SANTIAGO, April 23 (Xinhua) -- The Chilean government on Monday unveiled a new financing system for university students, who had staged demonstrations for affordable and quality higher education.
Education Minister Harald Beyer said under the proposed bill the government would finance both public and private universities, and the banks will no longer be involved.
The government would also set up a special agency to manage the student loans at a 2-percent annual rate, said Beyer, adding that the low-interest loans would benefit 90 percent of university students.
The move came after students demonstrated in the capital over the weekend as part of ongoing protests in demand of better and affordable higher education.
Beyer said the bill would be presented to parliament immediately after he met with President Sebastian Pinera earlier in the day.
"We have insisted on guaranteeing scholarships for 60 percent of Chile's poorest students," said the minister.
The students' demands were initially dismissed by the government of the pro-business Pinera, who once described education as "consumer goods."
In what has been called as the Chilean Winter, young Chileans took to the streets, occupied school buildings and boycotted classes. The demonstrations were the largest since the end of Augusto Pinochet's military regime in 1990.