Justice annuls a 'finger' in the award of a teaching position at a public university

When José Mateos saw the score he had obtained in a call for a place at the University of Murcia (UMU) he decided that he was going to file a complaint. Mateos had been an associate professor in the Department of Foundations of the Legal and Constitutional Order of that same university for years when he left the position, in 2020, as an assistant professor of Constitutional Law. He introduced himself. Once resolved, the surprise came: his score was lower than he expected based on what the summons requested.

The Contentious and Administrative Court number 5 of Murcia agreed with him. In the sentence, consulted by elDiario.es, the magistrate agrees to grant higher grades than those initially given by the UMU for the merits and reminds the university that the scores of a merit contest have little (although there is always something ) of subjective and that are highly standardized. "The regulated scope, controllable by the jurisdiction, is not the same in an opposition as in a merit contest, as is the one reviewed here. Thus, while in the exercises of an opposition there is a wide margin of technical discretion, without prejudice to the regulated elements determined in the call, in a contest of merits, insofar as it is supposed to be a mere collation or verification (...) it is a strongly regulated area".

Under this premise, the court reviewed the scores given to Mateos, corrected several of them and ended up giving him 95.66 points, a score that made him beat the other applicant for the position. Therefore, following the verdict, all previous resolutions were annulled "because they were contrary to law", in addition to "the economic and administrative rights generated from the date of the contested resolution." It seemed that the position was finally his.

But less than 24 hours after the summons for the trial, in February 2022, the University of Murcia offered a contract doctor position for the department, a superior position that de facto "invalidates" the position of assistant professor, so that the university amortizes the position that Mateos won in court. It is usual in the University that a doctor's assistant position is replaced, over time, by one of contracted doctor. "But the normal thing is that several years pass between one and the other and in this case only one passed," recalls Mateos, who assures that it is a position created to place the candidate who he surpassed after the judicial review: "It is very It is common for places to be made to measure for the favorites of the universities", he assures.

In any case, Mateos decided to also apply for this new position, but the result of this second call was even more shocking for him: he got the minimum score (2.5 out of 10) and in the evaluation it was considered that he did not have merits in Constitutional right. Faced with this situation, he has decided to judicially appeal the call and the award of the position, both pending trial date. For now, he continues as an associate professor.

The University of Murcia and the corresponding department have preferred not to make statements about the case when asked by this newspaper.

For Mateos, the last position has been created and provided to a person closer to the department to fill the position that he won through the courts. "There's a clear conservative mainstream," he says. Furthermore, like researcher organizations such as FJI, sees these practices as "a structural and inbred problem of Spanish universities". The university professor regrets that, in his case, they have put "a thousand obstacles" on him and that as an associate professor they have given him "the minimum teaching hours that corresponded", in addition to being "excluded from any research project".

With the idea of ​​putting an end to these problems, the research organizations ask for independence in the selection process. In this sense the reform of the Organic Law of the University System that is being processed by the Ministry of Universities contemplates that the selection boards must have a majority of members from outside the university, who will also be chosen by lottery. But the law is still pending and at the moment "the places are always received by the favorites of the people of the house and thus it is not possible to have a quality teaching university system," criticizes Mateos.

The plaintiff teacher had already had legal problems before with the university. In 2007, during the context of the implementation of the bolonia plan, Mateos was a fellow. He participated in a student movement and had a blog in which he criticized the actions of the rector of the UMU, whom he considers close to the PP in the region. The president of the Student Council opened a disciplinary file against him and he was expelled from the university for a year.

The one who was president of the Student Council denounced Mateos for a violation of the right to honor in the criticism of his blog and asked for financial compensation. The Provincial Court of Murcia annulled the complaint under a sentence dated 2013, giving prevalence to the right to freedom of expression. The Superior Court of Justice of Murcia annulled the expulsion of Mateos from the UMU due to his criticism of the rector and the Student Council. In the minutes, consulted by this newspaper, they replace it with a warning for a minor offense.

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