Nearly 40 high school students from municipal high schools will have the opportunity to enter higher education directly, thanks to new university preparatory program opened by Universidad Viña del Mar (UVM). This pioneering regional initiative is aimed at students in the fourth year of secondary studies and that are among the top 5% of their class.
The students come from the Benjamin Vicuña Mackenna High School, the Technical School for Girls, the Eduardo de la Barra High School, the Maria Franck Mac Dougall High School, the Republic of Colombia High School, plus some students from the Foundation for Overcoming Poverty and the Techo Foundation.
"Like many we believe that the PAA and the PSU (entry exams) are selective and recognize the best prepared students who have had opportunities in private education. We believe that talent is distributed at all levels equally and that coming out on top of their class is a sign that they are competent and capable," said Julio Castro, UVM’s Rector.
He added that UVM wants to provide these students with opportunities throughout their higher education studies. "We really want to lead the drive to creating the social mobility that this country so desperately needs," he said.
For his part, Sebastián Godoy, President of the UVM Federation of Students, said "we are excited by the initiative and to be part of this nationwide network of preparatory programs, which have come about in part with the student movement of 2006, 2007 and 2008 that were led by Francisco Gil and focused on a series of demands that have to do with improving higher education."
Meanwhile, Miguel Muñoz, Coordinator of Curriculum and Assessment for the Municipality of Viña del Mar said: "The program is extremely important, as one of the participating students best said, acknowledging the possibility to attend university will bring them substantive improvements in the future."
Karina Loyola spoke on behalf of the new students of UVM preparatory program, expressing gratitude for this initiative, "since we are being provided a new opportunity. The PSU requires high scores to enter some degree programs that are very difficult for us to achieve, because we have not received the preparations needed to reach the levels set by the ministry."
Maria Ines Tapia, a language professor from UVM’s preparatory program said that "from the point of view of opening the university and giving new opportunities to reduce social gaps, this initiative seems very important. This is a flagship project to me personally and professionally enriched me enormously."
Opinions from the participants:
Paula Figueroa: All the help they can provide to students are welcome, especially now that we have are preparing for college and also finishing high school, so we’ll take advantage of anything that will help us in that sense. It is a good initiative. (She wants to study architecture).
Juan Rubio: It's interesting because it's a new way to get into college, not so much for the PSU system, but through a program that supports students from public high schools and all help is good help. It is an opportunity that must be taken. (He wants to study History Pedagogy).
Natalia Palma: It's a great opportunity, because you can learn more and develop more skills to enter college. (She wants to study design).
Jonah Miranda: I like that they are looking to new ways to provide access to college and that they do not obligate the student to enter the institution, so we still have the option to choose another institution. (He wants to study Graphic Design).
This article was originally written in Spanish and has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.