Monday, 16 July 2012

Back to the dark days

Back to the dark days

Public financing of universities in Spain will be cut by more than half at the end of 2012. And, in 2015, the Spanish government will reduce public expenditure in education to 3.9 per cent of GPD.

Spain is currently placed among those countries with low public expenditure in education. That situation may not change for decades, particularly after the cuts and reforms carried out by the conservative government.

 

5% of GDP in 2009

The highest level of public expenditure in education occurred in 2009 when Spain reached 5.01 per cent of GPD. Of that, 1.14 per cent of GPD was public expenditure in Higher Education. Since education in Spain is decentralised, regions are the main source of financing for public universities, although funding comes also from Central Government and other public and private sources, including student fees.

Cuts in university funding started in 2009 and we can identify three types:

 

i) Regional cuts before the Popular Party won the general elections

Regional cuts were applied between 2009 and 2011 together with those included in the initial intended budgets for 2012. These cuts have been deeper in regions governed by right-wing parties and have been intensified as nearly all regions were in conservative hands after 2011's regional elections. Because of the lack of comparative statistics after 2009, CCOO-Enseñanza has analysed the regional budgets. It found that regional ministries of education have reduced university financing by €800 million. This is an underestimation because we have not taken into account other regional sources of financing.

 

ii) Deficit target

As part of its deficit target, in April, Central Government imposed very severe 'measures' on the regions. These were included in the "National Stability Programme 2012-2015" and imply the reform of regional budgets for 2012. In addition to the unsustainable cuts mentioned above, regions will have to reduce university funding by another €2.3 million in 2012. This amount is equivalent to one-third of public funds supplied to public universities in 2009!

 

iii) Central Government cuts

Funds from Central Government, outlined in the General Budget, have been cut in 2012 by another €250 million (63 per cent). That, together with the decrease in other programmes and grants, amounts to a reduction of approximately €400 million. It is worth noting that the increase in fees imposed by Central Government on the regions matches the amount of grant cuts in the General Budget for 2012.

So, the terrible fact is that that public university funding in Spain will have been reduced by 54 per cent between 2009 and 2012.

 

New measures and cuts in July 2012

But our government has not stopped yet. Just 10 days after the General Budget for 2012 was approved, a new set of "measures" was announced. For instance, our Christmas "extra" pay has been cut. This means another seven per cent reduction in public servants' salaries on top of the 7.5 per cent reduction that teachers suffered in 2010.

 

Back to 1987 figures

Many of those figures are hidden among budgets, decrees and documents. But what is really clear from the "National Stability Programme 2012-2015" is that the Spanish conservative government intends to reduce public expenditure in education to 3.9% of GPD in 2015. This takes us back to 1987, wiping out all progress in education achieved during the past 25 years.

And our government is not ashamed. On the contrary, they appear happy when they announce all the cuts and reforms that Spanish society cannot stand because these
cuts impoverish us and brings us back to the very dark days of our past.

Last modified on Monday, 16 July 2012
María Luisa Sánchez Simón

María Luisa Sánchez Simón is an advisor on higher education for the Spanish teachers' federation, FECCOO. At the regional level in Galicia, she is a member of the executive board of CCOO. She is also a professor of fluid mechanics at the University of La Coruña, Spain.

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