ITSA is growing to serve all of Metro Barranquilla

ITSA agreement. Photo credit: Mayor Char's press office.

ITSA will become the Technological University for Barranquilla and its metropolitan area

Mayor Alejandro Char was pleased with the third debate adoption of the agreement that will allow ITSA (Technological Institute of Soledad) to become a Technological University for Barranquilla and its environs. As the leader of this initiative, he highlighted the approval of the project as it fulfills another one of his great campaign promises.

As part of the program to strengthen the quality of higher education for Barranquilleros, Mayor Char said he expects to have the support of the Assembly and that together they’ll need to amass resources to make the project successful. In total, the initiative will positively benefit some 12,000 young students.

During the debate, the Assembly also approved the ordinance regulating the scientific and technological development of ITSA. It establishes that the contracts signed with the district, the metropolitan area and the government will have a 0.3% tax to generate resources.
This levy will become an important financial resource to cover the costs of construction and equipment for the main complex, covering some five hectares on 30th street. The tax will also help to reduce the base cost of student enrollments.

Now, for those who don’t live in Soledad, it may not be so easy to understand, but for the Soledeño, the existence of the Technological Institute of Soledad ITSA, as an educational institution of their town, is an object of pride. Every city aims to have its university, it is the unmistakable symptom of intellectual development and helps to raise the collective imagination about the possibilities of the development of its people. After all, it is the university that drives progress and research; it is the university that fosters the emergence of a citizen capable of reflection and criticism.

For many Soledeños, ITSA contributes to their identity and represents the reason to remain cohesive as a municipality. But this idea fades as they see their alma mater heading to become a district university. It’s about their dignity.

However it’s also important to consider the conveniences of the transfer of ITSA to the District:

  • Currently, ITSA collects revenue from tuition and other services in the amount of $12,340,120,372, which represents 75.80% of its entire budget.
  • MEN (Ministry of National Education) contributes with $3,102,736,807 (19.06 %); the Department of Atlantico, $526,907,128 (3.24%) and the Municipality of Soledad $310,273,681 (1.90%).
  • Considering this, the biggest budgetary burden is on the families’ and students’ shoulders, who, during an academic year pay more than two million pesos, making it increasingly difficult to access and retain young people from the lower social levels. With this transfer to the District, the contribution of the government will move from 24.2% to 65%, and this will produce a gradual change in the cost of the annual tuition for students in stratum 1, 2 and 3. They’ll pay 1 SMLMV (Colombian statutory minimum salary <h/>), of $689.454 pesos, across the three semesters of the academic year.
  • Government annual income for investment with the transfer to the District will increase from 3,800 million pesos to 9,000 million pesos. Consequently, the construction of the new headquarters of ITSA in Soledad will take place in strategic site near the airport on 5 hectares owned by the Department.
  • ITSA remains the public higher education institution with the most efficient operation model in Colombia; in 15 years it hasn’t stopped for even one day. It runs across 42 weeks per year in a quarterly model that contrasts against the six-month model that covers only 32 weeks a year at most higher education institutions in the country, and their students can achieve three degrees in higher education in a preparatory model (professional technician, technologist and professional) in 4 only years and eight months.

For ITSA, this initiative represents the recognition of its educational quality and the possibility of extending its coverage to benefit youth in Barranquilla and the Department of Atlantico. The decision to transform ITSA into a District University of Barranquilla will bring significant value to Soledad, Barranquilla, the Metropolitan Area, the Department of Atlantico, the Caribbean and all public institutions of higher education across Colombia. Beyond the sense of loss that some Soledeños feel, there’s still hope that this change will be for the best.