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The appearance of the Governor of the Bank of Spain and the challenges of university education

un grup d'homes asseguts a una taula davant d'un micròfon i papers davant d'ells amb banderes, Carlos Trillo Nom, oli, una foto d'estoc, premsa privada

The appearance of the Governor of the Bank of Spain

Last week took place the appearance that the Governor of the Bank of Spain made regularly to the Economy Committee of the Congress of Deputies. This was his last appearance, as Hernández De Cos has been in office for almost six years and his term at the head of the monetary institution ends this July.

The challenges of university education

In his appearance, De Cos discussed, among others, a very relevant issue in relation to university education that should undoubtedly make us all reflect: the fact that in the face-to-face public university the offer of degrees and subjects seem to be reacting in a very limited way to the requirements and needs of companies, which could end up negatively affecting equal opportunities.

The importance of adapting the university offer

It is common to hear in the public debate that the university should not be an institution mainly focused on training qualified personnel to meet the labor demand of the profiles that companies are looking for. The main problem with this argument is that not adapting training profiles to work needs can have a negative impact on equal opportunities. If we look at the enrollment data by type of public or private university, coming from the database of the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, we can observe two enormously divergent trends. While enrollments in private universities have not stopped growing and have multiplied by almost 2.4 compared to the figure at the beginning of the century, enrollments in public higher education centers have decreased by 25% in the same period , and are at levels of the early 1990s.

The risk of inequality of opportunities

These figures lead us to conclude that if the public university does not adapt its offer of places to the needs of the labor market, or does so very slowly, the private universities will fill this gap, since they do have all the incentives to do so because their income is directly linked to tuition fees and, consequently, to the labor demand of their university graduates. Therefore, if this trend continues, we could find ourselves in a scenario where those who cannot bear the cost of the educational services of the private university would be left without access to the degrees with the best exit from the labor market.

The importance of the public university as an equalizer of opportunities

Strengthening the public university as a truly equalizing institution in terms of income means giving the same opportunities to those who cannot afford the costs of the training profiles offered by private centers, and this should also involve changes in the curricular structure and degree offer when a discrepancy is detected between what is offered and what is being demanded. Undoubtedly, for this to materialize quickly, it is necessary to undertake reforms in matters of governance and university autonomy that grant higher levels of flexibility to higher education institutions.

The legacy of Hernández De Cos

In this issue and in many others, the mandate of Hernández de Cos has been characterized by a profile with a desire to diagnose the main problems of the Spanish economy and society, with a conciliatory will, but at the same time critical of certain actions and policies by the public authorities. It is important that those in charge of appointing his successor take into account the prestige he has given to his position and to the institution, and that they look for a consensus candidate with similar characteristics.

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