In Cuba, university education is “free,” as are all mandatory studies. It’s free in the sense that it is unnecessary to pay with money for the years of coursework received. However, once someone graduates, it’s necessary to repay with work for the knowledge acquired in the classroom. This is known as fulfilling social service.
Three years must be dedicated to this repayment for a university education. In the case of males, their two years of mandatory military service are included in this repayment. This can also be done by females; though for them military service is voluntary.
These years of social service must be strictly fulfilled; otherwise, the university degree received at graduation has no value. That would be like tossing years of university study in the garbage.
Social Service must be served in a job position related to one’s field of study. The student can either choose their position (if there is an opening where they want to work) or they can be placed by the university and ministry(s) under which their field of study belongs.
For example, the Higher Institute of Art is under the Ministry of Higher Education, like all of the country’s universities, as well as the Ministry of Culture. Similarly, my faculty (Audiovisual Media) must direct its recently graduates to any of the audiovisual producers in the country, such as the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT), the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC), Mundo Latina, and Educational Cinematography.
In some cases, recent graduates must undergo training that can last for months or even years, depending on the degree of complexity of the assigned task or the tutor’s evaluation of the new worker’s progress.
Other cases, though, don’t require a training period due to the characteristics of the work performed and the field studied. In these cases, students have the possibility of carrying out pre-professional work-study while in school, which helps guarantee their ability to perform work effectively once they graduate.
Social service is a duty that all university graduates must fulfill, since this is how they repay society for providing them their professional instruction.
However, there are youth who are not interested in making this repayment. They either want to emigrate to another country upon graduation or simply are opposed to working for the State and “working for Fidel” (or now Raul).