The public universities of the province will approve their budgets for the next fiscal year this coming week. On Monday the Social Council convened the Miguel Hernández from Elche and on Tuesday the one in Alicante. They will be contained budgets, although not recessive, which nevertheless will not be able to respond to the great challenges that both centers have to face. Why? Because there is a new organic law of universities freshly cooked, although it is not yet in force, and to which it will be necessary to adapt later. A law whose latest text has generated the unanimous protest of the rectors and whose intellectual father, Manuel Castells (of the quota of United We Can, Common version, Colau faction, excuse the mess), he has just resigned from the position of minister that in reality he was never able to assume to be relieved by a procès activist with everything to prove on the matter for whose performance will travel from Barcelona to Madrid. And because, with regard to the Valencian Community, we still do not have a financing plan, more urgent if possible now because that new law on Universities that is about to be delivered requires the contributions of the autonomies, which are the ones that have been transferred the competences, for the fulfillment of its provisions, some as ambitious as the one that envisages practically ending the eventuality in the teaching staff, now very high. Despite this, this new financing model for public universities in the Community does not seem to be among the priorities of the Consell.
And it is that if there is something that draws attention in these convulsive times of the covid it is precisely the absence of the University from the political agenda. Here we talk about digitization and innovation, most of the time wielded as ends in themselves and not as mere tools of transformation. Or you talk about sustainability, which is also a classic. They are the mantras of the moment, that every politician (be it mayor, head of the Consell, president of the Government or aspiring to any of these positions) introduces in one of every two paragraphs in all his speeches. That is fashionable. But talking about higher education, no. The experts in political marketing do not consider that it is something that sells, what a roll. In any case, if we talk about universities, what the current codes command is that it is to criticize them, both for their alleged inbreeding and for their alleged lack of connection with what society demands, a fallacy to hide what is actually it means: that they do not respond sufficiently to what the market demands, which is not the same as what society needs, no matter how much neoliberal doctrine wants to convince us otherwise.
The UA and the UMH will approve budgets next week that will not allow them to face the important challenges they face due to the lack of adequate funding
Argues the sociologist Colin Crouch that in today’s “post-democratic” societies, the first line of attack on the public sector is always to promote a majority opinion that discredits it. In order to substitute the public for the private (I say substitute, not finding a point of coexistence, which is reasonable), what must be done is to establish the conviction that the public is inefficient. So it is said, for example, that the University is a refuge for lazy people (but almost no important advance has come from someone who had not passed through their classrooms sooner or later), a factory for the unemployed (but the employment rate among young people does not graduates in Spain is 23% and that of those who did study at the University is 64%) and an island incapable of responding to the needs of companies in the framework of the new economy (but they never put their finger on the wound of the low salaries that most of these companies are trying to pay young people whose training has cost us all an kidney and who become a workforce as qualified as it is miserably paid). The public university has been the largest social elevator in democracy. Degrading it instead of promoting its renewal is a serious irresponsibility.
That is the general context in which we are. But the two universities in the province also have problems of their own, which will be exacerbated as of this year when the one in Alicante stops receiving the extraordinary funds that it received up to now due to the so-called historical debt (the original imbalance between the financing it deserved and the one you actually received) and that have served you so far to maintain acceptable service levels. Without a adequate financing plan It will be difficult for the UA or the UMH to face, for example, the serious problem of aging of the teaching staff that they drag (the average age among the holders of Alicante is 59 years and the same problem suffers in some studies that of Elche). Nor will they have sufficient resources to maintain the level in the new educational paradigm. that forcibly introduces digitization. Nor will they be able to increase the resources allocated to research. All of which will have repercussions in a deterioration of its quality and its prestige and relevance. It is not something that concerns them, it concerns us all, because it is the formation of our future generations that we are talking about. And the upcoming development of Alicante. There is no serious study that does not consider, as one of the two greatest drivers of wealth in this province in the last century and what we have taken from it, the creation of the University of Alicante. The other is the airport. Anyone else is light years away.
Next year it will be Amparo Navarro who will preside over the autonomous conference of rectors and the universities of the province are already advised to stop García Reche
But despite their importance, universities are not in the political discourse. They are not discussed in relation to European funds, for example. What you do is create one organization after another (Digital District, Cenid, Aging Center, Ellis Foundation …), with their collaboration (or, rather, with the use of their brand), but in practice on the sidelines of them. And the political holders of the portfolio are treated as second-order officials. This has been a constant in the governments of Madrid, regardless of who carried them out, and also in those of the Generalitat Valenciana. For successive regional executives, universities have been, at best, a territory whose inhabitants had to be seduced, in the case of those of Valencia (which have many cases of transfers from classrooms to the Administration, including some rector who changed the treatment of magnificent by the one of honorable gentleman that corresponds to the consellers). Or simply and simply a nuisance, in the case of Alicante (whose main rectors, the one who created it and the one who expanded it, Antonio Gil Olcina and Andrés Pedreño, share the fact that they had to resign due to political pressure). But they have never figured as an essential axis of his speeches.
In the first Botànic chaired by Ximo Puig, the Universities fell into the bottomless sack of the Ministry of Education, which until today is directed by the nationalist Vicent Marzà. Sorry but I don’t remember if March came to attend some course opening at the UA or the UMH, What I know is that he ostracized his then general director of Universities, the current Alicante senator Josefina Bueno, who was prevented from developing any program without the regional secretary of the Ministry, Miguel Soler, nor President Puig himself. endorsed despite having been the PSOE who put it there. At Botànic II, which is the one we now have, the situation has not improved, despite the fact that the Universities are in another Ministry, residing for the first time in Alicante and whose owner is the engineer from Elche Carolina Pascual. Valencia has continued to impose its weight and be courted by politicians of all colors, while Alicante is becoming more and more on the edge. Pascual may want to change that status, but her lack of political weight (she is not a member of the PSOE, something that is making her pay dearly) has so far disabled her from doing so. He could have hit the table when the Valencian Innovation Agency was hit (remember, 80% of its millionaire project funds go to Valencia, o-chen-ta), but it was shown that this official called Andrés García Reche, turned by Puig into a viceroy who does not give an account to anyone (does anyone know what happened with the request for explanations that the PP processed in the Corts or Mazón coincides with the Botànic in not being in a hurry?), that third vice president without appointment in the DOGV but with plenty of money to distribute, I mean, it was clear that he commanded more than she.
Will the Consell continue to block that Medicine can be taught in Alicante despite knowing that private universities are waiting for the PP to govern to settle?
We will see what happens in this next course, in which the first female rector of Alicante, Amparo NavarroIt will also be the one that will preside in turn the conference of rectors of the Valencian Community. In which the Alicante universities are already advised to not suffer more robberies of the AVI. And in which the common front that the UA and the UMH are willing to do will be visualized so that the necessary financing plan for Valencian universities finally sees the light and also contemplates territorial factors that correct the policy followed up to here to give more to those who have the most, perpetuating imbalances. We will also see what happens with the degrees and if the Consell continues to block, to the delight of the opposition, the recovery of Medicine studies at the University of Alicante. That the PP, Ciudadanos and Vox, who defend the freezing of the public and the expansion of the private, have no interest because Medicine is attended again in Alicante, in addition to staying of course in the UMH, is logical and is consistent with the programs with which they attend the elections. But let the left vet those studies now, when it knows for sure that the day it ceases to govern, they will arrive in the province hand in hand with the private universities that were already about to settle in the last legislature in which the PP governed, no there are those who understand it. Are we stupid, or what?
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.