About the Future-se program

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By Joao Carlos Salles*

The University Council of the Federal University of Bahia (CONSUNI), in an extraordinary meeting held on October 29, unanimously rejected the Entrepreneurs and Innovators Universities and Institutes Program — Future-se. The Council's deliberation did not ignore the first draft of the draft, previously presented on July 17, 2019, but its object was the new proposal, consolidated by a working group of federal prosecutors and made public on October 16, 2019.

All members of the UFBA University Council reported on the debates in their respective units, forums or categories, and expressed in an extensive and clear way the reasons for their rejection, it is important to mention that, where there was prior deliberation by congregations or other instances, each decision was previously also taken unanimously, which denotes careful debate and mature deliberation.[I]

Our reading is not intended to be exhaustive. Nor does it resemble a CONSUNI minutes. It therefore preserves the traits of a personal reading, despite taking advantage of and mentioning in particular contributions from this rich collective reflection, which were sufficient to establish that the Future Program threatens the public university, because: (1) it threatens its autonomy; (2) indicates the State's lack of commitment to public funding of higher education; and, finally, (3) being inept as a solution, it attacks the fullness, integrity and unity of each university institution, as well as the entire federal higher education system. Here, then, briefly, are some of the reasons that, in our view, explain and justify such a decisive rejection of this Program.

Two Logical Observations

The text of the proposal can be submitted to different levels of analysis, and can be discussed according to perspectives from different areas of knowledge. Before pointing out more direct problems of content, which were, indeed, the most direct object of the debate, we highlight some formal and political aspects, in the form of two considerations of a logical nature.

(I) On the mention of an article of the Constitution in the text of the Bill.

The contingent and the necessary are immiscible. And this even if, in a more flexible analysis of the logic of modalities, we consider the possible alteration of the most fundamental ground of experience, with the limits of the logical space not universally determined and, therefore, it being conceivable that grammatical propositions can become empirical propositions and vice versa. Whatever the understanding of modalities, the necessary is not part of the field of the significant, of what may eventually be true or false. It is unquestionable, and the unquestionable is not stated, because we cannot imagine that it can be dispensed with.

Of course, the analogy between logic and experience does not strictly apply to distinctions in level between the constitutional text (even in fundamental precepts) and other legal orders. The difference notwithstanding, the analogy is altogether suggestive in this case. It is therefore significant that, in the midst of a bill, it is stated, in item I of article 2o., which aims to ensure “obedience to university autonomy, pursuant to art. 207 of the Constitution”, as if the law could provide for the constitutional text or require obedience to an article of it. The phrase is, therefore, either completely innocuous, or rather reveals the guilty conscience of those who once imagined that they could indeed legislate in a way that was not in line with the Federal Constitution. In fact, it would be a first mockery of the Constitution to announce the fulfillment of one of its capital articles, demoting it, however, to the level of an item of an article of a bill. This type of downgrading is not infrequent, and logical carelessness does not in itself imply legal failure, pretexting that the adage is worth it. quod abundat non nocet. However, the pleonasm is the place of emptiness, and deserves our attention, above all due to this operation of reformulation of the proposal which, without removing its more aggressive features, aimed precisely at reducing the rejection of the previous draft, removing from it the image of flagrant unconstitutionality .

What logic suggests as a vice, legal analysis will not show as a virtue, even if it does not entail a serious flaw. But attention. The constitutional text grants universities an autonomy that cannot and does not need to be expanded. Its limit is the very horizon of the Constitution, but it is special, not resembling that attributed to other entities of the Indirect Administration precisely because it is constitutionally qualified, in the same way as that conferred to political entities in the Brazilian Federation, finding itself, therefore, entrenched and subject to true constitutional protection that rejects any measure tending to abolish it or even to mitigate it.[ii]

In other words, its status is that of a fundamental precept, linked to the principles of freedom of expression and manifestation of thought, which would be common to any entity, if universities were not configured, by distinction in relation to other entities, as a special place of production of thought, that is, a place where autonomy is associated with the obedience of a specific principle, by which teaching, research and extension are inseparable.

The unconstitutionality is not verified, therefore, in this or that item, in an isolated way, but in the spirit of the Program:

(…) if the constitutional autonomy conferred by art. 207 enshrines didactic-scientific, administrative, financial and asset management autonomy, it remains evident that the law cannot determine what the institution's performance goals would be, which would represent an undue intervention, being a matter that cannot be decided except in the exercise of university management by the university itself.[iii]

Without venturing into the field of psychoanalysis of the elaboration of legal pieces, would this be a plausible hypothesis — that the explicit mention ends up diminishing the mentioned precept? Do they perhaps intend to transform into contingent legislation what is a condition of what can be legislated? The bill denounces, perhaps, with this logical and legal fragility, what is at stake, what it basically entails. If a text needs to recall an item that, moreover, it could not alter or suppress, it is precisely because this is the point under constant threat, if not formal, of clear practical constraint.

After the first draft suffered many fair criticisms for simply: (1) changing the wording of the constitutional text, starting to refer to financial autonomy, for example, instead of financial management autonomy; and (2) placing a management contract with a Social Organization as a gateway to joining the program, we detected a real movement of concealment, softening the expression “adhesion” by the term “participation” (although joining is participating and participating, we know well, that is to join) and also, in another exercise in euphemism, replacing the management contract with a performance contract, with which it cannot be hidden that, also in this softened form, the autonomy of the university is clearly restricted. Interestingly, the explicit mention of article 207 of the Constitution is also of the order of a cover-up.

Logical-formal flaws are always undesirable, and they are instructive. We want to believe that, in this case, they are due in part to the haste in the elaboration of a document that, however, intends to transform the entire structure of federal higher education. The presence of slips is therefore disproportionate to the mission, such as this other one, also of a logical nature, which consists of listing, without a common basis, dispositions of different levels, as in that Chinese encyclopedia by Jorge Luis Borges, which classified animals according to criteria of a different order, thus compromising the very common ground in which some classification and some possible meaning would be given. This is what happens with article 1o. do Future Program, which adds, alongside objective purposes, an ideological inclination. The purpose of providing additional sources (item I) or encouraging an increase in the raising of own resources (item II) and the purpose, tainted by an ideological preference, of encouraging the promotion of an entrepreneurial vision (item V) are not of the same nature. ). And this slide is structural. Associating the “savior” allocation of budget to a particular view of the university implies constraining the institution's margin of freedom, limiting the full exercise of its autonomy, whereby, in accordance with its history, competence and challenges, the institution must decide about the how it organizes itself and the direction of its academic life.

(II) On the conjunction structure of article 207.

A little more logical analysis, even simple and elementary. Here is the exact text of article 207 of the Federal Constitution: “Universities enjoy didactic-scientific, administrative and financial and asset management autonomy, and will obey the principle of inseparability between teaching, research and extension”.

The logical structure of the article is clear, allowing us to precisely establish its truth conditions. We have a main conjunction, dividing the article into two parts, the first part being resolved in other conjunctions, while the second part conjugates into an indissoluble whole a principle to be obeyed. From a logical point of view, the truth of a joint proposition is a function of the truth of its component propositions. The conjunction will only be true if all the joint components are true, without exception. The falsity of a single proposition makes the set false, so that, in the case of the statement set of rules in an article, the article will only be respected if the rules constituting it are all respected.

Everyone knows the truth table of a conjunction, which tells us exactly what it tells us, namely, that the function will be true if and only if all components (arguments of the function) are true. And there is another case:

p q because
V V V
V F F
F V F
F F F

The general structure of Article 207 is rather that of a propositional function, A&B:

A & B
Universities enjoy didactic-scientific, administrative, and financial and asset management autonomy   , It is they will obey the principle of inseparability between teaching, research and extension.

A it is also characterized as a conjunction of propositions, without the analysis being complete:

(a) Universities enjoy didactic-scientific autonomy;

(b) Universities enjoy administrative autonomy;

(c) Universities enjoy financial and asset management autonomy.

