculty and staff. At UPEL-Caracas there are no professors to teach high-level calculus. You can kiss good-bye secondary math teachers. Go figure…

      I am on record supporting higher education reform. Not only students, but also faculty and staff should be held accountable somehow. However, you will not get top notch researchers and better education unless you pay for it. If you want world class physicians, engineers and teachers, you better pay professors what they deserve. Otherwise, all you’re gonna get from the universities are “medicos” comunitarios, mediocre engineers (just look at PDVSA nowadays) and math teachers that believe that 7x 7 = 36 (Merentes dixit).

      Full disclosure: I am an underpaid full-time faculty member at UCV (on leave of absence).


    • JC,

      “Llegará un día en que nuestros hijos, llenos de vergüenza, recordarán estos días extraños en los que la honestidad más simple era calificada de coraje.”
      Yevgeni Yevtushenko

      I agree with you for many reasons – from the fact that teaching the young is about building the foundation for critical thinking and the love of learning, so that after that is done people can largely learn on their own.Another factor here is that it takes much more talent to teach the young than to teach older kids….the problem is that most preschool teachers are women and somehow their salaries have never seen as important to most of us. Now the day at least half of them are men, that will all change.

      Also you cannot be talking about raising the salaries in the U Central, when there are
      already beaucoup people collecting a salary without working.First things first.


    • “spending public money on higher education when primary schools are crumbling is almost a crime”

      As opposed to spending on education when people are malnourished? Or, worse, spending money grafted from the malnourished on the education? Grafted @ 100% from the poorest, and 0% from the richest? Ironic that you would present such relativistic argument.


  6. And of course you know the common denominator of ALL Venezuelan problems, right?
    Lack of education.
    Also happens in Africa, Asia, and many other messed-up places.

    Think about it for a second: who needs to commit a crime, if he’s educated and can make an honest living? Who can contribute to the economy if he can add 2+2? Not to mention with a macro-economics degree of sorts? Who is a burden to the nation, when they can’t even spell their last names?

    Who will vote for Chavez? Again. People with lousy education, for the most part.

    That’s why our country is where it’s at, besides the “Devil’s excrement” ingredient.

    A bunch of uneducated people, lazy, and incompetent. Chavistas of sorts.

    Compare that to Costa Rica, Chile, Colombia, or even Brazil. They are doing a LOT better just because they are far better educated and competent in life.


  7. Why don’t people start with a general discussion and make public where all the money is going for each sector? How many teachers we have? How many of them are reposeros?
    Why does the UCV have several times the amount of cleaning ladies for 1000 students than a private university?
    Why do all university students get money for less than what you pay for a box match but school children do not get maths books in Maturín?
    Why does the Centro de Estudiantes and the Union of Cleaners get by law X thousand student places?
    Why can’t a professor and a teacher afford to rent a flat in Caracas and pay for all her food and that of her children?


  8. I agree with Juan, wholeheartedly, in both counts: it would be judicial overreach and a myopic way to address what is a systemic problem.

    I work both in Public and Private University Education, and perhaps -as my bills are paid mostly by my salary at a private institution- my perception might be skewed. But even as a student -when the Proyecto de Ley de Educación Superior was defeated by the left within Congress back in ‘97- I cried out in favour of the new bill (which established greater administrative autonomy for the universities and a differential matriculation scheme, which ultimately defeated it). And I was alone: if you are better off, you cannot morally abide your own subsidy. You’re destroying the very mobility the subsidy was put there for in the first place and, through that, diminishing the notion of both technical education and

    I did, alas, study at UCV, because I could not find a private University in Caracas which offered Political Science (now, you could come to UNIMET). But, lest I kid myself, there was a little matter of tradition: my parents both came from UCV (while, among my grandparents, only one had a University degree), and my great-great-great grandfather was the founder of the Mathematics Department and the Engineering Faculty. But I disliked the “welfare State” mentality of the University: I never asked for a social benefit scholarship (which would have been easily awarded) bur rather worked as a research intern since my second semester; I only went to the subsidised Comedor (which still had the prices from 1958!) four times, and that to talk to a fellow student. I did use the Libraries and went to the Cinema (as a film buff, how could you not?), but I never did use the student’s subsidised transport nor health services. Nor did I make use of a graduate scholarship after my degree… I got those things either from my work or asking my family, and I know thousands of my fellow classmates could’ve done it. I have to judge their choices harshly: how could you spend 600 Bs. on a can of Coke and then only spend 2 Bs. for Lunch? How could you just pay 500 to 900 Bs. every semester, and still complain about it? Some people called me “neoliberal”, which is hilarious…

