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Thursday, August 28 2014 @ 11:22 AM EDT

Changing The Rules To Prevent "Eternal Students" (Trouble Makers) At The University of Panama

Protests & Demonstrations14.3% of the student population at the University of Panama are working on their second degree, according to a report from this center of higher education. Given this situation and because these students are paying the same tuition as the other students who are working on their first degree, the university authorities are considering the implementation of an increase for those students.

The Rector of the University of Panama, Gustavo Garcia de Paredes, said that whoever wants to study for a second degree should pay an amount greater than those who are working on their first degree. He explained they seek to prevent students who are staying at the university for a longer period than what is required to obtain the title, on the pretext that they are supposedly studying for a second or third university degree.

For his part, Secretary General of the UP, Michelangelo Candanedo said this proposal is based on the regulation of the cost of a second or third degree, and what they might do is increase the credits per subject. He added that in case they have to develop this proposal, the University General Council will need to create a commission to address the issue because it means they will have to modify the university statute.

Debate - Meanwhile, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs of the UP, Elvis Barnes said this is a discussion that has not yet been raised and has emerged in the heat of the events that have occurred recently at the University, and when it has to be discussed, the CGU would probably establish the parameters within which performance will be discussed. He added this is a discussion in which the students, faculty, and staff would have to participate.

The regulation of UP indicates that a proposal must be approved by the Academic Council, then by the CGU in two sessions with at least two-thirds, which would be 73 votes of the 107 members participating in the council. The voters in the CGU have to perform two votes, at least one month apart, and, finally, wait for publication in the Official Gazette for that to become a standard recognized by the UP.

Time - Another point that might be raised in the UP's proposal is the regulation for those college students who enroll in only one to two courses per semester. The UP report also reveals that nationally within that educational institution, there are 900 students who have been at the university for ten years without graduating. There are 375 students who have been "studying" at the university for 15 years without having obtained a degree. And there are 104 "students" at the university who have been there for 20 years or more without having earned a degree.

In this regard, Candanedo said the mechanism will seek to prevent having students with many years in the UP system without managing to graduate. The figures indicate there are many students who enroll in a few subjects to remain within the university system. Officials hope that these proposals, once discussed and approved for implementation beginning in 2013, so that every student who wants to opt for a second or third degree will have to pay more, and there are no more "eternal students."

Discussion of these issues arise in response to the continuing reports that the majority of the "students" participating in the protests at the University of Panama are the same people who have been at the university for many years. The proposal to charge for credit hour is not new, since in the Technological University of Panama (UTP), in addition to the general enrollment - which is $26.80 -there is a three dollar charge per credit, both those who are working on their first degree and those who aspire to obtain a master's degree. In the case of students opting for a post graduate course at the UTP, for each credit must pay $8 in addition to the general enrollment fee.

On May 25 there were riots in UP, prompting the temporary expulsion of six students involved in the disorder.

Sanctioned, on hunger strike Yesterday, the student leader of the MJP, Carlos Bichett, joined the hunger strike. Bichett said the protest action is for the authorities to pay attention to them and remove the suspension. He is the second student who has opted for this measure, because Martin Castillo declared a hunger strike last week. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The game has changed. They are going to kick out the "eternal" trouble makers. Good. It's about time. This has been going on for decades.

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