Spanish rectors oppose accreditation system

December 12, 2003

Spanish university rectors have criticised a new staff-appointments system that has led to a soaring number of successful appeals against decisions made by the body that considers part-time lecturers for permanent posts.

In a report, the University Rectors' Conference (Crue) suggests improvements that focuses on "habilitation", the new way of awarding permanent posts based on the German model. Academics have to pass a national exam before they can apply to universities for tenured posts or promotion.

The lecturers' main union, the Confederaci"n Sindical de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), is campaigning for greater transparency in the vetting of temporary lecturers by the new quality agency, Aneca. There have been calls in parliament for Aneca head Ismael Crespo to resign.

Aneca started work in October 2002, overseeing a system of accreditation for about 25,000 lecturers on temporary contracts who have until 2005 to get accredited.

So far 10,000 lecturers have applied for accreditation and 69 per cent have succeeded. But, since May, the CCOO has lodged 300 appeals against Aneca decisions with the Spanish education ministry. So far 33 of the 40 cases heard have been successful.

José Palazón, academic organiser at the CCOO, said candidates were given little or no explanation as to why they had failed.

A second criticism is that vetting boards are expected to evaluate extremely wide areas, so a candidate may be assessed by a board that does not contain a single specialist in his or her field.

The Crue report says the system is slow, costly and inefficient and adds that time spent by candidates and assessors on habilitation is a drain on university resources. "(It) has a disproportionate human and economic cost that is not justified by the results," Crue says.

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