    The system was tilted in favour of middle-to-high income students: internal testing toppled the CNU test, the expansion of private schooling churned out less and less competitive liceístas… And so the State failed at its perceived aim: it had expanded education, but it failed to sustain it as a route for personal or social progress, except for those with a cultural or economic leg already up. It might be the case that students cannot pay a private university, but do they have the right not to pay a dime? Aren’t they aware of how much their education costs, underpaid and understaffed as it may be? Don’t they realise that, by entering public Universities while having other options they deprive poorer students who fail the academic requirements and yet make it into less demanding and prestigious and yet more expensive places (like technical institutes, or Santa María U).

    Kepler raised a good strategy for the matter: the problem is the system as a whole, and professors should address it as such. Education should have a broader slab on the budget, and most of that should go into primary and secondary levels (and into students and infrastructure, not only for the teachers…). The effects of that will ripple up: less crime, less desertion, and more tertiary education options, both public and private, both academic and technical. The fact that you need a licenciatura (as crappy as it might be) for an entry level job is ridiculous once you’ve improved basic schooling (my maternal grandfather only made it to the 6th grade… And he can read Latin and do basic calculus).

    Not that I’d say that university professors are well paid. On the contrary, they aren’t. Public University infrastructure is crumbling, salaries are low (in both private and public universities, though the gap has widened over the recent years), security is scarce, supplies are non-existent, libraries are depleted and out-of date, and as more and more professors are part-time, university unions are weak. But school teachers have it a whole lot worse, and they don’t have the same status as we do: so much so that they fail to be the mentors and role models that our youth needs… There is a huge scarcity of school teachers, especially in the hard sciences and mathematics. Capriles and Pablo Pérez had it right on that count, and so do the Unidad’s Lineamientos (§§ 810-862).

    Private Tertiary education in some professional and technical areas is cheaper than Public Education, which, trough its bulged up bureaucracy is extraordinarily expensive. Even so, Venezuelans pay less -and are less willing to pay- for their education than in other Latin American countries.

    I admired my teachers and professors, and my parents taught me that you had to give to society as much as you took. Nothing seems to me more egalitarian than that.


            • Qué bolas!
              I do remember when they tried to increase prices around 1995 from 2 Bolivaruchos to 3, I think, and the extreme left (now in power) burnt a couple of cars and a lorry…the bastards.


            • I heard, but I’m not sure if its true, that the system the University employed when they used to charge the two bolos de los viejos, implied printing tickets that were actually worth more than two bs. So they decided to save money by not charging anyone and letting in anyone with an UCV ID. I only ate there once in 5 years.


            • I remember when at the ULA they supposedly wanted to increase the food price from 5 to 15 bolívares. An empanada was around 200 at that time, I think.

              We got some professional rioters in class calling us to go and riot, because the COmedor was going to become private. I told them, in front of my class “The food in Trujillo campus is way better than here, and their service is private”. He only muttered that they were increasing the price to 15. I replied I did not mind as long as the food tastes better.

              They left without a single person joining them. No wonder I never was popular with them…


    • Amen. The ship is sinking and the chavez government is throwing overboard the people who know how to fix the hole, in order to make room for the fat narco-military-incompetent-complex.


    • Aveledo,

      Couldn’t agree with you more. The truth is that universities have to be financially sustainable. I think the state can intervene by subsidizing those in need, but not universally. Like you, I came from a family who was not only able to pay for my education but also willing (as long as good quality was delivered in return). I studied at the USB and I thought it was a crime against the country how some students would fail class after class without caring, ignoring completely how they were wasting the university money resources. Also, the fact that the university doesn’t do anything to make the cost of failing is maddening. Every time I made this numbers public it made everyone feel extremely uncomfortable.

      Like Kepler said implicitly before, universities need to start looking at how much does it cost to graduate a student both on average and understand the distribution, which I assume is skewed and in the case of the UCV, with very long tails. My understanding is that the UNIMET is the most efficient one in this metric and the UCV is the worst in Caracas.

      I think that by default, students should be required to pay the universities. If you don’t want to then you apply for a waiver and that’s it, you don’t have to. But for Christ’s sake, let those who can afford it pay!


      • University employees and most students won’t be eager to do it. Don’t expect them to go against their currently very selfish, Middle Age interests.

