Move to increase red tape criticised

August 4, 2000

Argentina's university rectors have criticised their government's decision to introduce lengthy bureaucratic procedures for the convalidation of academic qualifications obtained abroad.

Under the new scheme, which is to be carried out by state universities in conjunction with the education ministry, foreign applicants for postgraduate places could in future face delays of up to one year in having their applications processed.

Meanwhile, most of the country's private universities and higher institutes have suspended foreign postgraduate applications - which, they say, they have received mainly from graduates in other Latin American countries.

The private universities, which have been excluded from the new scheme, have condemned the initiative as "very serious" and as representing a step backwards for Argentina's universities at a time when they are trying to promote cultural exchanges throughout the world.

But higher education secretary Juan Carlos Gottifredi said that legal loopholes had led to the admission of unsuitable candidates.

Mr Gottifredi said: "Many foreigners currently apply for postgraduate degrees in Argentina solely as a means of being able to practise their professions. Convalidation must therefore be more tightly regulated."

The ministry denied accusations of discrimination on the grounds that Argentine students who have obtained passes on international exchange schemes would be similarly affected. It also denied that it was concerned that too many foreign graduates were taking up valuable jobs in a period of high unemployment.

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