Due to the result of the last Catalan elections in September 2015 and, consequently, the appointment of a new Catalan government, the structure of the governmental bodies focused to research, universities and the knowledge society has been modified.The most prominent highline is their departmental restructuration since the whole structure is again attached to the Catalan Ministry of Enterprise, following the same structure of the last left-wing Catalan government (2006-2010), when they decided to merge the former Ministry of Universities, Research and Society Information (DURSI) with the areas of Business and Commerce. In 2010, however, universities had been attached to the Catalan Ministry of Economy and Knowledge, probably due to the professional profile of Andreu Mas-Colell, first Ministry of the DURSI, a personality who perfectly synthesizes both government areas having been Professor of Economics at the most prestigious American Universities (Berkeley, Harvard) and Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) too.
The update of the old 2006 initiative for merging business and universities could be read as the last attempt to boost collaboration between universities and the private sector, a topic which is crucial to face knowledge society challenges.
As for the structure of the Ministry of Universities and Research remains the same, with 3 individual General Directions focused on the areas of Universities, Research and the University Council of Catalonia, with two affiliated entities: the Agency for Quality in the University System Catalonia (AQU) and the Agency for University and Research Grants (AGAUR).
Arcadi Navarro (Sabadell, 1969) replaces Lluís Jofre as the General Secretary of Universities and Research, who was temporarily in charge of it for two months replacing the now MP of the Catalan Parliament and leader of Demòcrates de Catalunya, Antoni Castellà. Navarro has been professor at the Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies in Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) and ran also the Node on Population Genomics at the Spanish National Bioinformatics Institute, based in Madrid.
Josep Pallarès (1967), will be the new Director General of Universities. Professor of Electronic Technology at the Rovira i Virgili University (URV), until now was Vice Chancellor for Academic Policy and Faculty in the same institution. The General Direction devoted to research continues with Josep Maria Martorell (1975) at the helm. Martorell has been assistant professor of physics at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) and belongs to Demòcrates de Catalunya, as the new secretary general of the Inter-University Council of Catalonia, Maria Mercè Jou (1962), who had been deputy spokesman of CiU in the Catalan Parliament until 2015. Jou, an economist by profession, has twenty years of experience within the Catalan government.
As we appointed in a previous post dedicated to the new ‘Conseller’, the challenges of this department are highly demanding. The university-business relationship has always been a hard issue to deal with, especially in the case of public universities. Fortunately, graduates employability and R+D demands of the business sector have been recently placed at the core. At U·TRANS we consider that it should be the guiding light for public policies concerning the Catalan university system.