        We need public pressure and a public debate led by key figures that manage to embarrass both the government and the university mafias.


    • Well, yes, but…
      Universities se la ponen bajita to government to attack the autonomy. I have been in low level politics inside the university, and I have seen nauseating things. The universities need a lot of self discipline and change before they can take the moral high road.

      But, the worst part is that the people from the left that it-s inside the department and school councils often vote in bloc to favor the corruption.


  9. I lived in venezuela near one of these little gringo settlements that used to be dotted throughout the country in the middle part of the last century. These (now run down) colonial style houses used to be where all the offshore expertise would live while they managed and directed the extraction of venezuelan natural resources. Venezuelans did the grunt work. It was the colonial (or neo-colonial) model. That declined as access to better and higher education improved. Now venezuela exports talent (not necessarily by choice- a lot of the talent is fleeing to escape getting screwed royally-, but whatever).

    Now, if your new government played it right, these foreign companies could help pay for the higher education of venezuelan expertise in venezuela through support and contribution to university education. And you could also eliminate the military, get some transparency over the use of public funds going, and reduce other areas of the bureaucracy (like the part that makes posters of chavez), which would free up a lot of funds to support education on all levels to make venezuela more of a sovereign country over its own resources and talent.


  10. Off Topic AND off the primary theme of this blog:

    But is does relate to education and the core problem with our current democratic models of government. In fact, it explains well how such a person as our current president (Venezuela) came to power.

    The article in the link above is about studies that explain why we fail to recognize and elect the most competent leaders. It is an interesting concept and one worth discussing, if not here, then elsewhere. It plays into one of my pet theories that we need to tweak the democratic model to produce better results. I get lambasted on a regular basis every time I suggest it, but I have a thick skin and I’m used to it.


    • The ‘advantage [of democracies] over dictatorships or other forms of government is merely that they “effectively prevent lower-than-average candidates from becoming leaders.”‘

      Hey, this really was on-topic. ;)

      I also found this article,, linked to in the one you post, quite interesting. Chavez would appear to be a few standard deviations beyond the norm in being “unable to recognize [his] deficiency.”


      • Yeah, i liked that quote too. The graph was interesting in that the most competent people in the study actually underestimated themselves. Chavez certainly doesn’t have THAT problem. “He is legend in his own mind.”


        • “I would say that the surest measure of a man’s or a woman’s maturity is the harmony, style, joy, and dignity he creates in his marriage, and the pleasure and inspiration he provides for his spouse”- by Benjamin Spock.


  11. I am all for the increase of professor’s wages in Venezuela, but there is a difference as to what it means “professor” in Venezuela and in NorthAmerica or in Europe.

    In Venezuela the term “professor” is given to anyone that teaches courses, this here is either a “lecturer”, a teaching assitant or a “chargé de cours”. In Venezuela many professors do not do research, do not ask for grants and do not publish, many do not even have a Ph.D.

    In NorthAmerica and Europe, such situation would be inconceivable. To be an assistant professor you must at least: 1) have a Ph.D. and even a post-doc, 2) have already established a solid publication track record 3) have had some teaching experience 4) be lucky enough for a post to open in your area of expertise 4) convince a panel of peers that you are the best one out of tens or hundreds (depending on the discipline) candidates.

    To get tenure, you have to have a perfect teaching evaluation, have had several important grants, have established yourself as an expert in your discipline, graduated a small army of students, all payed by your grants, have had good industry contracts, have done service at several local, national and international levels.

    So we are talking apple and oranges about what it means to be a professor here or in Europe versus in Venezuela.

    Now, the problem in Venezuela is that the wages are even lower than the ones given to lecturers or teaching assistants in our systems.

    And, of course, it is the egg and the hen problem: if the wages were more competitive with international salaries, the professors would also be competitive at the international level.


  12. I am a student in a technical institute in a first world country, and I had to take out a loan that I will be paying off for the first years of my professional life. If I can’t pay, all the legal conscecuences follow.

    How is this not a more wide-spread system? I mean, to the question “how will your education be payed for?” why isn’t the answer “by the government, who you will have to pay back as soon as you start making the dough?”

    I mean, it would have some severe pitfalls to get started, but it would be a moraly and economically tenable system in the medium-to-long-run.

    The government would end up losing money, of course, but much less than it is now (and careers whose graduates can produce no money afterwards would fade out, as they should).


