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Rector Joan Elias reiterates the need for a fair funding and defends ¿the reputation, prestige and credibility¿ as the university¿s heritage

The rector Joan Elias expressed “the refusal to any intention of any falsification or <i>mala praxis</i> leading to the obtaining a university diploma”.

The rector Joan Elias expressed “the refusal to any intention of any falsification or mala praxis leading to the obtaining a university diploma”.

The Paranimph during the opening ceremony.

The Paranimph during the opening ceremony.

Professor Joan Tugores gave the opening lecture.

Professor Joan Tugores gave the opening lecture.

The teaching staff and the administration and services staff that retired last year were given the medals of the University of Barcelona.

The teaching staff and the administration and services staff that retired last year were given the medals of the University of Barcelona.

04/10/2018

Institucional

The urgent need for a fair fund at the university and the importance of keeping its reputation, prestige and credibility were two highlighted issues in the rector’s speech, during the opening ceremony for the academic year 2018-2019, held yesterday in the Paranimph of the Historical Building. The opening lecture, titled “Mirant al futur, una època desorés de la crisi”, was given by Professor Joan Tugores, from the Faculty of Economics and Business. Two students took part in the event, Violeta de Puig, INEFC student and university sport player, and Eliana Sabreen, Dentistry student at the UB within the Support Program of the University of Barcelona for Refugees and People from Conflict Areas.

“Our university needs resources to maintain the buildings, facilities for research and teaching, and to face the digital transformation a leading institution like the UB needs in the 21st century. After investing about the 10 % of our needs year after year, the situation is almost unbearable”, stated Joan Elias. The rector highlighted that the most urgent challenge for the Catalan university system is “getting a finance model that, apart from guaranteeing financial competences, sets incentives and resources for a strategic plan of the university model we want to promote”.

Despite the difficulties, the rector highlighted the several achievements of the University and mentioned, for instance, the presence of researchers of the UB among the most cited worldwide. Regarding the staff, he touched on the strategic lines of the definition of academic career regarding teaching, research and management; reduction of short-term nature and partial dedication linked to structural needs, and the generational succession regarding the shortcomings and needs in the departments. Regarding PAS, he noted that the two main objectives are developing a stabilization plan and improving contract processes.

Resilience, dedication and rigor

At the end of the speech, Joan Elias mentioned the “unlucky cases that made people doubt on the rigor and honor of public universities”. “At the same time we state our trust in the university system, we express a total rejection towards any intention of falsification or mala praxis leading to any obtaining of a university diploma”, he noted. “Do not doubt the culture of our higher education centers lies on resilience, dedication, rigour and transparency, because we are aware this is a public service, and we have to be held accountable to society”, he said. Elias considered “an intangible we have to keep: reputation, prestige and the credibility of the University” as the essential element of the university’s heritage.

Francesc Xavier Grau, Secretary for Universities and Research, reminded the attendants that the system that was designed to concede resources to the universities led to “trusting the results, and this creates a lot of competitiveness”. “Now more than ever, Catalonia needs its research university system”, Grau said, and defined the UB as the “cornerstone of the university system”. “Only a society based on knowledge can sustain a more fair society that is more supportive with the other countries”. Among the essential governing actions, he listed the need to reverse the deficit situation, and highlighted the problems on generational succession, equity in degree access and selection, and renewal of infrastructures.

The President of the Board of Trustees, Joan Corominas, claimed for a “broad and cross-sectional political consensus to improve the main needs in the university system”, and listed three aspects he considers to be fundamental: a finance model “that places us in the standards of the EU-15 counties”, a staff policy to face the generational succession and an investment plan.

Tugores claimed we have to “spur complementarity instead of accentuating contraposition aspects”, among concepts such as efficiency and equity, competitiveness and cohesion, markets and public authorities. Also, he defended a “reasonable balance” in the debate on globalization, so as to avoid excess of overglobalization and other unilateral proposals.

Ten years after the crisis

During the opening lecture, Joan Tugores reflected on the challenges the world economy has to face ten years after the financial crisis that appeared in 2008, “according to all indicators, the most severe international crisis since the one in 1929”. The economist structured his speech in three blocs: saving and investment and the role of the financial system, productivity, and income distribution.

Sports and support, university values

The student Violeta de Puig talked on behalf of the university students who combine studies and sports, and defended values like “effort and being constant”. She also encouraged students to take part in the University Championships in Catalonia and the Unirun, which are coordinated by the UB. Eliana Sabreen explained her arrival in Barcelona from Syria two years ago, with doubts and fears, and explained how lecturers helped her to overcome her problems. “I am proud of being a student in this University”, she said, and added that “I wouldn’t have imagined welcoming the new academic year”. She concluded: “I hope to be able to help people being happier when I finish my degree”.

Maite Vilalta, Vice-Rector for Equal Opportunities and Social Action took part in the ceremony, and presented the report for the academic year 2017-2018. Also, the teaching staff and administration and services staff who retired last year received the medals of the University of Barcelona. The ceremony ended with a performance by the Choir of the UB.

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