The Minister of Universities, Manuel Castells, has asked the Council of State (the highest consultative body of the Government) to issue “urgently” an opinion on the draft of the royal decree through which 3-year careers are eliminated. Castells wants to end the so-called ‘3 + 2’ (three years of career and two of masters) implemented by the former Minister of Education of the Popular Party José Ignacio Wert.
The objective of the minister when requesting the opinion is to approve said decree as soon as possible, since the prerequisite for landing it in the Council of Ministers is its passage through the Council of State. Despite Castells’s request, the report will not be made, by
the refusal of the General Commission of Secretaries of State and Undersecretaries. At least, following the times that the minister wanted, so the text will have to wait. Even so, it may not take too long to be approved, since the members of the Council of State stop their activity in August (although not officially); this will be resumed, in any case, shortly.
The draft Royal Decree establishing the organization of university education and the quality assurance procedure establishes, in its draft, the end of three-year courses; that is, those of 180 credits, and their conversion to degrees of four years or 240 credits. «Official university degrees of 180 ECTS credits (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) which, upon the entry into force of this royal decree, have an official character must request a modification of your curriculum to pass this to 240 credits, in a period of two years “, says the text.
Unlike in Europe
In Europe the usual thing is that the degrees last three years because in this way they allow to obtain the title and to go out to the job market faster. The fact that in Spain – where the usual time is four years – is different from the rest of the continent causes problems in creating joint titles with European partners and in reinforcing internationalization. Something that for some experts will now be harmed.
But if there is something that has attracted attention, it has been the radical change of the minister with respect to the formula of ‘3 + 2’. Upon being appointed, he presented this same royal decree, but in it defended the consolidation of the ‘3 + 2’ that now rejects. This formula is the majority in Catalan universities, including the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), in which Castells has taught and in which the former second vice president Pablo Iglesias will start working in September.
As ABC announced, the minister continues to ‘protect’ his university with another decree, that of the creation of university centers, approved by the Council of Ministers on July 27. How does it help the UOC? The decree multiplies by four the student / teacher ratio in online universities.
In practice, eliminating the ‘3 + 2’, however, affects a few degrees: only 24 of a total of 3,880 titles in Spain; that is, only the 0,1%. Added to this is that in our country, according to data from the ministry itself for the 2016-17 academic year, 77.2% of students go to the labor market only with the bachelor’s degree and not with the master’s degree: «The problem here is that there are a ‘titulitis’ that does not exist in other European countries “, say university sources.
When the draft royal decree was presented, the Secretary General for Universities, José Manuel Pingarrón, assured that the ‘3 + 2’ “was an exception in the Spanish university system that gave rise to a series of problems, mainly academic.” Pingarrón added that these degrees are so scarce because “they do not meet the general training requirement established by the Organic Law of Universities.” The other problem that the ministry sees in ‘3 + 2’ is that the master’s degrees were not done due to the high cost of their fees and because with the 3-year degree the students already had a job.
However, where the government sees flaws, others see opportunities. «The ‘3 + 2’ had, at least, a triple objective: in the first place, to homogenize the Spanish undergraduate degrees with the degrees from the countries of the European Higher Education Area, especially those in our environment. Countries like France, Italy or Portugal have three-year bachelor’s degrees and two-year master’s degrees. Secondly, Wert’s decree sought to internationalize the Spanish university system: the only way to guarantee international student mobility is through the configuration of degrees of 180 credits, instead of 240. Finally, the PP wanted to facilitate access to the student labor market by reducing, at least, in one year, undergraduate studies “, defend sources from the previous government.
Wert’s decree was highly criticized in university forums (rectors, professors, students …), until Minister Méndez de Vigo, in 2017, decided by agreement of the Council of Universities to ‘moderate’ the ‘3 + 2’. With this agreement, the criteria to create 180 credit titles, and these became residual.
Since then, there can only be 3-year races when the title has not previously existed. Therefore, the reform planned by Castells does not contribute anything new at the Spanish university since three-year university degrees have been in the minority since 2017.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism