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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Opinions are divided on repeal of college board as criteria for UPR admission

José Saldaña, Former University of Puerto Rico President

By The Star Staff

Former University of Puerto Rico President José Saldaña criticized current UPR President Luis Ferrao’s proposal to change UPR’s admission process to deal with a decline in enrollment that includes waiving the college board exam as a requisite.

Saldaña said waiving the college board as a criteria for admission would hinder the quality of student entering UPR and eliminate “one of the most important admission criteria that prevents students from entering who do not have the capacity to be in the institution. In other words, reduce the requirements so that more students can enter regardless of their ability.”

“Proposing this is monumental nonsense on Ferrao’s could put the University’s accreditation at risk. What really needs to be done - as he had pointed out to them for some time - is to institute an aggressive and effective marketing plan in the country’s high schools to try to recruit the best students just as private universities do,” Saldaña said.

The former president also suggested the appointment of recruiters that can regularly visit high schools and maintain regular and effective communication with school officials, including providing professional improvement activities free of charge.

“It is known throughout the university system that most of the school counselors, who are the ones who provide advice to high school graduating classes on the selection of professions and where to study them, have not favored the UPR. It appears that this happens because private institutions maintain a continuous link of communication with them, constantly organizing professional activities for their benefit. Something that UPR has not done,” he said in his blog.

The possibility of waiving the college board as an admissions requirement is one of seven changes to the admission process Ferrao proposed as part of his Academic and Administrative Plan University 2025 that he presented to the Board of Trustees last week. The report describes 18 areas for the transformation of the university.

There are 43,333 students enrolled at the UPR system in the academic year that began this month or 5,667 fewer students. In August 2021, UPR had 49,000 students.

Ferrao said that it is precisely the decline in university enrollment, together with the decline figures at the school level, and other demographic declines that affect Puerto Rico, such as lower fertility rates that has led him to propose the need to reformulate the admissions system to the UPR system.

Given the crisis in the enrollment, Ferrao said he entrusted the Vice President of Student Affairs with a reevaluation and rethinking of the current UPR admissions policy that will revolve around seven crucial aspects.

Besides repealing the college board as an admission requirement, Ferrao also asked the Vice President of Student Affairs to determine if the UPR system can develop an alternative method of placement free of charge for the student and offered in all campuses and units so that the potential student can visit UPR early in the process of admission to the institution.

He also proposed the establishment of an early admission process calendar for the UPR system, so that acceptance letters can be sent out as early as October of the year prior to admission, allowing the student to complete the FAFSA student aid forms and make decisions. Currently, acceptance letters are sent in March and April.

He is also proposing a calendar that allows for the beginning of courses both in August and in January in all programs, except those that for accreditation reasons are not allowed and the establishment of an open admission policy in which the applicants will be admitted to the UPR system once they complete forms and have the required average.

Another idea is to establish in the UPR system an admission policy for the adult population 25 years or older who have not completed a high school degree or on the contrary are interested in pursuing graduate-level degrees.

Not everyone agrees with Saldaña. Alejandra Reyes, a student in UPR Carolina, said that if the college entrance exam is eliminated, students should be allowed to enter the faculty or major they choose directly. She supported the use of the grade point average as criteria because “that way more students who are really needy can enter UPR.”

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