The Council of Universities – which brings together the minister with those responsible for the campuses (50 out of 87 of the public) – has been held this Thursday in a virtual way in a very tense environment, according to sources from the ministry and the conference of rectors (CRUE). ). The ministry summoned its members to discuss the approval of the Organic Law of Universities (LOSU) and has suffered a full-blown sit-in by the rectors. It has been staged with a single intervention of these, that of its president José Carlos Gómez Villamandos, who has refused to allow the Council of Universities to issue a mandatory report to approve the law. The CRUE considers that the final document is not on the table and has proposed that it be postponed to the next session with a text that they consider conclusive.
In parallel, the student associations that attend the meetings (CREUP and CEUNE) have called for “academic breaks” for this Thursday that have not had a great impact until this afternoon – the largest in Extremadura, according to the protesters -, although in the large cities has been summoned for this afternoon. And on Friday a meeting is held with ERC – the partner that should support the law in the vote in the plenary session of Congress – in the midst of an environment not very conducive to the agreement, since the Catalan Government of which this party is a part demands more autonomy management for its campuses and has submitted 100 pages of allegations to the LOSU. Catalan universities ―which share its criteria with the Generalitat―, for their part, criticized the “excessive regulation” of the bill during a debate held last week at the University of Barcelona.
Gómez Villamandos, according to an account of the meeting that the CRUE has sent to the press, has shown his “frustration” because he assures that they awaited the text with “optimism and enthusiasm” and maintains that the LOSU project “did not it is innovative enough for the level of socioeconomic transformation that Spain requires ”. Ministry sources acknowledge his disappointment. The relationship between Castells and the CRUE has been very good in these almost two years of the coalition government: they only had a strong clash due to the face-to-face exams last January. The sit-in of the rectors to Minister José Ignacio Wert in 2012 – they got up from the table because he refused to discuss the cuts – is the only moment of great tension that had been experienced between the CRUE and the current government in the last decade. The conference is always very restrained in its statements, as it represents a very disparate spectrum of public and private universities.
The ministry, on the contrary, believes that the rectors do not look to the future because they have once again rejected the government’s plan to end precarious salaries on campuses. Its intention is to reserve 15% of the new places for associate professors who have read the thesis, but the CRUE does not want there to be any quotas and relies on university autonomy. “A legal reservation for access to public employment must be justified in objective elements of discrimination or in the existence of differentiated specific merits, something that does not happen in this case,” defended the CRUE in its allegations.
The CRUE, through the mouth of Gómez Villamandos, has also demanded that each university be able to set its standards in the race to be rector. Until now, only professors can be, and the ministry wants professors with 18 years of research, 15 years of teaching and four years in a management position to apply. The Government wants common standards because it believes that if not, each campus will make a suit to suit it.
The CRUE is in favor of the universities being able to elect their rectors not by universal suffrage, but through a body in which all levels are represented. The initial idea of the ministry was for a group of between 20 and 30 people – 30% external – to choose directly from a list of candidates (in the event that the university changes its statutes, it is not mandatory), but in their allegations they rectors complained: “It would have made more sense if the conditions and composition to set up a committee of this type had been left entirely in the hands of the university.” Finally, this route of choice that displeased the unions and students was eliminated in a new version of the law, so ministry sources are now surprised that they want to return to the starting point: “At no time did the rectors do so. they have defended ”.
This Wednesday the General Conference on University Policy was held virtually, which sits the minister with the regional councilors, and the popular ones took the opportunity to ask for the withdrawal of the LOSU, a law that, they believe, does not have sufficient consensus. All, as claimed by the CRUE, demand more funding. Hours before, the Government had managed to carry out its law of university coexistence with the votes of the nationalists and Teruel Existe, but with the frustration of Thursday that joy has evaporated.
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