April 18, 2024

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The Council of Universities – chaired by the minister of the branch, Joan Subirats (Unidas Podemos), and of which the 90 rectors are a part – has issued an “unfavorable” report on the draft Law on Higher Artistic Education (dance and music conservatories , and art, design and conservation centers) that has been drawn up by the Ministry of Education (PSOE) and that has already been approved once by the Council of Ministers. The report was agreed upon by the rectors who presented it to the number two of the Ministry of Universities, José Manuel Pingarrón, in the permanent commission of this body. A spokesman for the ministry assures that this “has not positioned itself”, because the text has not been carried out in full. The deans, however, claim to be “in tune” with Subirats, whom they place in an uncomfortable situation. Education has not yet ruled.

The draft equates university and artistic education and unifies the teaching staff. The campuses see in this regulation a problem of duplication of qualifications and are suspicious of its quality. The Council’s report is mandatory, but not binding, so Education could go ahead with its plan. The draft law “does not include for these degrees the requirement of the same guarantees that are contemplated for those taught by the university system”, it is stated in the text of the report, which has been advanced by Europa Press.

A university degree or postgraduate degree, as well as the professors who teach the classes, must undergo strict evaluations by the national agency ANECA or the local ones, and the rectors complain that the Artistic Education degrees will not go through that verification process. “The requirements regarding the level of teaching staff (percentage of doctors, research, etc.) that occur in the university system are not included in the project.”

The bill also contemplates that the criteria to be a professor of Artistic Education within the framework of the European Higher Education Area be hardened. An “initial training” will be established to become a teacher, and the competencies that they must meet will be defined. Currently, 14,000 teachers teach.

The University Policy Conference considers that, despite being higher education studies attended by 140,000 students, Artistic Education should not “give access to doctoral studies” as the University Artistic Education does. Some 26,000 students will be eligible for the same scholarships as university students. The rectors also reject that there is no entrance test such as Selectividad, although the draft law provides for homogeneous tests in all centers.

The Ministry of Education has issued a note in which it recalls that the report of the Council of Universities is mandatory, but not binding; and recalls that other groups ―such as the Spanish Association of Higher Artistic Education Centers (ACESEA) and the Confederation of Schools and Plastic Arts and Design (CEA)― have supported the draft.

In recent weeks, the Conference of Deans of Fine Arts -with the support of the rectors- has put a lot of pressure on stopping the draft, so, after the end of the meeting, it has expressed its satisfaction in a press release. “Our concerns and red lines have a single purpose, to safeguard the quality system of the University and always seek dialogue and consensus to regulate the framework of higher artistic education,” said Alfonso Ruiz, its president and dean of the University of the lagoon.

The tone of the deans was much more energetic on February 24, when they threatened to take the bill to court if it went ahead: “University education can only be offered at the University and we are not going to admit under any circumstances that professional skills are confused with academics. In addition, we will be vigilant and attentive to the consequences that the development of this draft may have on the professional opportunities of our graduates”. Following the report, the conference has softened its words.

This same week, the deans met with Minister Subirats and felt, they affirm in their note, that they were supported by him. Next week they will meet with a representative of the conference of deans (CRUE) and the Spanish Association of Higher Artistic Education Centers to seek a negotiated solution. The rectors have been publicly showing their misgivings about the draft for Artistic Education for months. Added to the demographic drop are other dangers: the push for higher vocational training with extremely high employability and now these arts courses equated to university ones.

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