Madrid, May 31 (EFE) .- The rectors of the six public universities in Madrid have issued a critical report with the preliminary draft of the Madrid Higher Education Area Law of Higher Education (LEMES), which presents “gaps and insufficiencies” and requires “substantial changes”.
After describing as a “positive initiative” a law that addresses higher education in Madrid, currently non-existent but already have other CCAA, the rectors shelling “in a constructive spirit” in a document of 38 pages the proposals for inclusions and modifications that they consider “necessary” “
University autonomy and funding; the definition of universal public service; the requirements to open new universities; the provision of a scholarship system and affordable tuition fees are some of the points of contention, and the rectors ask to “allocate the necessary time and effort” to reach a consensus on a law “with a vocation for stability over time”.
In the draft “is not clearly defined” what is public university service or the concept of “universal service, that is, minimum services with quality regulated”, which should offer a university in its three missions: teaching, research and innovation and knowledge transfer.
This definition, they point out, would avoid “the risk of considering as such a model of ‘academia’ or ‘college’, lacking in research and innovation and transfer.
In addition, they consider that the Community “can not simultaneously exercise the roles of regulator and provider of the same service, contrary to what the preamble of the preliminary draft states.”
As in Madrid come together “service providers” that are public, private and even come from outside the region, the regulation of the Madrid Higher Education Area (EMES) is “a necessity”, but believe that the draft is proposed “more as regulation of public universities that of the public university service “.
Thus, research is hardly included “as a requirement when the provider is private or from abroad” of the region, nor is innovation, transfer and offer of doctorate as components of the university service, since the text does leaves “in a simple level of promise”, without clarifying what will happen if there are breaches.
To create a new university, it would be worth to offer a minimum of ten bachelor’s and master’s degrees, a number “clearly insufficient” and neither the number of branches or areas of knowledge nor the functions of the Employability Advisory Board are clarified.
The accreditations of the qualifications by prestigious foreign quality agencies “do not end in a binding recognition” by the Community, which would have to be “reaccredited” by an autonomous body, they criticize.
The text attributes to the Social Council competences “of control over autonomous organisms of the Administration, whose nature has nothing to do with that of public universities”, reopening the debate on “the balance in which university autonomy prevails in each reorganization of the sector” public”.
Therefore, the members of the Conference of Rectors of Madrid universities (Cruma) recommend “leaving out of the LEMES any amendment relating to Social Councils.”
They also ask to “make it clear” that the financing charged to the regional budgets is “only for the public universities of Madrid”.
In “basic or operational financing”, it is necessary to define which concepts it includes and ask to start with “an initial minimum amount equal to that existing before the crisis cuts” and also contemplate a specific chapter for investments.
The improvements made by variable financing should be “incorporated into its basic or operational financing, as a result of the structural changes produced” by these.
In financing by program contracts, “there are aspects that should be included as basic or operational financing”. Also, in “financing by incentives”, some criteria should go to financing by program contracts.
They ask to include in basic financing the development of the professional career for teaching and research staff (PDI), administration and services (PAS), and financing of new infrastructures through investments.
In addition, it is necessary to specify “the obligation of the Community to maintain its funding commitments through multi-year agreements” that give stability and confidence to public universities, because the text “leaves a door open to the Community to breach these commitments.”
Regarding the “high performance groups and centers”, their organic dependence on the universities is not sufficiently established, and they consider a “contradiction” to have autonomy of operation and management -with their own staff- within the framework of the university statute and the LOU and the Law of Science.
It is also “necessary” to clarify their budgetary allocations and the transformation procedures of the groups and centers to be of “high performance”.
They ask to clarify the new figures as “visiting professor doctor” with their accreditation and objectives, budget allocation and call procedure, which corresponds “only to public universities by Organic Law”, while the draft speaks of “regional calls”.
The draft does not include “the provision of a scholarship system for students, nor the establishment of affordable public rates and prices for access and the continuation of higher education at its different levels.”
In terms of student mobility, they ask to include “possible formulas for recognition of credits between degrees” from different universities.
“We consider it necessary to carry out the aforementioned modifications”, for which “we offer our collaboration to the CM to incorporate and specify in the articles the points mentioned above,” the rectors added.
In his opinion, “all the time that is now used to improve and agree” the text will minimize “the possible errors – difficult to correct later – that could be the result of a precipitation in the deadlines.”
This is the first time that a Law of Madrid universities has been proposed and “much is at stake”, in order to provide the region with a “quality public university service, with an internationally recognizable and recognized brand, which serves as a center of attraction and conservation of talent in the mobility of any university system “, concludes the communiqué of the Cruma.