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Chilean president to reform university accreditation agency

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera Wednesday announced that he would abolish the government agency in charge of vetting universities in the wake of a recent bribery and corruption scandal involving top officials.

"We are going to sign a bill to abolish the National Commission for University Accreditation because it did not fulfill its role, it did not guarantee quality or rectitude," he said.

As a result of the commission's failure, "there are universities that are not providing quality education, and it is the government's responsibility to ensure that all accredited universities provide quality education," he added.

Pinera did not say what, if anything, would replace the commission, which became mired in scandal after the agency's top director was accused by Chilean legal authorities of taking bribes in exchange for accrediting several private universities.

Last week, Chilean authorities ordered the closing of Universidad del Mar, home to almost 20,000 students, after detecting a series of irregularities, including fake academic degrees. But the university was accredited after owners paid the commission head millions in bribes.

Chile's education crisis was first highlighted by mass student protests in 2011 that saw the largest demonstrations since anti-government rallies against the military dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet more than two decades ago.

Students have been demanding affordable and better quality public education and the end of government subsidies for private schools.

The education crisis has plagued the conservative government of Pinera, whose handling of the issue has eroded his popularity and marred the careers of several of his top aides.

Two education ministers have been forced to step down. Justice Minister Teodoro Ribera has also resigned recently after he was exposed as having ties to the commission's director.

Source: english.sina.com
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