BUENOS AIRES – Science professors, researchers and students, who had occupied the Science and Technology Ministry (Mincyt) since last Monday in protest against the cutbacks in the sector’s funding, ended the takeover after reaching an agreement with the government regarding their demands.
“The accord establishes the extension of the scholarship to 343 applicants for the Scientific and Technical Research Course (CIC), who were recommended but not selected for their entry into the same for a term up to Dec. 31, 2017.
The government also makes available 107 extraordinary scholarships for CIC applicants who were recommended but not selected for their entry into the same, and who currently do not belong to the Scholarship Program of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (Conicet), along with the remaining 58 who are scholarship students until March 2018.
The demonstrators were protesting against a 10 percent reduction in funds earmarked for the sector in the 2017 budget, a cut that would mean 60 percent fewer research students in Conicet, the postdoctoral Conicet intern Victoria Garcia told EFE.
“I’m one of those directly involved in this conflict because I was evaluated positively from the scientific and academic points of view to enter Conicet. But now I’ve been expelled due to the cutback being applied,” she said.
The secretary general of the teachers’ union at the University of Buenos Aires, Liliana Cheloto, said “we are here since Monday... in defense of our 489 colleagues who have passed all the different tests and whom Conicet nonetheless refuses to accept.”
Throughout the afternoon, the associations of researchers and professors met with members of the ministry to reach the accord that ended the occupation.
For 2017 the budget sent by the executive branch of government and passed by Congress plans an increase of 25.5 percent for Mincyt and almost 50 percent for Conicet, increases “notably higher than those registered for the 2016 school year,” the text said.
The ministry explained that, following Saturday’s agreement, Conicet will create an applicant acceptance plan together with other organizations of the scientific and technical system, universities and public agencies and companies with state participation, that will prioritize entry by order of merit.