Casimiro Sotelo University’s desperate search for students

After almost three months of having started the pre-enrollment and enrollment period, the new orteguista university extends its deadline to receive students. In 2023 alone, Casimiro Sotelo University canceled the enrollment process twice, due to a lack of students

National University Casimiro Sotelo Montenegro (UNCSM), formerly Central American University (UCA), is desperately trying to get more students to enroll, so its authorities extended the pre-enrollment and enrollment period until Saturday, January 13.

With this new extension, it will be almost three months since the confiscated university began the enrollment process for freshmen and returning students. 

The Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo regime opened the doors of the institution on November 20, 2023, and intended to end the enrollment process on January 6, 2024.

According to a statement by the university’s secretary general, Moisés Ignacio Palacios, the extension of pre-enrollment and enrollment is due to “a high demand”. However, the university has not been able to fill the spots that UCA used to have.

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Last year alone, UNCSM twice failed to enroll students and continue the functions of the university on a regular basis. 

Between August and September 2023, the opening of pre-registration and enrollment was announced twice, but days after the announcement, it was canceled due to a lack of student presence.

Regime trapped students in the university

Casimiro Sotelo University's desperate search for students
Former UCA students did not have the option of choosing another university to continue their studies, after the confiscation on August 17, 2023 | Photo by UNCSM

In order to avoid student transfer, the Ortega-Murillo regime prohibited other universities from receiving students coming from UCA and ordered the cancellation of the enrollment of hundreds of UCA students who had already registered at Universidad Americana (UAM) in August last year.

In addition, the failure to attract students is due to the fact that more than 4,000 UCA students have enrolled at Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas (UCA) in El Salvador and Universidad Rafael Landívar (URL) in Guatemala, according to data from these institutions.

These regional Jesuit universities offered UCA students the opportunity to continue studying online after UCA’s confiscation on August 17, 2023.

It is estimated that more than 7,000 people were studying at former UCA in the different undergraduate, graduate and other programs. These students attended classes on different schedules from Monday to Saturday.

Now, the few students enrolled at UNCSM will only have the possibility to study during the week, as announced in the official channels of the stolen university.

On the other hand, the continuation of studies will only be offered to undergraduate students. Other students who were taking graduate, doctoral, and other courses at the time of the confiscation are still not receiving answers.

The new university is a “mess”

Casimiro Sotelo University's desperate search for students
Several students have complained about not receiving answers to their requests for grades, degrees and other academic procedures | Photos by UNCSM

Hundreds of students who came to the university asking about their grades, degrees and other academic matters, also complained about the lack of organization and responsiveness by the new authorities at UNCSM.

From not knowing the procedures, to not knowing where the bathrooms are located, the new representatives of UNCSM run the university with evident difficulties and with little knowledge about the management of a higher education institution. 

In the absence of solutions and answers, the authorities told students to write down their names and phone numbers so that they could call them when their cases were solved. However, so far many of them remain uncalled, according to different student complaints on UNCSM’s social media.

Most of the Ortega allies now running former UCA come from the National Union of Students of Nicaragua (UNEN), the dictatorship’s repressive branch among universities, and the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN-Managua).

On January 8, Douglas Lara Bustamante was appointed as the new president of UNEN, an entity that will now have an active presence at UNCSM. Among those present at the ceremony were the new de facto authorities of UNCSM, including the new rector, Alejandro Genet.

The information we publish in DIVERGENTES comes from contrasted sources. Due to the situation in the region, many times, we are forced to protect them under pseudonymity or anonymity. Unfortunately, some governments in the region, including the Nicaraguan regime, do not provide information or censor independent media. For this reason, despite requesting it, we cannot rely on official, authorized versions. We resort to data analysis, anonymous internal sources, or limited information from the official media. These are the conditions under which we exercise a profession that, in many cases, costs us our safety and our lives. We will continue to report.