The government presents an 'open' university law to avoid criticism

The Minister of Universities, Joan Subirats, presented a little over a week ago the draft of the Organic Law of the University System (Losu), a norm that lowers the requirements to be rector, gives more power to the student body and leaves it to the communities, and not only the state agency, those that evaluate the merits to accredit professors and professors.

The government presents an 'open' university law to avoid criticism

The Minister of Universities, Joan Subirats, presented a little over a week ago the draft of the Organic Law of the University System (Losu), a norm that lowers the requirements to be rector, gives more power to the student body and leaves it to the communities, and not only the state agency, those that evaluate the merits to accredit professors and professors. The Losu is better known as the 'Castells law'; It has been baptized with the name of Subirats's predecessor, Manuel Castells, who approved it in the first round in the Council of Ministers but left it in the drawer when he resigned last year for not being able to carry it forward. From the new draft it seems that Subirats does not want another norm so contested by rectors, students, social councils and unions.

For this reason, although he took up the Castells draft, he made a decision to avoid headaches. Which? "Make an open rule," point out academic sources who have communicated with the minister in recent days. That is, the less it goes into punctilious issues, the more difficult it will be to criticize it. By opening its hand so much to university autonomy, it is difficult for the university community to find something to object to. The rectors, moreover, have always defended said autonomy. The problem is that, at the same time, the minister has given rise to a rule that by saying so little "will make every university become a battlefield because of him," criticizes a rector who prefers not to give the name of the.

This occurs especially in the case of the election to the rector. The Castells rule set a series of requirements to be one: three six-year research periods, three five-year teaching periods and four years of university management experience in a one-person position. Now, on the other hand, “research merits” and “university management experience in a single position determined by the Statutes” are requested without specifying. According to a rector, who did not want to give his name either, "this law will allow the diversification of universities, so that some will get better and others worse." Now it will be up to each one to demand the requirements from potential rectors. "It leaves issues in the hands of the statutes, so it could happen that in some universities rectors are appointed who are not sufficiently prepared," says the same source. Ricardo Rivero, rector of the University of Salamanca, points out that the rector "could be anyone, which degrades the figure." Another rector points out that with this new wording "there is a drop in requirements that was to be expected," he agrees. «The requirement of being a professor and having a teaching career for me is very necessary, but now it is requested that the conditions be marked by the statutes; that will generate first-class and second-class universities”, points out Enrique Sanz Giménez-Rico, rector of the University of Comillas. On the other hand, Amaya Mendikoetxea, rector of the Autonomous University of Madrid, applauds the measure. "Universities will know how to establish regulations that ensure that their rector has the necessary authority and experience."

More unanimity in the opinions generated the other novelty of the norm. This is a new section in the article on the teaching function, which says: "The binding participation of the student body must be guaranteed throughout the process of creating study plans and teaching guides, as well as in their implementation process." The teaching guides are the ones that define topics and exams. Asked by ABC, Subirats said that this will be negotiated and that understanding that "binding" is that the students will decide the exams "would be an abusive interpretation of the word binding." In any case, the law establishes a participation that was not previously contemplated in it. "It seems excessive to me," says Rivero. Jorge Sainz, Professor of Economics at the Rey Juan Carlos University, assures that "it is important to have the participation of students, but as defined in the draft, it can collide with academic freedom." What has not been contemplated, and it was a request from the students, has been to increase their percentage in the representative bodies. Subirats has maintained 25% in the cloister, and 10% in the governing council, and his weight in the elections for rector has not been determined. “Why don't they want to increase their weight in the governing bodies but they do clearly express 51% of the teaching staff?” asked Nicolás Fernández, president of the Coordinator of Student Representatives of Public Universities (Creup). The unions, for their part, are not entirely satisfied: «The new Losu deregulates important aspects and becomes a minimum law. This causes the risk that diversity prevails over equality and a minimum common mark disappears. The governance reform that Europe requested is abandoned and all regulation is left in the hands of each university and each community, ”denounces Ramón Caballero, vice president of the national Education sector of the CSIF union. For his part, Manuel Ortega, head of University and Research at UGT, said that he values ​​"changes that avoid confrontation by relaxing requirements and favoring university and community autonomy, but the reduction to 20% of temporary employment is higher than signed with the unions». he regretted it.


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