The universities will see how this year the energy bill increases by 50 million, an amount that will be covered by the Generalitat
The Catalan rectors ask to unify university prices and thus put an end to the current difference between humanistic and scientific careers. Although the amounts of both areas have brought the positions much closer this year, there is still a difference of 77 cents per credit, which translates into just 50 euros per year and 184 for the entire degree. “Students do not have to pay differently depending on the studies they choose,” Daniel Crespo, rector of the UPC and president of the Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP) said on Tuesday.
This academic year, university prices took a significant turn to recover the levels prior to the crisis of a decade ago, falling to 33%, which accumulates to the reduction that began in 2020, and thus putting an end to the 2012 tax that skyrocketed enrollment 67%. Another important novelty is that the price classification according to the type of degree was simplified from three to two, so that currently studying Philology costs 1,061 euros per year (if 60 credits are taken), while Engineering costs 1,108. This difference has been significantly reduced this course, since last year it was 600 euros.
But the Catalan rectors ask to go a step further and unify the amounts downwards, and they will put it on the table in the coming months, when they begin to talk about the new price decree for the coming academic year. “The price of the degrees has to be uniform, we are public universities and we have to facilitate access to higher education,” Crespo has intervened. The key to achieving this is for the Generalitat to increase its contribution and financially compensate the universities for this reduction in income, which means a drop in prices.
Also, this issue is part of a broader debate that is the funding model of universities. Crespo has once again called for “a stable framework that allows planning investments” and facing two challenges: the renewal of the workforce and the improvement of the buildings. The president of the ACUP has opted for a financing model in which there is a part of the common amount for all the public campuses, but also an additional contribution that depends on the casuistry of each university (for example, the Autonomous University pays for the maintenance of the roads of the campus or that of Barcelona has a lot of heritage buildings).
On an economic level, this year the universities will also have to face the increase in energy bills, which will ultimately be 50 million more. The universities contract the electricity supply in a consortium and until now had advantageous prices. But this December they had to renew the contract and update the amounts. At first they feared that the increase would be 88 million, but Crespo has admitted that they have finally achieved more advantageous conditions. The Department of Universities has already made a commitment to meet these 50 million in an extraordinary contribution to the campuses.
Another of the pending challenges of the universities is to regularize all the associate professors who are in an irregular situation, a problem that Crespo has admitted, but that he has not wanted to quantify. “It is a problem that we carry over from the last decade. The universities have been forced to hire associate professors because we could not hire full-time professors”, he asserted. Crespo has opted to address “delicately” the case of associate professors, and see how their situation is regularized. The Generalitat allocates in its 2023 Budgets an item of 15 million to turn false associates into reading professors, although for this the applicants must have a doctorate.
Crespo, who made his debut a few weeks ago as president of the ACUP -which brings together the seven public universities and the UOC-, presented this Tuesday the entity’s action plan during his term, which lasts one year, and which will focus on several axes: the improvement of teaching, the financing of the campuses, the adaptation to the new regulations, ensuring a basic financing for research and the international projection of Catalan universities.