While B, on the other hand, may have a more complex translation, to account for the idea of ​​inseparability. Exact logical translation is not that simple, nor does it need to be done. It is enough for us to indicate that it would need to approximately express that each dimension of the university's final activity is affirmed, without dispensing with the correlative affirmation of the other dimensions, that is, teaching cannot take place without research or without extension, and so on. However, it must express something else, namely, that these dimensions of university life are not just side by side, in tight compartments, but that teaching is internally linked to research and extension, and so on; that is, these dimensions maintain an indissoluble bond, they are interconnected, not being mere items from a list of indifferent components, as if arranged separately on supermarket shelves.

This being so, both due to the logical nature of the statement of the rule and the nature of the institution (which assumes an organic link between finalistic activities and secondary activities), a didactic-scientific autonomy without administrative autonomy, etc., does not make sense, as well as autonomy has its justification in the very nature of the institution, whose deliberative maturity results from the way it produces and transmits knowledge, in addition to relating it to the interest of society. This well-established conjunction between autonomy and institutional nature also requires the guarantee of resources by the State, so that we have the determination of financial management autonomy. A proposal that diminishes any of the sides of this great conjunction, or that subtracts any of its components, will be attacking the Constitution. In case of presenting itself in a disguised way, in which exactly what is mentioned is withdrawn, we have an even more serious indication of a sneaky mockery of the Constitution.

Such fraud stems, in particular, from the impoverishment of the thematic axes of the Future Program. In addition to being reduced to three — 1) research, technological development and innovation; 2) entrepreneurship; 3) internationalization —, there is the aggravating factor of determining, in its formulation, either by the source of financing, or by the description of mere pragmatic actions, without the axes being governed by the principle of inseparability of teaching, research and extension. In particular, the vision of entrepreneurship itself is impoverished, which Program so much praise.

Public universities are not companies. Inside, therefore, entrepreneurial actions cannot be governed by principles alien to their public nature or institutional project. For this very reason, there is a true semantic dispute over the notion of entrepreneurship, a dispute that the Program, perhaps out of ignorance, ignores or downgrades:

(…) the most consistent understanding of entrepreneurship takes place in actions of social and cultural transformations. Undertaking means innovating, creating, seeking improvements by changing society. The document reduces the term to a financial aspect. Capitals are also cultural and immaterial and not just economic. Universities are not companies, to undertake is also to be open to knowledge coming from subaltern communities, which, based on hegemonic thinking, were excluded from the university context. (…) The concept of entrepreneurship, the term most used in the document, does not treat education as a public and free good, placing it as a tradable commodity.[iv]

Now, the Constituent Assembly clearly and unequivocally expressed, with the Federal Constitution of 1988, the highest interest of public higher education. The legislator was then fortunate enough to intimately and internally associate the affirmation of university autonomy with an institution project, mirrored in the conviviality and collaboration between the multiple dimensions and areas of university life. The conjunction is therefore of all importance. Affirmations are not simply joined together; they are related, so that the article, to be obeyed, assumes the truth of both joint propositions. That is, university autonomy, with its multiple facets, assumes obedience to the principle, which is also non-negotiable, of inseparability between teaching, research and extension. Whoever affirms obedience to the autonomy foreseen in the article, but disregards the full university project associated with it, practices a kind of performative contradiction; behaves like that mohel who hangs a large clock at the entrance to his shop, even though he knows that's not exactly his business.

It also means a mockery of the Constitution to state that such university autonomy can be expanded (as if the plenum could be fuller, as if the maximum could be even more maximum), as this will be at the price of a decrease in the application of the principle. After all, in the case of the autonomy envisaged for universities, the legislator did not grant a public department an extraordinary prerogative of self-regulation. More than that, the legislator recognized and affirmed that the university is not just a public office.

