When the Spanish bureaucracy steals years of your life: "It is a Kafkaesque impotence"

As the second hand ticked and March 8 reared its head on the calendar, the biologist’s chances Kászon Kovács of presenting themselves to the oppositions of secondary school teacher were reduced. When the new day came it’s over. Kovács probably won’t get another chance for the next two years to get his coveted position as a Biology teacher, so he’ll have to figure out what to do with his life, after he’s spent the last part of it studying. . The Hungarian raised in Denmark, but settled in Spain for 20 years, with a Spanish wife and three children, will have to decide whether to return to Scandinavia.

“I am not ambitious, what I want is to be a biology teacher in a public center, not go to the Moon,” he explained to El Confidencial, just a few days after his final disappointment. “But the system won’t let me and the feeling I have is of Kafkaesque impotence, because the answer it can arrive tomorrow or in a year“. Kovács’s file is one of tens of thousands that accumulate in the Ministry of Universities waiting to carry out an homologation (or equivalence, which should be faster) of his university degree obtained abroad. In his case in the European Union itself.

“They have told me that it could take nine months, and that after the sixth I can complain”

Kovács requested it more than two years ago, a period in his opinion more than enough to have received a response, since it is essential to appear for the oppositions. The only news he has had has been a small change in the status of the petition. From “received” to “pending approval by ANECA”, the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation, which he has to give his approval. When he went to the Ministry of Universities, he did not get any clear answer, more than security guard understandingaccustomed to seeing similar cases every day, and the promise of the come back tomorrow (to look at the portal).

“I have been told that it may take three, six, nine or more monthsbut from the sixth year I can complain,” he explains. What is clear to him is that it is already too late for him, so he is considering other options. “I am going to investigate the possibilities of going to work in Denmark for a few months, but my number one option is to try to get a teaching job at a subsidized or private school”, he adds. “I think I fit in with what the Spanish educational system wants: I have an interesting profile, I speak several languages, I have worked in the company private, I know about science and dissemination, I’m looking forward to teaching things that I like…”.

Joan Subirats, Minister of Universities. (EFE/Fernando Alvarado)

After what Manuel Castells promised a review of the system during the pandemic to solve the problem of the shortage of medical professionals, facilitating the incorporation of international professionals, last November the Government approved a decree by which it undertook to review the requests within a maximum period of six months, lightening the processes so on-line. Ciudadanos had calculated that the number of requests to be resolved amounted to 32,000, although the Ministry confirmed at the beginning of the year that the number was 39,004 when finished 2022.

The number of applications has increased in recent years, creating a bottleneck in which the number of cases to be resolved only increased. Joan Subirats, Minister of Universities, assured at the end of last year that of the 4,500 equivalencies received since November, 500 had been approved almost automatically. However, many of those who were hoping for an early resolution have yet to see their problem fixed. The confidential He has contacted the Ministry of Universities, but has not received a response.

A banner in front of the Ministry

Who has recently obtained his homologation is the pianist edward delanywhich at the beginning of this year was planted every other day, at the entrance of the Ministry of Universities with a banner that read “My name is Eduardo Delany, I have been waiting for 32 months for the homologation of a degree obtained in the EU and I have been three years preparing some oppositions to which I cannot present myself. SOS“.

Delany’s banner. (on loan)

His case was picked up in media like The reasonand two weeks ago he got his recognition on time, just a few days before the deadline. “The article had a lot of repercussion, and five days before the deadline, I received the approval,” he explains. During those weeks he received a large amount of feedback of people who were in the same situation as him, “desperate”.

“I went to the Ombudsman in his Town, he told me that he was aware of the situation, but it was useless,” explains Delany, who, like most of the interviewees, turns to the Czech writer to summarize his situation. “When I went with my banner I came across the giant building of the Ministry of Economy and I was sure that it was not going to give me a solution, it was like literally running into a wallsomething Kafkaesque, really, because I was impotent to know that I was facing a bureaucratic problem that I didn’t know if it had a solution”.

