Students could pay for reforms

October 1, 1999

A review of the Spanish university system is likely to recommend a significant increase in funding through both student fees and government grants.

More money is urgently needed for radical reforms in the management and focus of Spanish universities in response to an increasingly competitive European market and to meet Spain's economic and social needs, said Josep Bricall, president of the review and former rector of the University of Barcelona.

Professor Bricall said that while Spanish students pay relatively low fees compared with students in other European countries - on average around ¤420 to ¤600 (Pounds 380) per year - their contribution makes up a significant proportion (around 21 per cent) of university funding.

"We need to increase the student contribution. But in my view it would be very difficult to argue that students should pay more without also increasing funding from the government."

Professor Bricall also suggested that any increase in fees should be accompanied by the introduction of a national system of student loans and fellowships.

The review, commissioned by the Conference of Spanish Rectors and expected to report early next year, will also call for an overhaul in the organisation and management of universities to better serve the needs of business and society, rather than the internal demands of the sector.

Professor Bricall said: "We have to concentrate on the needs of society and the labour market, and then try to organise universities in accordance with these requirements."

This will mean a greater freedom for universities in deciding how to manage themselves.

Professor Bricall suggested universities might be given a range of possible governing structures to adopt, depending on their mission and culture. But he warned that greater autonomy should not mean handing over control to university professors.

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