ONE: UNIVERSITY ENROLLMENT FALLS BY 26%
Cuban universities have slashed enrollment by nearly 26%, apparently because of deep cuts in government spending, while several foreign investors are leaving the island, according to official and news media reports quoted by the Miami Herald.
Cuba's National Statistical Office admitted that overall enrollment in universities, all state-run, fell from 473,309 in the 2010-11 school year to 351,116 in the 2011-12. That’s a drop of 122,193 students, or 25.8%.
The largest group of students, 118,914, was enrolled in medical sciences, reflecting the government’s high interest in educating doctors, dentists and nurses.
The biggest drop in enrollment was in social sciences, though it remained the 2nd largest group with 77,200, said the ONE report.
Cuba’s Ministry of Higher Education sets admission quotas depending on the skills needed, but government officials have complained recently that universities are turning out too few scientists who can help modernize the economy and open new areas of production lines.
“Like other developing states, Cuba is trying now to push away from ideologically useful education — the social sciences and humanities — to job- and wealth-producing fields,” said Larry Cata-Backer, a professor at Pennsylvania State University who has studied the Cuban education system.
Cuba’s communist government has long boasted of its achievements in health and education — the record of 711,000 university students in 2008-09 was a stunning figure in a country of 11.2 million — although both areas have suffered significantly since the Soviet Union halted its massive subsidies in the early 1990s.
The Health Ministry announced in January that it had cut its 2011 budget by 7.7%, and Higher Education ministry officials say each university graduate costs the state 25,000 to 40,000 pesos — roughly $890 to $1,450.
Don't miss out
Become a Digital Subscriber and continue to access all the exclusive and insightful reporting you'll only find in Cuba News.Subscribe Now - Get 30 days Free