The Council of Ministers approved this Tuesday the draft of the Organic Law of the University System (LOSU), with which The Government intends to end the precariousness that plagues the campus since the previous crisis. With parliamentary activity about to be suspended for the summer, the parliamentary process is already scheduled for September. The minister, Joan Subirats, maintains that he has the necessary support to carry it forward because his proposal "is better than the alternative, which is to continue with the current law."
More than half of the universities break the law due to the excessive temporality of their professors
The approval of the text by the Government has been delayed compared to what was initially planned due to the change of minister that took place six months ago. The new head, Subirats, announced when he took office that he wanted to give his personal touch to the law, and has included some modifications with respect to the text that he received from Manuel Castells.
In general, the law aims to put an end to the precariousness of associate professors, sets a minimum investment in the University and aspires to revolutionize who goes to the campus and for what: the commitment is to break the "rigidity" of the academic offer The current one –limited to undergraduate and postgraduate degrees– promote continuous training throughout life with more flexible micro-trainings and even flirt with Vocational Training, in addition to increasing the “internationalization” of centers by attracting foreign students and professionals.
The main novelties that the new ministerial team has included in the document are to reduce the maximum temporary work allowed on campus from the current 40% to 8%; the teaching career is simplified, both civil servant and labor, limiting and delimiting the different steps; it is intended to “transparent” the hiring process to break with inbreeding, As Subirats explained in a recent interview with this newspaper; students are recognized rights such as academic strike and the requirement that all new teachers have to take a teacher training course in their first year has been included.
Towards 8% storms
Perhaps the main bet of the university reform –which will replace, if approved, the current LOU, from the end of 2001– is the reduction of the maximum permitted temporary employment to 8%, although doctoral assistants are excluded from this calculation ( the first step in the career). This data is currently at 40% and is not even met in the system as a whole. For this, the problem is in the associate professorship, a figure designed for temporary uses but which has been abused in the last decade due to the financial and contracting problems that the universities have had, which have entrusted their teaching to these professionals at 300 euros per month.
To reduce this temporality, the ministry gives its universities two years to stabilize 25,000 people hired under this figure, which will become indefinite. With this measure, these professionals will leave behind the uncertainty of renewing each year and gain rights such as generating seniority or opting for salary supplements. A quota is also reserved for them in the hiring processes and they will be able to access, depending on their educational level and accreditation, the university career. Other issues related to job insecurity, such as wages and working conditions, remain outside the law to be negotiated in the near future through the long-awaited Statute of Research Teaching Staff (PDI).
In addition, the LOSU simplifies the teaching career by simplifying the hiring figures and the passage from one to another to make the career more predictable: there will be an assistant professor doctor (for a maximum of six years and with 180 teaching hours per year so that of them and can also investigate), full professor and professor, both in the official version (except the assistant doctors, who cannot be) and work.
The other big bet is to give transparency to the hiring processes to reduce university inbreeding, which means that 77% of university professors work in the same place where the thesis was taken. To do this, the text proposes creating a centralized record of the public offers that are coming out to facilitate access, that the selection commissions be made up of a majority of members from outside the convening university and that these be selected by lottery and not by direct appointment.
More funding and different training
The draft law also contemplates setting the financing of the Spanish University System (SUE) at a minimum of 1% of GDP. Currently this figure is 0.7% and the Government will have to convince the autonomous communities of this rise. The law itself gives one year of margin for these negotiations to begin.
In addition, for the first time part of the financing of the centers will be linked to objectives. The bill says that "these objectives will be linked, among others, to the improvement of teaching, research, including the Open Science and Citizen Science programs, the transfer and exchange of knowledge, innovation, training throughout of life, internationalization, inter-university cooperation and participation in projects and networks, gender equality, recognition of diversity and universal accessibility”.
Another of the great changes that the Government intends to introduce is the inclusion of new student profiles on campus. Subirats explains that the fall in the birth rate is going to cause a 20% decrease in the population group between 18 and 25 years of age. He adds the minister that the universities are very limited. To reverse this situation, Universities want to expand the use of their centers to create new training modalities that attract people over 30 years of age, "including microcredentials, microdegrees or other short-term programs."
In this line of expansion of the type of student body, the law opens the door for people who do not meet the prerequisites to study a degree but have the necessary work experience to do so (which they will have to accredit by means of some type of test) can do so . It also intends to delve into the "internationalization" of the system, attracting more foreign students, with a special mention for Europeans and Latin Americans.
Finally, changes are also introduced in the governance of universities. The most striking is that the obligation for rectors to be professors is abolished and their mandate is also limited to six non-renewable years, with the dual objective of giving them more time to develop their projects and also being freed from the temptation to take steps to ensure his re-election.