The threat to university autonomy can therefore be direct by restricting the university's right to self-regulation, but also by diminishing the university's own project. In this sense, despite the attenuation of some rough edges, the new proposal maintains the essence and spirit of the previous proposal. In particular, when it intends to display economic expertise, it betrays a great ignorance of university academic life, but also of the functioning of the market, which, nevertheless, it praises so much. On the other hand, in its legal aspect, it fails to hide the claws of flagrant unconstitutionality. In this case, instead of legal sophistication, it shows confusion in the face of an object, apparently, little known by the working group of attorneys, who are indeed talented, but, as it seems, without sufficient academic training. For this reason (even not speaking for MEC when providing this service), they end up treating the university as just another public agency, without respecting the reflection processes that are characteristic of it and that constitute effective means to regulate its actions, to decide its future and, finally, to be a criterion of what quality is in the dimensions to be preserved and reinforced in teaching, research, extension and innovation, without the need or sacrifice of one of these dimensions or any area of ​​knowledge. Not even being certain that the diligent work of the Prosecutors will be fully respected and that this bill will be forwarded to Congress, this is what we now have to appreciate.

Where, in short, are the threats?

Logical analysis only locates the text, emphasizes its formal context, which it makes explicit or conceals, as if it were perhaps describing the setting of a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Purloined Letter”. However, its content is much more serious, with clear threats to the autonomy, funding and project of a public, free, inclusive and quality university. For the rejection of the proposal, several points were raised. They have unequal importance, come from different angles and do not need to be presented according to a hierarchy of reasons. However, distributively or jointly, they indicate that the Future Program it is unacceptable.

First, due to its one-sidedness. A proposal needs to be up to the challenge of sustaining the university in its multiplicity, of making it develop harmoniously, guaranteeing its effective fullness and its organizing principle established in the Constitution. A proposal that leads to the hypertrophy of one dimension and, therefore, in a systematic way, to the reduction of the others, violates article 207. Thus, the Program unilaterally and ideologically limited a dimension of university life, denying the provisions of article 207 for restrictive attitudes to the autonomy or nature of the university, in which it commits a clear and unacceptable performance contradiction. This is verified, for example, with art. 8o., which points to the complete imbalance of what, on the contrary, must be inseparable, since all additional revenues drawn by the funds, in the form of special benefits, “must be allocated to entrepreneurship, research, technological development and innovation and internationalization activities ”.

This prescription directly attacks extension, but also basic research and all areas that, because they are not applied or utilitarian, do not contemplate the provisions of item VII of article 3o., according to which research that “objectives the generation of innovative products, processes and services and the transfer and dissemination of technology” will be valued. Unequivocally, we have a mockery of the Constitution with this explicit restrictive use of the budget, as it both blemishes the principle of inseparability and subordinates the autonomy of financial management. It should be noted that inclusion itself (a task that is now even more fundamental and necessary due to the success of affirmative actions) is compromised by the ideological nature of the proposal, since, in this case, Fund resources (supposedly) Sovereign can be used in actions aimed at student assistance, but according to a restrictive clause, namely, “provided they are linked to entrepreneurship or research and innovation” (article 32, item III).

It is worth noting that this exacerbated praise of entrepreneurship, about being one-sided, reveals an impoverishing vision. Entrepreneurship and innovation, which have a place in university life, gain meaning when associated with specific local productive arrangements, with the improvement of living conditions, but also with the multiple dimensions of university life, with effective teaching and learning processes, research and, it is worth emphasizing, extension.

By reducing the vision of entrepreneurship, a risk of adherence to a restricted logic is identified, based solely on the connection with the private business sector and which does not conceive the epistemic extension that has been developed by Universities in recent years, thus neglecting the different models and modeling of entrepreneurship in plural Brazil, which include solidarity economy, family farming, socio-environmental entrepreneurship, ethnic entrepreneurship, social management of socio-territorial development, social technologies, in short, the rich and abundant lexicon that was forged by Brazilian Universities within the epistemologies of the South that wants to be and become global and international. Acquiescing to the university's privatist logic favors market needs, elevated to the condition of the main stimulator of S&T policies to the detriment of Civil Society and the State itself. As a result, the decades-long efforts around Social Technologies that have greatly alleviated poverty in the country in recent years are thrown to the ground, in the face of the perverse effects of exclusionary globalization with its neoliberal logic of exclusion of subjects.[v]

