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Rector’ open letter to university community

Coat of arms of the University of Barcelona.

Coat of arms of the University of Barcelona.



Dear university community members,

During the last parliamentary control session, the President of the Government of Catalonia, when he was talking about the difficulty of elaborating the budget for 2013, affirmed sharply: “We refuse to destroy the welfare state in our country; everything has a limit”. The President knows that we support this fair demand. On my responsibility as rector and without less flatness, I affirm that we also refuse to go beyond this limit on the quality and services provided by the University of Barcelona.

I will say it clearly: we are not going to accept a budget that enables us to carry out the mission that society entrusted to us. Our autonomy and authority will allow us to fight, as we did it in the past, against the injustices that interfere with out competences. We will take specific measures for each case. We will continue applying the most favourable alternatives within the legal framework for the sake of our staff, our students and our work.

The UB understands the difficult economic situation that our country is facing and the efforts made by administrations to counterbalance their deficit. Anyone would not be able to affirm that the UB, or its rector, have not devoted all the synergies to accept some restrictions that forced us to rethink our activities in very difficult economic conditions. We have been leaders in explaining the need to assume adjustments. And we assume them responsibly, prioritising staff.

However, we are now in an unsustainable situation. After the great effort made during the past years by all the university community groups, we have plenty of reasons to continue demanding some improving conditions that precede the current situation. We cannot be asked for more. An institution as the University of Barcelona requires financial stability. Heritage can be a temporal way of avoiding staff cuts, but it is not a solution. Nor the UB neither society can allow a waste of the advances achieved until now and, even it is clearly that austerity will continue to be present in political agendas, I want to remark that we will be determinant to attain that immediately relevant effects do not become structural.

People continue to be our priority. People administer, manage, study, teach, research, transfer, and innovate. In short, the UB is the people who compose it. In this sense, the budget proposal for 2013 ensure the maintenance of necessary job positions, the call to announce the maximum number of permanent teaching positions allowed by the legal framework, the financial aids which complement the equity grand, and several initiatives to promote employment and education. The UB has enough solidity and stability to do it.

We will take any necessary measure to defend what we consider fair. It would be irresponsible not to make our best to avoid going beyond an irreversible limit. It would be unjustifiable not to have made our best if Brussels changes its adjustment policy, or Catalonia reaches an understanding with the State. Knowing that our work does not include saying to politicians what they should do, I cannot avoid making a comparison with other countries which, despite the crisis, continue investing on higher education. These countries are aware of their need to have powerful academic and research structures to be competitive. Without a firm commitment of governments, the gap between us and other international institutions, that did not exist some years ago, will be wider and the implementation of European Higher Education Area will remain uncompleted. As I have already state many times, to invest in higher education, in public university, means to invest in future. Therefore, it is necessary to take profit of the conversations set up between Catalonia and the State to re-direct our way and suggest future scenes.

This letter aims also at scotching rumours, lies and the disinformation that circulates around us as they do not create a suitable atmosphere to develop our work. I want to inform university community that we are negotiating, and we will not stop doing it, with the Government of Catalonia and other public administrations in order to make them understand the extreme situation that the University is facing. We are working, and we will continue doing it, not only to avoid the introduction of models which slow out our autonomy and development, but also to consolidate resources which enable us to counterbalance the cuts in public funding and that, in a future, help us to tackle the gap between us and other international universities to which we are compared.

Probably, we are not always completely aware of the strength we will have if we are able to work together on the same direction. As rector, I will fight together with the executive council to maintain UB leading position and to ensure the minimal effect of these threats. I take the chance to thank you for your understanding and dedication to all the sacrifices that have been necessary to make in these circumstances, which everyone is suffering. Finally, I encourage all of you to work together to face these difficult moments.

Yours sincerely,

Dídac Ramírez i Sarrió

Barcelona, 15th April 2013




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