Mr. Jordi Baiget has been appointed Minister for Enterprise and Knowledge within the new Catalan government under President Puigdemont rule. Therefore, Mr. Baiget assumes the responsibility of managing the Catalan University System, consisting of 12 universities.
To mention University System outcomes means to speak of higher education, training of human resources of a country, talent attraction, professional profiles and employability, research, bridging the gap between research and market solutions, life-long learning, internationalization, culture, knowledge, productivity and a long list of questions that allow a society to create wealth and wellbeing, spread it and to get better connected in an ever-changing, complex and interconnected world.
Every society needs a higher education system with a real impact. That is way proper governments tend to have a specific Ministry or Department which assumes this responsibility.
It is clear that such an important issue to a country’s future like governance and management of its education system is neither easy nor obvious. We think Minister Jordi Baiget will appreciate the following brief comments. We try to focus on the main challenges the Catalan University System is facing and must address if it wants to be a real tool to serve society.
- To resolve the debate on whether university degrees should last 4 years, 3 + 2 or 4 + 1, and to do so in the sense of allowing different durations putting at the center of decision employability of graduates, not University internal affairs.
- To define a range where there is a greater presence of generalist degrees, implying a reduction in routes of entry to the University System -number of degrees- while provide greater opportunities for specialization (less options to get in, more leaving options).
- To recover 2007 public spending levels on higher education, at least.
- To make the Catalan University System truly international, far beyond the usual well-established programs such as Erasmus.
- To ensure the employability after higher education, especially university graduates, making better use of synergies with the business side.
- To approach decidedly different types of higher education, including vocational training and university training, betting integrated higher education campus.
- To encourage universities to put in place their own fundraising schemes in order to ensure their financial autonomy in future.
- To size down the number of university degrees now offered, enabling those with low demand to find the formula to become more attractive to students.
- To promote greater presence -in number of students, for instance- of post graduate training offer in front of degree training.
- To ensure the universities ability to retain their alumni and to attract new students through life-long learning programs.
Finally, we wish Mr. Jordi Baiget to gain momentum, luck and success at the head of the Enterprise and Knowledge Ministry in the new Catalan Government.