UNED is unique in ensuring equal access to University
Since Alejandro Tiana was appointed Secretary of State for Education, Ricardo Mairal has replaced him as Acting Rector of the UNED and, now, this Professor of English Language and Linguistics wishes to consolidate his position with a "modern and avant-garde" project.
Convinced that the UNED is "unique to ensure equality in access to high quality university higher education", Mairal is presented to the rector elections proposing a revision and update of the catalog of degrees or enhancing the figure of the tutor, notes in an interview with Efe.
QUESTION: Why do you decide to run for UNED? How has your experience as acting president been?
ANSWER: All my life and my vocation of public service are oriented by humanism and university values. I am a convinced enthusiast of the differential value of the UNED, which makes it unique to ensure equal access to high quality university higher education, as well as the enormous opportunities and challenges that are presented in the current context. There is no other institution similar in the public or private field by implantation and by social vocation.
These last five years as vice chancellor, first of research and later of teaching and planning, have allowed me to make an exact diagnosis of needs and challenges, of their weaknesses and, above all, of their great strengths. It is an exciting challenge and I want to express this new hope with a project of joint and integrating action for the UNED. This vision of the future, realistic, with my feet on the ground, is the main motivation for raising my candidacy for rector.
As acting director, my work has continued to be that of commitment to the university community and to verify the great human team we have. I have always thought that the most important thing in institutions are people.
Q: Feminism is booming. Do you feel a lot of competition because two women come to lead the UNED?
A: Gender equality is one of the great pending issues in our societies. It is a pride for the UNED that two women compete for the Rectorate. I believe that values such as pluralism, equity, and justice should govern our lives and our institutions.
The UNED is an example of this; With our singularities, we are an instrument of equality, a social engine that is transformative and cohesive. As they are values that I also share, I do not feel any special competence.
Q: What are the main changes you think UNED needs?
A: Expand and diversify the academic and research offer of high quality, modern and professional at the service of our society. My candidacy represents a modern and avant-garde project, of new ideas based on the great opportunities and challenges offered by the digital revolution and innovation, without losing our identity.
Recovering the illusion in the UNED is my purpose and I intend to involve all those who integrate the university community.
Q: The UNED has begun to modernize the academic offer.
A: My proposal is aimed at reviewing and updating the catalog of qualifications to adapt them to the demand and training needs of today's society and to be sustainable and competitive in a bid for modernization, interdisciplinarity and innovation.
I will promote the implementation of new postgraduate studies, double degrees and combined degrees.
Q: Minister Pedro Duque announced recently that the status of the tutor was to be renewed. What changes do teachers need in the UNED?
A: The first face-to-face contact of our students with the UNED is with our tutors, they are the image and an irreplaceable instrument in our work. His figure is indispensable for his support of teaching, accompaniment and monitoring of student learning.
We will review the regulatory framework and we will encourage the Government to modify the Royal Decree 2005/1986 and all the related regulations so that the tutorial work as merit for university teaching staff accreditations is officially recognized.
The development of a new Organic Law of Universities can be a window of opportunity to regulate a figure for the tutor.
Regarding the teaching staff in general, it is necessary to find again the enthusiasm and joy of this group. Find financing formulas for generational change, the attraction and retention of talent and the de-bureaucratization of administrative processes.
Another objective is to promote and strengthen, even more, the financing plans of the research and prioritize the transfer of knowledge.
Q: How to make the UNED the reference university in Spain and abroad?
A: It is the task of the entire university community to claim the space that UNED should occupy in society and in the whole of the cultural and educational foreign action in Spain. Our university with its network of Associated Centers throughout Spain plays a decentralizing and territorial cohesive role that is very necessary at this moment in our country.
Pilar Rodríguez Veiga