March 4, 2024

A class at the Royal Conservatory of Madrid.
A class at the Royal Conservatory of Madrid.Claudio Alvarez

When the so-called European Higher Education Area began to be built at the dawn of the 21st century, the Higher Artistic Education sector (EEAASS) thought that the time would come when they would be treated as such, even with the illusion of the arrival of a specific norm to make them equivalent to the university ones. The frustration came when they were included in the Organic Law of Education (LOE, of 2006, which regulates all pre-university education). Although some progress was made in this standard — EEAASS higher education centers were allowed to teach master’s degrees — the possibility of scheduling the cycle corresponding to the doctorate was prohibited and subject to the formation of agreements with a university. This standard did not address the anomaly that the category of higher education teachers was equivalent to that of Secondary Education professor.

The EEAASS sector had been demanding that artistic teaching be removed from the LOE and be integrated within the framework of university teaching. If the objective of the current bill (approved by the Council of Ministers on February 21) was to do that, we must infer that it has failed in its attempt. Within the current legal framework, they could already be within the universities. In fact, they already are; There are public and private universities that offer specialties specific to EEAASS in their catalog of Degrees (for example, Musicology, Composition), there are an infinity of those that offer master’s degrees and doctorates of similar content to that of these teachings. We understand that the question of the integration of the arts in the university has been worked on and resolved for a long time because the campuses, in the exercise of their autonomy, program those degrees that they consider appropriate, after accreditation from (the evaluation agency) ANECA.

What this norm had to solve was how to fully integrate the EEAASS conservatories and higher schools with a framework equivalent to the university, allow research and doctoral programs to be essential in them and have the autonomy of that other educational level; the current Government promised that a Higher Artistic Education Law would be drawn up to include them fully within the Higher Education Space.

A positive development is the creation of a specific faculty; However, it is not clear how their dedication regime will be or, at least, to say that it would be equivalent to the university. As for the research, the proponent cites it through a decorative regulatory language, but the reality is that it is subject to the personal effort of the teachers, this being a matter alien to artistic teaching centers. This means that there is nothing specified about the dedication regime (schedule), nor what means can be available, nor what advantages the fruits of this investigation translate into. The person who wants to investigate will have to dedicate his personal time and his private means for it.

As regards doctoral programmes, an important part of the research, in this Government proposal a subsidiary relationship between higher artistic education centers and universities continues to be maintained through the signing of agreements, as already contemplated in the LOE. Therefore, nothing new in this regard. In short, the professors of the higher centers will be able to direct or co-direct doctoral theses, but they will not be their tutors, this role will always correspond to a university professor; the enrollment and the issuance of the corresponding title will be from the university. As regards the direction of a thesis by a teacher at the conservatory, it is not adequately regulated either in terms of time reductions or in relation to economic bonuses.

The research and implementation of doctoral programs are of special interest because, when evaluating world universities, everything related to research is part of the most widely used criteria: number of cycle II and III students, doctoral students and doctorates, quotes from their articles and theses, and so on. This bill considers that EEAASS higher education centers are of a lower category than universities and that they should continue to have a subsidiary relationship with them, not a desirable relationship of equals.

Another debatable aspect is the limitation of the autonomy of the centers. Once again we are faced with the decorative language that speaks of autonomy, but continues to treat them as the LOE did. The Government will establish the basic aspects of the curriculum, as it does for basic education, and the different educational administrations will complete them. Nothing similar to what happens in the university world, where the autonomy to develop their study plans is total. The proponent treats artistic teachings as minors and treats them condescendingly. Likewise, the own bodies that this bill proposes are not in any way equivalent or similar to the university ones, embodied in the Organic Law of the University System (LOSU). For the EEAASS, however, they emanate from what the LOE established at the time and supervision falls on the educational inspection services and not on their own bodies as happens in the university.

All these inconsiderations towards artistic teachings have another pernicious effect. The fact that there are universities that are giving EEAASS degrees, even in musical interpretation, which seemed to be a field reserved for higher conservatories, means that they are in a disadvantaged position to compete. They will be less attractive because the agility to create new titles, hire professors, have their own programs and fields of research will not be possible. Nor will they be able to compete on equal terms in external evaluations.

Finally, it should not be ignored that the countries towards which we should converge have already made decisions to create what they have called the universities of the arts. In these institutions, these teachings have been treated with respect for their unique characteristics and equating them in all aspects with university teachings. A German student can do a doctorate at the University of Music and Dramatic Art in Vienna (1970) or at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, but a Spaniard in Spain will not be able to do it at their center.

In conclusion, we believe that the problems that a new standard should solve were: 1. Remove the higher EEAASS from the LOE: 2. Integrate the higher EEAASS centers in a framework comparable to the university, respecting their specific characteristics; 3. Separate the teaching bodies of the professional and higher level; and 4. Equalize in the policy of scholarships to the student body of artistic educations with the university one. The last two points are solved by this draft, however, a standard of this type was not necessary to do so. The first does not succeed, because in everything related to the organization and administrative issues it continues to be under the regulation of the LOE; the Lomloe EEAASS nomenclature should be proposed for this standard. Nor does it solve the treatment of the centers. The affiliation to a university, or the realization of agreements, was already possible with the previous norms, so nothing is contributed in this aspect. The fundamental thing was that they acquire a status similar to that of universities and that they have their doctoral and research programs.

In short, a draft without content is not what was claimed and it is not what is needed for comparison with the reference countries of the European Union.

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