Second, by restricting the exercise of university autonomy. The contract that could expand the autonomy of a direct and indirect administration body, according to §8 of art. 37 of the Federal Constitution, is not a performance contract and, moreover, does not apply to universities, as these already enjoy the maximum possible autonomy conferred on an entity of the union that is not an independent power. Therefore, the maximum cannot be increased, that is, the claim to expand an autonomy already fully established by the Constitution is fallacious. If autonomy is additionally qualified, then it can only be based on some restriction. Part of the management would be transferred, according to contracts to be signed, depending on the expectation of granting special benefits. To ensure these benefits, the Program it interferes with didactic-scientific autonomy, for example, by prescribing curricular matrices, by imposing contents and guidelines, by directing what, on the contrary, should be the object of autonomous deliberation by the institutions.

In effect, the performance contract would transfer decisions on the three axes of the Program, interfering in the dynamics and self-regulation of the university. At the very least, it would tilt the entire institutional development plan in an exclusive direction, to the detriment of the goals already built by each of our universities. The embarrassment is clear, also because access to special benefits, which are the biggest Program, would henceforth depend on meeting performance contract targets, at the price of even the simplest achievement of our full university life. Also, there is a clear waiver of financial management autonomy, since the constituted Funds, especially the equity, are now managed by a private institution.

Logic makes us suspect, and the facts do not contradict it. O Program presents a small view of university management tasks, which are transferred to private entities, to institutions that, by their nature, cannot have a comprehensive view of university reality, nor can they function according to a democratic practice:

Substantially, the proposal outsources management, brings a strong threat to the collegiate decision-making process (superior councils, congregations, departments and collegiate bodies) that structure the practice of management within the scope of the University, threatening the democratic character of its governance.[vi] 

Furthermore, the notion of performance contract, with the euphemism it entails and its imprecision, presents clear problems, being able to introduce distortions within the system, deepening regional inequalities and simply favoring institutions that are more consolidated or more able to compete for resources:

There is no anticipation of the criteria adopted for evaluating performance and defining indicators. There is a risk of inserting a logic of competition between sister institutions, above all because, by establishing adherence to performance contracts, public funding may shift from public institutional development policies to the logic of selecting centers of excellence and , therefore, the exclusion of former partner, complementary and subsidiary universities.[vii]

The very maintenance of the idea of ​​membership, now disguised under the name of participation, is undesirable for a public system, not guided by the logic of competition typical of the market. This is obviously yet another dangerous euphemism, since in the case of Future Program, if there are “participation” clauses, to join is to participate and to participate means to join. As a result, the federal higher education system is divided, its units launch into competition, and the MEC ceases to offer isonomic solutions, as would be, after all, its sole responsibility.

Third, as it implies a long-term disengagement from the State with the public funding of higher education, developing a strategy to replace public resources with private resources and also, more clearly in the new version, with the university's own revenues. In this case, aggravating the previous proposal, it does not release the simple use of its own revenues without ceiling limitation, but rather directs these resources to the constitution of an endowment fund, from which the universities would return, not the entirety of the earned resources, but the your income. With that, it faces a serious problem with a terrible solution, when today we even have a much better, clearer and, moreover, unifying solution for the system. As Nelson Cardoso Amaral reminds us:

(...) the solution for the own resources to be executed in the budgets of the Federal Universities and not in the support foundations or social organizations, is underway in the National Congress, which is the Constitutional Amendment Proposal (PEC) No 0024/2019, which withdraws own resources from the amount of resources that are part of those associated with the limits established by Constitutional Amendment 95/2016, which established the freezing of primary expenditures until the year 2036.[viii]

There are also consistent reasons for not relying on the proposals for an Endowment Fund and a Sovereign Knowledge Fund, as formulated. First, the rhetorical assertion that the State's commitment will be maintained and that such funds would only mean additional sources is contrary to the evidence. We live in a reality of continuous cuts to the budget (especially in the investment heading) or, also, in the case of the costing heading, of mere nominal replacement of overall values, without adjustments due to inflation being made or accompanying the expansion of the system. That is, the proposal is presented in a scenario of clear budget gap, in the face of which, if the State's commitment is not updated, the dependence on funds could only increase:

