Bachelor's degrees to last 3 years instead of 4: new university reform stirs Catalan students' anger

April 7, 2015 06:03 PM | Valentina Marconi

In times of shrinking public funding, higher tuition fees and fewer scholarships, a controversial new university reform has been approved by the Spanish Government. The so-called "flexibilisation" of Bachelor's degrees or the "3+2" system has been introduced, provoking a wave of protests and criticism across the university community. The new reform allows universities to choose an undergraduate programme length that ranges from 3 to 4 years, abandoning the 4-year scheme adopted in 2010. Then, a one- or two-year Master's will follow. Many fear that it will devaluate undergraduate degrees, obliging students to undertake a Master’s in order to find a decent job. Moreover, as postgraduate tuition fees are substantially higher, some think that the overall price of education is likely to rise, pushing the Spanish university system towards the US model. Other arguments against the reform are: the lack of democratic discussion on the new text, the temporal proximity of the previous reform and the potential increase in disorder within the system.

Entrepreneurship in Catalan universities on the rise despite obstacles

March 5, 2015 12:58 PM | Laura Aznar / Martín González

Entrepreneurship in Catalan universities is not as common as in the United States, but that is starting to change. The Online University of Catalonia (UOC) along with the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) have a stand at 4YFN, a parallel event to the Mobile World Congress, which is the main international event of the cell-phone-related industries, and which has taken place in Barcelona every year since 2006. 4YFN is focused on small companies that build internet services, the so-called ‘start-ups’. For years, universities have run offices dedicated to helping students and teachers to create a business, but the struggle to find investment and difficulties in setting up a business are still the major complaints of young entrepreneurs.

The Internet has strengthened the Catalan independence movement

September 18, 2014 06:30 PM | Rebecca Lock

"Without a doubt the independence movement would never have been so successful without Web 2.0 technologies" says Scottish academic Kathryn Crameri. In the last few years support for independence in Catalonia has grown considerably, with around 50% of the Catalan population supporting the movement in 2014, compared to some 15% 10 years ago. In his new book, 'Sobirania.Cat', prominent Catalan journalist Saül Gordillo explains how this can be intrinsically linked to the steady rise of online activity in Catalonia, saying that the growth in the movement would be "unthinkable" without the Internet. Albert Royo, Secretary General of Catalonia's Public Diplomacy Council, explained why pro-independence activists are so reliant on the Internet. "The diplomatic channels of communication are being controlled by the Spanish Government", he said, and alternative channels had to be found.

Catalan universities have a research model “comparable” to the most advanced EU countries

December 17, 2012 11:47 PM | CNA

A study undertaken by the Catalan Association of Public Universities shows that 64% of all funds for research came from public or private competition processes. This shows the Catalan university system’s capacity to attract this type of funds, which leads the study to conclude that the system is “solid”, “at the forefront” in Spain and “comparable” to the university systems of the most advanced EU countries. In 2012, the total budget for research in Catalonia’s public universities was €346 million, which represented 20% of their total budget.

Manuel Castells awarded the Holberg Prize, considered Sociology’s Nobel

June 7, 2012 11:46 PM | CNA

The Barcelona-raised sociologist Manuel Castells has received the 2012 Holberg International Memorial Prize in Bergen, Norway. This award is considered to be the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in the field of sociology. The jury considered his book ‘Communication Power’ to be “essential for a new understanding of politics”. Castells holds the Wallis Annenberg Chair at the University of Southern California, he is Research Professor at Catalonia’s distance-learning university (UOC) and Professor Emeritus at the University of California (Berkeley).