Council of Ministers

Government of Spain pushes for reform of the university law

Council of Ministers - 2021.8.31

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Moncloa Palace, Madrid

The Council of Ministers has analysed the Draft Organic Law of the University System (LOSU), whose text is the result of a year of prior consultation with collegiate bodies in the university sector, rectors, students, social agents and parliamentary groups.

After highlighting this exercise in dialogue and the scrupulous respect for regional competences and the constitutional principle of university autonomy, the Minister for Universities, Manuel Castells, has advocated the need to renew Organic Law 6/2001, which has governed universities for 20 years: "In these two decades there have been profound changes in the world and in society, as well as two serious economic crises that have hit public universities extraordinarily hard".

The three main objectives of the future law are to improve the quality of the university system, to link it to the economy and employment and to put an end to the precariousness of teaching and research staff.

Quality, link to the economy and employment and an end to precariousness

To improve the quality of the system, Castells has emphasised research: "For me, without research there is no university". Thus, all universities will be obliged to allocate at least 5% of their budgets to research, and reserve 15% of university vacancies for researchers who opt for a university career.

Along with research and transfer, teaching will be established as merit for the academic career, "putting an end to the contradiction that we are paid for teaching, but we are promoted without considering the quality of our teaching", said the minister. The new figure of distinguished lecturers is established as a method of attracting international talent at the highest level.

The link with the economy and employment will be strengthened through measures such as bridges between university and higher vocational training, legal coverage for dual degrees, internships in companies and industrial doctorates, and entrepreneurship, laying the foundations for universities to create and participate in companies and entities based on the knowledge generated.

To combat the precariousness situation of some of its staff, mainly associate lecturers, the LOSU provides universities with different tools. These include a stable academic career for permanent teaching staff with PhDs at three levels (assistant professors, professors and full professors), a reduction in the temporary nature of teaching and research staff contracts from 40% to 20%, and an increase from 51% to 55% in the minimum percentage of civil servant teaching staff that public universities must have.

Students, the raison d'être of universities

Manuel Castells stated that "students are the raison d'être of universities" and therefore the new text will reaffirm their rights and duties.

The first right is the right to have access to higher education after passing the relevant tests, the minister said. Therefore, the government's scholarship policy will continue to be reinforced and the public price ceilings established annually by the General Conference on University Policy will be maintained.

Student participation in governing bodies, departments and faculties will be enhanced by the creation of a Student Council in each university.

Rectorate, Dean's Offices and Social Councils

Manuel Castells explained that, although the current system of electing the rector will be maintained, a second method has been included through a selection committee in which 30% of the members will be people who do not belong to the university. The requirements to become a rector are also to be amended, and 3 six-year research periods, 3 five-year teaching periods and four years of management experience will be required.

The Social Councils, for their part, will be elected by the regional legislative assemblies on the basis of open candidatures. The election system for the deanships of the faculties will also be renewed.

Financing and management

The future law establishes the principle of sufficient funding for public universities to make reforms possible. Castells recalled that the new education law has already established - in agreement with the regional governments - a gradual increase in public spending on education until it reaches a minimum of 5% of GDP in a decade. A distinction will be made between structural, targeted and one-off funding.

In budgetary management, the obligation is established for each university to establish analytical accounting or equivalent, the rendering of accounts, and patronage and new income formulas will be promoted, such as those derived from companies created and participated in by the universities, or from patents.


Finally, the Minister for Universities emphasised the need to promote the internationalisation and integration of Spanish universities in the European Higher Education Area, promoting programmes such as Erasmus+ and Erasmus Mundo, international mobility of teaching and management staff, inter-university alliances with other countries, the creation of shared degrees with foreign universities and active participation in cooperation programmes with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among others. To this end, administrative procedures for accreditations and qualifications will be simplified.

Policy planning and accountability

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Fernando CalvoThe Government has approved the Annual Regulatory Assessment Report for the 2020 Annual Regulatory Plan, and the Annual Regulatory Plan of the General State Administration for 2021. Together with the 'Delivering' Report, they are documents that reinforce the transparency of the Executive and the information on the commitments made.

The Minister for the Presidency, Parliamentary Relations and Democratic Memory, Félix Bolaños, has stated that it is just as important for "citizens to know what the government plans to implement in the coming months" as it is to "account for what we have done". In this respect, he pointed out that the 2020 assessment report is the first to be carried out, despite the Government's law that established it dating from 1997.

This Assessment Report on the Annual Regulatory Plan 2020 reflects 87% compliance to date. Bolaños recalled that although the priority has always been to fight the pandemic, it has been possible to comply with regular and planned regulatory activity. Among the regulations approved, he reviewed the Minimum Basic Income, the increase in the Minimum Professional Wage (SMI), the laws on Climate Change and the Food Chain, and the Organic Law on the Comprehensive Guarantee of Sexual Freedom.

Annual Regulatory Plan 2021

As for the Annual Regulatory Plan 2021, it includes all regulatory matters that the Council of Ministers plans to approve by 31 December: They total 144 initiatives split between organic laws (6), ordinary laws (28) and royal decrees (110). The minister explained that more than a third of these are related to Spain's commitments to the European Commission, within the framework of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan.

"The European Commission and the International Monetary Fund predict that Spain will be the fastest growing country in 2022 and we want this economic growth, which is going to be very strong, to be accompanied by social cohesion, so that this Plan that we are approving today is the social and economic path to fair recovery," Bolaños summarised.

The minister has advanced some of the new regulations planned for the next four months: the laws on Vocational Training, Science, Business Creation and Growth, Housing and 5G, as well as the development of the education law and the labour reform.

Olive oil quality

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Fernando CalvoThe Council of Ministers has approved the quality standard for olive oil and olive pomace. The threefold objective is to revalue this foodstuff - particularly extra virgin olive oil - to meet the new demands for transparency of the public and to satisfy a historical demand of the sector, as the previous regulation dated back to 1983.

The Minister for Territorial Policy and Government Spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, praised the "iconic character in Spain and in the Mediterranean diet" of this agri-food product, which is also essential for the economy.

The approved text establishes requirements on traceability, processing and packaging of the final product in order to place Spanish olive oil as the highest quality in the world.

Development of the Mediterranean Corridor

The Council of Ministers has authorised the tender - through Adif Alta Velocidad (Adif AV) - for the construction works on the Murcia-Almeria Mediterranean High-Speed Corridor, for the Lorca-Pulpí section. The contract has an estimated value of 197.5 million euros and a completion period of 34 months.

Thus, all sections between Murcia and Almería are under construction or in the contracting phase, except for the Totana section and the integration into the urban centre of Lorca.

Isabel Rodríguez defined the Mediterranean Corridor as a "strategic infrastructure" and reiterated the commitment of the Executive and Adif AV to its planning and development.

So far, 70% of the Spanish population is fully vaccinated

The Government spokesperson said that today the milestone of 70% of the Spanish population being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be reached; "a national success of which we can be proud" and that makes Spain a world leader in vaccination.

In total, 64.4 million doses have been given in Spain and 7.5 million doses have been committed for Latin American countries, six of which have already been shipped.

Rodríguez pointed out that the vaccination campaign has been carried out with territorial cohesion, thanks to the work of the Regional Governments, and generational cohesion, and highlighted the exemplary nature of Spanish society "which has considered vaccination as a right and not an obligation".

Non official translation