The University of Northumbria has welcomed a ruling from the European Court of Justice that has backed one of its post-
graduates in her fight to have
her application for a post in Madrid's Prado art gallery properly considered.
Teresa Fernandez de Bobadilla obtained an MA in fine arts restoration at the then Newcastle
upon Tyne Polytechnic in 1989, ironically with the help of a grant from the Prado.
She launched legal action after the gallery refused in 1992 to consider her bid for a permanent job as a restorer of works of art on paper, because her degree had not been officially recognised as being equivalent to a similar Spanish qualification, under a collective agreement between the Prado and staff representatives.
This system has now been challenged by the ECJ, which has cited European laws guaranteeing the rights of European Union citizens to have their qualifications recognised across the EU.
It is likely that the Prado will now be forced to consider her application. A spokesperson for the university said: "The decision vindicates the quality of masters' programmes at the university
"The course has opened doors for hundreds of our graduates, who have gone on to enjoy distinguished careers throughout the world."
Ms Fernandez de Bobadilla applied to Spain's ministry of education for her degree to be recognised, but officials later told her that she would have to take two examinations to prove that she had enough knowledge of the 24 subjects covered by Spanish art restoration degrees.
She complained that this demand breached her rights under European law to have professional qualifications gained in the EU recognised in any member state and took her case to the ECJ, which has supported her.
Judges said it was for the Spanish authorities to establish whether "the knowledge and qualifications certified by the diploma ... correspond to the knowledge and qualifications required by the host member state's legislation".
They added that where there is some shortfall, a public body would have "to assess whether the knowledge acquired by the person concerned during a course of study or by way of practical experience is sufficient".
Although the ruling has to be considered by a Spanish court, its effect is that the ministry will probably be forced to consider whether her degree is the equivalent of a Spanish qualification without her taking an examination and also that the Prado should indeed consider her application, whether her degree has been granted recognition, or not.