  13. the Ministry of Education used to have the largest budget of all executive ministries back in the CAPII days. The new team lead by Rosen and a smallgroup of (relativelly speaking) technocrats faced a daunting task.

    On the Executive floor alone there were over 30 secretaries for the Secretario General alone, out of the 30, only 2 could type….

    In the builidng alone, more than 70 different sindicatos, to bring the point closer, a sindicato de ascensoristas of the even floor elevators, and another for the elevators that serviced odd floors…(no kidding!)

    Now, since then I think there have been created and consolidated, and recreated new and “improved” ministerios de educacion superior etc.

    Add to that all the incumbets in the different Universities and magisterios, and waht you have is a very complicated problem

    I agree with Aveledo and many before, ethics, morals and common sense shoud be the drivers of a reengineering problem solving excersice, however, we all know waht happened last time someone tried to put brains to solve venezuelian issues. (circa 1992), and waht followed hence (1998-present)

    We are a gorup of potentially powerfull concerned veenzuelians, taht would like things to happen more sensibly, that beleive better public policy could improve our country, but really, we need to adress the reality of over 3 MM empleados publicos and a culture of entrenched clientelismos and ineficiencia.

    How do we bring ahead changes by concensus? hard task indeed.
    Some one mentioned ..unless you are perez Jimenez… I think he/she was also refering to the strong arm approach required to push these fundamental systemic changes…

    Your thoughts?


  14. Very complicated issues indeed. I am professor in the UCV Maracay campus and can attest to at least some advances in improvement of docents. It is now very hard for a person without graduate studies to enter a concurso. If one is not al giorno with promotions the CDCD will not unleash a cent for what ever project one may present. Unfortunately the miserable salaries, almost nonexistent funding for research that is not in line with the revolution, failing infrastructure and other limitations because of the regime´s economic choking of the autonomous universities make these institutions very bleak places to work in. 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 3 or more times. We joke and say they will eventually seek a retirement pension from the UCV. Any measures that try to address such vices even in the most timid way are instantly denounced as repressive and what ever. The amount of students in some graduate schools have fallen dramatically, many simply attending because they need the degree to get a promotion but there seems no real fire to ask questions and do research. Many concursos now wind up empty, especially if it is for dedicacion exclusiva. A good number of professors, even well established with their own flat, are leaving. Graduate schools are increasingly relying on emeritus staff or closing some courses. Admin responsibilities for docents 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 is vox populi that one becomes the conserje. Research and teaching fade away.

    The workers trade union decides who enters, not the human resources Dept. It is 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. It is easier to fire a docent 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 lodge 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 is 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 present prospects make even this doubtful. I estimate having to let a room in my flat to make ends meet as a pensioner. Know what …. I´m looking at editales for concursos in Brazil … and they look real good. Paper work sucks. So much to do here .. so much to discover, but things seem to go more uphill as time goes by. Not withstanding all these handicaps the UCV still manages to deliver a decent education! Que maravilla. What a pity.


  15. As someone who is currently studying in a German university, I can really back this whole argument. In spite of ridiculously low tuition fees (My Masters Degree program of two years rises up to less the 2500 euros; the Bundesland Baden-Württemberg has declared all consecutive studies free of charge), the quality of the facilities and the overwhelming roster of top-notch professors is proof of how a country can function within Free Market and Welfare State, without it really being called “socialism” or “freelance capitalism”.
    Sure, a Professor still doesn’t earn as much as an engineer or a doctor would, but the gap is much less demoralizing over here than it is in many other parts of the world (USA included). Nonetheless, the benefits education staff receive here turn that “ok” salary into a more than enough one. Healthcare, childcare and the education of their family is almost nothing.
    Of course, another issue is the incentives given to universities to really invest in their quality. Germany has no Ivy League system among its public higher education facilities, but they do have a ranking that places eleven universities in what they refer to as “elite”. As almost everything in this country, merit decides who is going to fill this elite list. The higher you rank on this list, the more “additional funding” the university receives. In other words, the university the offers newer and more innovative study courses; produces the highest amount of research (scientific and of the social sciences), receives more funding to reinvest within.
    The number of universities and technical schools offering Doctorate programs and Masters Degrees in English has sprung. Demand has equally increased, convincing Germans to study in their own country instead of going abroad; as well as attracting other EU and non-EU citizens to join ranks.
    It’s a type of incentive easily applicable to other countries. If Venezuela were to do this, we would see the UCV, ULA and LUZ, along many other public universities, clean their act up somewhat. It’s a start at least…


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