Subirats asks the university community for time: "Let me make this law a little mine"

The Ministry of Universities had marked the end of January to renegotiate with the rectors, teachers and students the new Organic Law of the University System (LOSU), but the change of minister ―from Manuel Castells to Joan Subirats on December 20 – disrupts initial plans. In his first meeting with the press, Subirats has declared: “We are committed to approving the law in the first half of 2023. If we consider that the processing of an organic law can take between six and seven months of margin, I would ask the actors that allow me to make this law a little mine. May I have time to calibrate and assess ”. Castells already advocated seeking consensus after an open confrontation with the rectors, who refused to issue a report on the LOSU considering that it was not finished.

Subirats has not even wanted to detail what parts of the law he is willing to change to satisfy the university community: “It cannot be a law that exhausts all regulations. It has to be a basic law, that there are adaptations to different realities. Autonomy, diversity and equality have to be the key elements that must be safeguarded ”.

“I do not promise to say when the Council of Ministers will go to the second reading,” said the emeritus professor of the Autonomous University of Barcelona. They will first dialogue with the university community and then they will meet with the parties most favorable to approving the law: “The parliamentary debate can serve to fine-tune some things, but it is clear that we are going to talk [con los grupos parlamentarios]”. The Catalan universities, and this has been transmitted to the nationalist parties, want that the 3 + 2 system (three years of career and two of master’s degrees) not end, as approved in a decree of 2021 and Subirats does not seem willing to reverse that decision of Manuel Castells. Remember that European degrees, in collaboration with other community universities, allow you to continue with the 3 + 2 model.

Subirats, which intends to approve a law on artistic education with the Ministry of Education, has not only wanted to focus on the LOSU but on other objectives of its mandate at the time of transformation of technological, environmental and social inequalities challenges. He considers that “we are not in a time of change, but rather in a change of era”, and believes that universities have not paid enough attention to lifelong learning, focusing on the target population between 18 and 24 years old. to go down, when the European Union has asked governments to focus on these lessons at a time of constant change, in which it is not known how artificial intelligence will affect jobs (also the most qualified). Spain, he recalled, is at the bottom of Europe because it has an anomalous structure: 40% of university students, 20% with non-university post-compulsory studies (Vocational Training) and 40% who have at most primary education. While in the EU the percentages are 40%, 40% and 20%, respectively.

Subirats, who has already met with the ministers of Economy, Labor, Science and Education, is not concerned about the level of research, but he does believe that it is necessary to help this science reach not only companies, but with open knowledge to the local environment or NGOs. And he believes that we must rethink what is the value of presence in teaching – as the pandemic has shown – when we are going to go to a mixed world with virtuality. The minister believes that universities and autonomous communities also have to study in depth the mental problems of young people who are going through bad times due to lack of socialization.

Back with selectivity

In January, the debate on the homogenization of access to the university always arises – the old selectivity – because the differences between communities are great. A table – in which the autonomies, the ministries of Education and Universities and the universities are present – will work on this issue and Subirats has been open to dialogue: “Three things must be combined: the autonomy of the universities, the autonomy of communities and recognition of diversity; and, at the same time, you have to be responsible for the equality system. In other words, I believe that the system cannot be either excessively centralized or atomized. Operating conditions must be given that allow a person to access the university with even conditions. Do they have to be exactly the same? We have to see them ”. This idea is shared by the conference of rectors (CRUE) and a table was already formed before the pandemic.

Asked about the homologation of titles, which currently has a two-year delay, and which was supposed to change in a short time, his chief of staff Marta Cruells answered. Regarding the new decree that will speed up the procedures up to six months in the processing period, Cruells has assured that the text is “just at the moment in which the ministries have to report on the decree and then go to the Council of State, it is practically at the end of the process ”. Meanwhile, Universities have launched a “crash plan” with more staff that is digitizing the application process that until 2021 was manual.

Finally, regarding hypothetical problems to teach classes in Spanish in Catalonia, Subirats recalled that there is academic freedom and recalled his first years as a professor at the University of Barcelona, ​​when “the difficult thing was to be able to teach in Catalan”.

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