In these cases, there is a risk of the preponderance of the notion of university funding restricted to market logic, something that in the medium term could mean restricting the guarantee of the right to higher education from an inclusive and diverse perspective and, at the same time, , the distancing of the university from social movements and organizations, minorities, the themes most critical of governments and the market itself. Therefore, the freedom to choose the demands that will be met is hurt, moving in the opposite direction to the guidelines of university expansion and plurality in its access.[ix]

If the scenario is one of replacing public funding, whatever the proportion, the responsible manager cannot think of solutions that create distortions and, therefore, favor only a part of the system to be financed. Nor should it propose ill-fitting solutions, which, despite being questionable due to their harmful side effects, are detached from previous studies and cannot even, to use an expression popular with current rulers, deliver the results they promise.

(…) One of the main sources of funds suggested would be investment by the Venture Capital. There is an abysmal disproportion between the size of the Venture Capital in Brazil and the expectations of the government. According to the Brazilian Association of Private Equity & Venture Capital (ABVCAP), in 2018, the total amount available for investments in this modality in Brazil was R$ 2,4 billion. That is, this type of resource, even if entirely directed to the FSC, would have a very small representation compared to the total estimated value of R$100 billion. The international experience of Venture Capital at universities such as Berkeley Ventures, UCLA VC Fund e XFund (Harvard), Big Red Ventures (Cornell) and StartX (Stanford), focuses on support (not just financial) to the entrepreneurial ecosystem of universities, and not as a source for their budgets. Another source of funds for the composition of the FSC would be donations and endowment funds (endowment). These funds, already dealt with in Law 13.800/19, do not present themselves as a novelty brought by the Future-se program, already being adopted by some IFES. However, just so that the differences in the feasible and projected orders of magnitude can be perceived, it should be noted that the Amigos da Poli Heritage Fund (FPAP) of the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo, founded in 2012, and associated with a school that Its alumni are big names in the industrial and financial sector, it has an equity of approximately R$ 23 million, which indicates, at the very least, that the maturation time for an endowment fund in Brazil would be quite long. In short, although the draft does not explicitly state the State's release, there is a clear sign that universities will come to depend on funds about which nothing is known about their structure and supported by promises of performance detached from the reality of the Brazilian capital market . The proposal is based on an unjustified optimism, not consistent with the necessary responsibility for the financial management of the IFES.[X]

Therefore, the proposal does not offer a safe and consistent solution for financing. Were it not for the blatant aggression to the autonomy and nature of the university, were it not for the equally unacceptable lack of commitment signaled by the proposal with the public funding of higher education, were it not for the clear damage to the well-constituted legislation on education, were it not for its mercantilist ideological mark contrary to the spirit of a public, free, inclusive and full quality university, the proposal still shows lack of preparation and improvisation, not being up to the level of higher education funding.

Bedroom, for preferring the private interest to the public interest, especially in strategic matters, in relation to which it is necessary to safeguard the common good, always associated with State policies. There are many examples of this serious lack of distinction or even preference for the market, as a result of which the Program seeks to weaken the presence of the State and, consequently, the value of its servants. Thus, it compromises the quality of higher education by removing from public universities the condition of criterion of what should or should not be recognized, the prerogative of revalidating or not diplomas, in addition to providing (using dubious and strange terms) the “facilitation” and the “acceleration” of files, going against the rigorous measures of evaluation and quality assurance of diplomas and other procedures.

The indistinction between the public and the private continues, therefore, to tarnish the proposal, being in essence a clear attack on the State and the public dimension of society. This even happens in apparently innocent suggestions, such as the use of the Rouanet Law to promote university culture facilities. Now, as we know, the Rouanet Law does not satisfy basic principles for the elaboration of public policies; in particular, it even increases regional inequalities, constituting a random and undue way for the distribution of public money. And that's exactly what it's about, public money, since almost all of the resources collected through this means come from tax waivers. By using the market as a criterion for what should be valued and encouraged, it constrains didactic-scientific autonomy, and even favors the market as a mechanism for distributing public resources.