“I have had to work five nights a week because I did not have the title approved”

A similar case is that of Nicoletta, a 53-year-old Romanian woman who submitted in 2017 an application for recognition for her title as a Primary Education teacher. The process, six years later, has not yet gone ahead, but the professional opportunity that had arisen for him has long since disappeared. “It has done me a lot of damage, because I have had to work five nights a week because I did not have the title approved, if I had achieved it, I would have had another life“, Explain.

In her case, the Ministry asked her, after months of waiting, to provide the document of linguistic competence that she assures that she provided from the beginning, and later, after a year and a half, another requirement with an official certificate of hours studied in the subjects that make up his study plan, but he still has no answer. She also presented on July 5 of last year an approval for her Social Worker title, but in eight months, on her website it only appears that documents will be studied.

Some oppositions in the Region of Murcia. (EFE/Marcial Guillen)

“I have submitted several follow-up requests and have tried to contact them, but it is impossible“, Add.

The irrational bureaucracy

Another example that Nicoletta provides, unrelated to validations, nicely sums up how impersonal bureaucracy can be. When she arrived in Spain more than twenty years ago, she applied for a residence card. Her petition was rejected because her first name, last name, and year of birth matched those of another Romanian woman who had been deported, but not her date of birth or the name of her parents. “I had to go to court to prove that it wasn’t me, but it was something that it could be verified by simply pressing a key“He adds. Several of these victims agree to complain about the treatment received by officials.

“I am missing a document but nobody knows what it is”

Although Stephanie Heredia33 years old, is also having problems with the homologation of his Pharmacy university degree requested in 2019, the reason is different from that of his colleagues and, therefore, even harder to solve. In his case, they request an extra document that no one really knows what it is, so his request has been paralyzed since last year. “At the University of Granada they told me after the Aneca report that I could not enroll because I needed another paper,” he explains.

Then he began his pilgrimage to try to find out what it was. “I called the Ministry of Education and they told me that they could not tell me anything, I went in person to the Granada headquarters and they did not know of any extra documents, they told me that they had no information“, he explains. “I can’t enroll until I have the supposed paper. I have sent emails to the Ministry of Education asking what document I need, I have sent them four face-to-face letters plus all the requests on-line“. He still doesn’t know it.

Opposition exam. (EFE/Ballesteros)

“How do I ask the university to enroll me for a document that I don’t know if it exists?”he wonders. She has already lost the September and February calls, and if the process is delayed, she could spend another year without being able to have her practices recognized. “My problem is that I came to study, I fell in love, I have my family here and I can’t contribute financially to it because I don’t have the degree.” According to the Ministry’s page, her request should be resolved in three months, but as she explains, she hasn’t heard anything new since June of last year.

A race against time

Last fall, the decree 889/2022 of October 18, which establishes the conditions and procedures for approval, with the aim of consolidating “agile and efficient processes, supported by the intense and global digitization of all procedural steps, making the most of available information and communication technologies “. The objective is that the instruction and resolution time “do not exceed six months” and that “at all times the citizen can check the status of the processing of their application.”

“Although they have promised six months, nobody knows what will happen”

In other words, what the aforementioned cases have not been able to benefit from and, therefore, continue to raise doubts that their process will be resolved within the promised period. The previous decree 967/2014 estimated that the response should be given in two years, but even those deadlines were not met. One of the problems they have encountered is that, except in a few cases, such as the Movement of Immigrant Psychologists, they were not organized, so their efforts have been individual and dilutedalthough that may change soon. As Delany recalls, “even though they have promised six months, until time passes, nobody knows what will happen.”

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Deborah Acker

I write epic fantasy; self-published via KDP. Devoted dog mom to my 10 yr old GSD, Shadow! DM not a priority; slow response at best #amwriting #author.

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