"The university degrees have reached a limit of important quantitative growth and now we need to grow qualitatively, that is, we do not need more but better designed." This was stated yesterday José Manuel Pingarrón, Secretary General of Universities of Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities within the framework of the Days that celebrate the Conference of Social Councils and the Social Council of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) in Gran Canaria under the title The Challenges of the Spanish University System: New Governance, Reputation, Internationalization and Compliance, which brings together national and international experts to analyze the challenges of the university system to adapt to the needs of the global scenario.
"Higher education requires many challenges and what we have done from the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities is to start with what we believe is more urgent now and what society demands. For that we have created three worktables, which are already working and that will be a fundamental part of a future new organic law of universities when it can be presented in Parliament and there may be enough support to move forward, "said Pingarrón.
The first of these tables addresses the situation of Statute of the teaching and research staff, "because it is fundamentally to design the staff of a university of the near future, avoiding important aspects that have given rise to this time of crisis with a major precarization in a good part of the university staff, that is, we are going to design another career model of university teaching staff, "said the Secretary General of Universities.
In this regard, he affirmed that one of the Ministry's main concerns is not the internal control of the teaching and research staff, but the rejuvenation of the staff. "In general, the faculty performs very well with their work, and another thing is that there has been, due to the famous replacement rate, a deterioration of these staff and the workload because it has not been rejuvenated." The average age of professors in Spain is over 60. We must be able to rejuvenate the staff of universities, without avalanches, at a sustained pace, in such a way that the system can assume it and that the new teachers we recruit in the university are good , while we ensure that, the future is assured. "
The second table works on the reform or the proposal of a new Decree Law 1393/2007, which carries out the structure of university education. In this area, one of the fundamental challenges, as José Manuel Pingarrón advanced, is to evaluate the role of quality agencies, both national and regional in the evaluation, accreditation, verification, monitoring of university degrees, and in this sense insisted on improving the quality of university degrees.
"It is evident that we have reached a level of supply that maybe is not necessary, but we are going to try to make it more quality. More quantity of offer no longer makes sense, especially if we are able to reverse the prices of master's degrees , at the prices before the crisis ", and pointed out that one objective of the Ministry is that the prices of the master's degrees are equal to that of the degrees. "One of the problems is that the universities have used the master's degrees also to have resources because they do not have them in another way, but if that is not necessary, it will not be necessary to have almost 4,000 master's degrees either. it can not grow to infinity, "stressed Pingarrón.
Another priority of this table is to study and regulate online teaching. "When the 2007 law came into force, they were not as well implemented, but now they do, and we have to regulate it because it has to be of the same quality as classroom teaching, we are seeing that there is a problem in this regard."
The third of the tables created focuses on enhancing the internationalization of the Spanish university. "There the new project of European university alliances is key, without leaving aside the Ibero-American space of higher education", and advanced the objective that within a few years, a good part of the university students come from Africa.
"These are the urgent challenges we have seen, when this new law comes to fruition, if it comes, we will have to talk about more things, but these three can lead to a development of approval faster than what is an organic law that entails parliamentary pacts Now it seems difficult that a large enough consensus can be reached quickly. "
The state representative also positively assessed the demand for greater autonomy on the part of the universities. "That degree of autonomy must include the co-responsibility of the universities and their governing bodies, and autonomy is necessary to make internal policies for teaching, research and management, which are increasingly efficient".