In April 2023, the new Organic Law of the University System (LOSU) came into force. This Law strengthens the university system and education at this level. Likewise, it ensures that the generation of critical knowledge, the human and professional preparation of young people, the development of research and innovation and its transfer to society continue being the foundational pillars of the university system.
Among the many new measures, those aimed at reducing precarious employment in this sector stand out. The goal is to reduce temporary teaching staff from the current 40% to as low as 8%. The working conditions of Associate professors will also improve, turning their positions from temporary into indefinite. The measure will benefit more than 25,000 professors and will ensure their right to recognition of seniority, severance pay, etc. In addition, the figure of Substitute professor is added to replace professors that suspend their services.
Other key measures
- The new Law proposes the commitment of a minimum expenditure of 1% of GDP. This increase is in line with the minimum of 5% of GDP agreed in the Law that regulates non-university levels (LOMLOE). This reform also advocates for the establishment of a maximum price for university public fees, thereby reducing the variation among autonomous communities.
- The academic career of teaching and research staff will be more predictable and clearer, with three stages instead of the previous four: access, stabilization and promotion. Specifically, only ten years will go from the beginning of doctoral studies to stabilization, thus achieving a rejuvenation of the personnel. The entry age to the university career will be moved earlier, which may also attract international talent.
- New principles for the evaluation of professors will be incorporated; these will be both qualitative and quantitative, and will consider the open access of publications, the territorial impact of research, linguistic plurality, professional experience, and the particularities of each academic discipline.
The LOSU is articulated within the context of the European Higher Education Area and this framework is present throughout its scope. LOSU incorporates, for the first time, a degree dedicated to internationalization. Government, autonomous communities and universities will develop strategies to internationalize the university system. The European, Euro-regional and international university alliances are reinforced, with the promotion of joint degrees.
The international mobility of the student body, together with that of research and teaching personnel, becomes a priority. In addition, study visas will be expedited to attract talent and, upon completion of undergraduate, master’s or postgraduate university studies, students will be eligible for a two-year visa to pursue internships or work.
Democratisation and Equality
The new Law continues with the path already taken by the Law of University Coexistence, endowing the entire text with a set of rights and sensitivities that, until today, were not recognized. In terms of gender, all universities, public or private, will have to have equality plans, measures to eliminate the wage gap, and protocols against all kinds of harassment. Equality and Diversity Units will be mandatory, while all university bodies, and personnel evaluation or selection commissions, will guarantee a balanced composition between women and men. In addition, during recruitment processes, affirmative actions may be applied to hire, under equal conditions of suitability, the less represented gender.
Diversity Units will have a disability care service and a plan for inclusion and non-discrimination on the grounds of disability, ethnic and national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity, and for any other social or personal condition. Other measures include a reserve quota in public employment offers, sign language services to students, as well as other adaptations to people with intellectual or other disabilities.
The participation of students in governing bodies such as the Senate or the Faculty and Department Councils reaches a minimum of 25% in the LOSU when no percentage was guaranteed in the previous law. The LOSU contemplates the creation of the University Council, which will serve as the highest representation and coordination of students. The list of student rights established by this Law is also extensive, with the right to academic unemployment among the most important ones.
In short, the LOSU marks a new path for universities, with more autonomy and the necessary tools to face the changes that are taking place in society. The university system as a whole is reinforced to face the new challenges by adapting its perspectives in financing, innovation and re-evaluation of teaching; by focusing on the transfer of knowledge to society and setting the path already begun by the Ministry of Universities in matters related to the democratization of access, both in terms of rights and university autonomy.
Source: Eurydice Unit Spain