Appease rectors and students, the challenge of Subirats at the head of Universities

  • The new minister must carry out the university ordination law, which has caused discomfort in students and the CRUE

Joan Subirats shares with his predecessor having a long academic and prestigious career. But he will have to use his more political profile and the lessons learned together with Ada Colau and in the Barcelona city council to bring to fruition the challenges that Manuel Castells has left pending.

The Professor of Political Science at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) arrives at the Ministry of Universities in an intense legislative moment, with the law of university coexistence in the phase of amendments in Congress and the organic law of the university system (Losu) still in the negotiation period with the sector. The Government seeks to create a consensus text but both the rectors and the students have already shown their dissatisfaction with some aspects of the project, so Subirats will have an arduous task of negotiation ahead.

Losu is an ambitious reform that seeks to modify from the election of the rector to the hiring of the faculty, with an eye toward ending the precariousness that associate professors suffer and that their main activity is within the universities. But the Rectors Conference (CRUE) has shown its “frustration” because the ministerial project “is not innovative enough for the level of socioeconomic transformation that Spain requires.” In contrast, the Secretary General for Universities, José Manuel Pingarrón, in an interview in EL PERIÓDICO, has minimized the disagreement by ensuring that the rectors agree with 95% of the law.

In turn, student unions They have shown their rejection of Losu because “it does not suppose any advance” and they interpret that it takes away the power of representation. But the Universities Ministry affirms that it is just the opposite, that it will increase and shield its representation quota.


The students have also expressed their disagreement with the university coexistence law and they have called protests against both laws, which has broken the two years of understanding that they initially maintained with Castells. The students and the entire educational community support the rule repealing the punitive Francoist decree of 1954 to criminalize hazing, kidnapping and harassment. But the student unions have risen against an amendment agreed by PSOE, United We Can and ERC in Congress that urges each university, in the exercise of its autonomy, “to develop the appropriate means for alternative conflict resolution.” In his opinion, the original wording was better because he always bet on mediation.

In any case and once ERC withdrew its amendment to the entirety, the foreseeable thing is that the law of university coexistence will see the light in the near future and the work of Subirats will focus on its implementation. Likewise, the new minister must ensure the development of two royal decrees recently approved. One of them ends with three-year degrees so that the titles are at least four courses. Only 24 of the 3,880 degrees that exist in all of Spain are still three years old and 17 of them are taught in Catalonia, so Subirats must be understood with the Government to adapt them to the law.

Teaching and research

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And the other royal decree obliges universities to meet requirements of teaching and research. If within five years they do not comply with the regulations, the university degree will be withdrawn and they will become higher centers or business schools. The Ministry, therefore, must monitor the process.

Likewise, in September of next year the new evaluation model should be ready in the University access, the Evau, for its entry into force in 2024. It is another of the great pending challenges that he will have to share with Pilar Alegría, Minister of Education, with whom he also faces the difficulty of the course continuing to be face-to-face, in the face of the new and strong challenge of the pandemic.

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