When there is precedence of the common interest, public policies privilege the historical and cultural heritage, and not the interest of the real estate market. Thus, article 34 of the Future Program, which reveals a dangerous mercantilist preference, even more so as we are all familiar with the long-standing siege of the real estate market on prime areas occupied by universities and historic buildings. Contrary to the zeal shown by our heritage commissions and the judicious opinions of units such as the Faculty of Architecture, the proposal seems to encourage the opening of the doors to a siege on the real estate of universities, which would be constrained, in difficult times, to distort their use or discard assets whose historical and cultural significance has a time scale distinct from the immediate interest of the market.

The proposal, with a clear ideological bias, introduces a spirit of monetization of immaterial symbolic values, contrary to the highest values ​​of citizenship, including by encouraging donations conditioned not to the recognition of the value of the institution, but according to the counterpart of delivery of symbolic values ​​by resource consideration account, as in contracts granting the right to appoint. In the same vein, the Program functionalizes the nature of the academic community, which ceases to be the source of even democratic values ​​and the fundamental basis for our insertion in broader scientific and cultural communities, becoming reduced to functional and unified diversification in the common plan of objectives and not by its reflective interaction. (Cf. Article 3o., item X.) In particular, it reduces the role of public servants:

It mischaracterizes the careers of professors and technical-administrative servants, with the proposal of transforming them into entrepreneurs, agents in search of profits and personal benefits, to the detriment of the social role of public servants. Additionally, the recent declarations by the Minister of Education of the intention to hire teachers and civil servants without public competition and without framing the Single Legal Regime, through the Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT), deepen the risks of dismantling public education, precariousness of working conditions for these professionals, and threats of political persecution.[xi]

The public dimension is also internally emptied when the integrity of the institution and its democratic culture are threatened, which, over time, have proved essential to the exercise of the most refined academic excellence and the most consistent social commitment. This is the case of the constitution of special purpose companies (SPE), legal entities governed by private law, in whose hands the development of projects ceases to be subordinated to collective institutional determinations. With this, the proposal raises the very emptying of collective representation, with the role of collegiate decision-making bodies (Councils, congregations, departments and collegiate bodies) at stake.

a brief conclusion

 The points listed above highlight aspects reiterated in many analyses, without exhausting the criticisms made to the project. They serve more to draw, against the grain, some non-negotiable principles, now attacked by the proposals and by the governmental discourse. It is worth mentioning that a substantial part of what the Future Program presents, in what may be interesting, it is not new and already has legal provision, depending only on the implementation, where relevant, of the new regulatory framework for science, technology and innovation and the recent legislation on endowment funds, both of which already exist and which, in addition to being better constructed (even if questionable in some points), do not divide the system, constrain university autonomy or compromise the inseparability between teaching, research and extension. As a result, the proposed Future yourself is far from being innocuous, since it deliberately introduces restrictions, loads with ideological reading components already practiced by our universities and compromises values ​​essential to autonomy and university life, so that, in its context, even what is not it's new, it's no longer interesting.

A significant set of laws, previously thought through slowly, are now subject to abrupt revision. As its previous approval was not gratuitous, there is certainly a set of reasons and debates that are being summarily dismissed. Also, as the proposal covers a set of actions that have already been approved, it ends up confusing, as if it were its merit, which nevertheless dispenses with any approval, except the internal one, as the new milestone of science, technology and innovation. In the same way, the proposal brings as solutions intents that are inferior to other ongoing initiatives, such as the removal of the ceiling for own revenues for the IFES, without distinction and without undue constraints. Finally, other points were presented, also relevant, but the list above seems to us sufficient to explain the profound, non-circumstantial reasons for the emphatic and decisive rejection of the Future Program.

In addition, it is worth noting that, also due to its gaps and ambiguities, the proposal created an atmosphere of insecurity. The uncertainty involves strategic aspects of the financing proposal, the nature of the regulations, the indicators that will be charged, the composition of the management committees, etc. And the lack of clarity, which denounces the improvised and careless condition of the proposal, is constantly reinforced by a belligerent discourse, of pure and simple aggression against managers and university life, so that the debate is held in an environment in which retaliation is not even ruled out , given the discursive inconsistency and rhetorical emphasis.

Contradictory thinking, it is worth remembering, is a typical symptom of a war environment. And the government seems to have abandoned the characteristic expedients of the debate, in favor of simple propaganda. As a result, it ceases to be committed even to the characteristics of the product it seeks to “sell”, at any price. Thus, it is possible to mention the expansion of an autonomy that restricts; insist that there will be no decrease in public funding, while, in his speech, he signals as desirable goals the reduction of the State's participation in funding to less than 40% of higher education resources; to say that it is participation that is controlled according to the molds of adhesion; enunciate that it will contribute external resources to the universities, at the same time that it casts the eyes of the real estate market on its assets and uses the university's own revenues; claim that it will release the cap on its own revenues, but from them only returning to the universities their income in funds.

The new proposal, whatever the rhetorical justification (or, even more so, for its war rhetoric), does not hide the nature of the project in its clearest aspects. that is, the Future Program, in either version, implies (i) decrease or constraint of university autonomy; (ii) the State's long-term disengagement from public funding of higher education; (iii) subordination of academic interests and principles to private or market interests; (iv) downgrading the fullness of the institution; (v) division of the higher education system; (vi) unilateral valuation of areas of knowledge; (vii) disengagement with the diversity of scientific research and effectively practiced cultural practices; (viii) lack of commitment to the goals of the National Education Plan, which are not even mentioned in the Future Program, as if the Program was its own goal and its indicators should not refer, point by point, to the expansion and quality of the education system already agreed upon.

The proposal was presented as daring. However, in its two versions, it is a copy of attempts already practiced elsewhere, with harmful results for the university institution. It presents itself as rich and innovative in itself. However, it is shy and incompetent, without its most daring gestures (those relating to funds) having been based on studies and projections, on the best professional practice. It presents itself as a step towards the future, including in its name. However, it is a warmed-over collage of tried-and-true solutions. Finally, it presents itself as a solution for education, as the salvation of universities; however, it reveals ignorance of the system, ignorance and flagrant disrespect for values ​​cultivated and tested by the university community over time.

It is therefore necessary to remove any suggestion that this proposal would come to the rescue of institutions that, after all, would be unsustainable. On the contrary, we must show the value of our work and show that our institutions are not failures. Failed will be the society that prefers ignorance to knowledge, and that renounces the expansion of unique institutions such as ours, capable of training people, of producing science, culture and art, signifying our society's bet on the future, on the development of our people and the intellectual independence of our nation.

*Joao Carlos Salles he is Dean of UFBA and president of the National Association of Directors of Federal Institutions of Higher Education (Andifes).


[I] Documents produced by UFBA units and councils mentioned in this text can be found on the university's website (www.ufba.br).

[ii] Cf. Opinion of the Commission for Analysis of the Future-se Program, Faculty of Law of UFBA.

[iii] Cf. Opinion of the Commission for Analysis of the Future-se Program, Faculty of Law of UFBA.

[iv] Document from the UFBA Academic Council for Research and Extension (CAPEX).

[v] Document “Analysis of the Future-se Program”, UFBA Business School.

[vi] Document “Analysis of the Future-se Program”, UFBA Business School.

[vii] Document “Analysis of the Future-se Program”, UFBA Business School.

[viii] AMARAL, Nelson, “The Performance Contract present in the new version of Future-offends University Autonomy and, therefore, should NOT be signed”, mimeo, 2019.

[ix] Document “Analysis of the Future-se Program”, UFBA Business School.

[X] Document “Analysis of the Future-se Program”, UFBA Business School.

[xi] Document from the Congregation of the Institute of Collective Health of UFBA.

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