In 1918, the so-called Liminar Manifesto emerged as a Declaration of Great Reform at the University of Córdoba. However, despite the many aspirations that existed in the historical moment, in many academic cloisters, more than a century ago, little has changed. The old paradigms are still present in teaching methods, as is the distancing of some universities from the social realities that exist in different Latin American countries.
The pandemic ended up showing that many universities were not, and still are not, ready for an intelligent and programmed transition towards virtual teaching environments, at least bimodally, nor ready to implement teleworking modalities in some jobs in a highly technological, interconnected world where it also improves the quality of life of employees, reduces car traffic, and cooperates with the environment.
Unfortunately, in many cases, the power elite forget the essence of the university and its main actors: the students. In some universities, the government group has become a kind of “political party” facing the government in power, and in this process, the course and institutional image have disappeared, rejecting the important role in the new and creative role of professionals in different areas and careers in the university (III Regional Conference of Higher Education, Córdoba 2018).
Centralism in university governance has historically been the norm in Latin America. Costa Rica did not escape this. At least three of the five public universities that access the Financing Agreement of the Special Fund for Higher Education (FEES) continue to concentrate most of their budgets in the university metropolis and allocate a very small budget to the regional headquarters. It is reasonable to acknowledge that an effort has begun to promote regionalization, but it is weak, scattered, and insufficient.
Regionalization must be understood from the plans that allow contextualizing the characteristics, needs, and potential of the areas where the university is located. According to this orientation, in the peripheral regions, the university-business-government link (triple helix) should be strengthened, and the close link with the market and links between various local productive structures should be encouraged. Although this should be the natural horizon of today’s reality, ideological doubt persists in many university cloisters that have satanized the link between the university and the market. It is absurd because universities train professional staff precisely for the market, which in many cases is despised, but through their taxes, they make it possible to finance higher education itself.
It should be remembered that the Latin American university was born as an elite institution and survived until the end of the 20th century, mostly as an urban university for men, mostly white, and with high resources. (Claudio Rama, 2016). In line with this idea, the universities of Latin America, since the colonization of Europe and due to the influence of Napoleon, have adopted centralism in their management, a trend that is difficult to break. The intramural university typical of the Hispanic heritage continues to penetrate in many cases, where the university campuses, requesting a false autonomy of the university—not understood, of course—became a kind of new medieval fiefdoms. This is a pity, because universities in the modern world should be open and free in every way.
Modern universities must be flexible, react more quickly to changes experienced in society, have less top-down academic management, reduce bureaucracy that does not create additional management value, have a less heavy administrative structure, and invest more in regional peripherals, among others.
In Costa Rica, it cannot be denied that the public university does an extraordinary job in teaching, research, and social action; however, it is little known to the majority of the population, due to the lack of communication with the rest of society, that it has allowed many of its detractors to advance their criticism of his relevance, threatening his safety.