Monday, February 26

The nightmare of homologating foreign university degrees: “We are asking for the law to be complied with”


María Theoktisto is 35 years old and has recently worked as an administrative assistant. She says that she goes to therapy and takes medication to deal with the depression and anxiety that she suffers while she waits for the homologation of the professional title that allows her to practice as a psychologist in Spain. She is from Panama and arrived in Madrid in 2016 after obtaining a scholarship from the Ministry of Education of her country to pursue a master’s degree at the Complutense University.

Young immigrants who have obtained their first contract after the reform of the Immigration Regulations

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The process began in March 2019 and, since then, has lived in uncertainty. Like María, thousands of foreign professionals are waiting for the resolutions that will allow them to practice as doctors, psychologists, dentists, nurses, engineers, among others. This Friday, dozens of them gathered in front of the Ministry of Universities to denounce the delays in the resolution of the homologations. Although the current royal decree establishes a maximum period of nine months -six to resolve and notify the resolution of the procedure from the registration of the application and three for the issuance of a technical report-, the lack of personnel and the deficiencies in the computer system prevent deadlines from being met. To this is added that the homologation process presents different obstacles and demands depending on each university degree.

María’s administrative work has restored “the dignity” that she felt lost by not finding a job in this country, she says, although she hopes to return to her profession. “I have a very big duel because I am not doing what I like. I collaborate with a foundation here and do art therapy workshops once a week, somehow I haven’t completely disconnected, although I don’t have that look that accompanies me to discuss cases, ”she says in a conversation with elDiario.es.



For Jersey Ferrera, a 30-year-old Dominican doctor, the situation is no different. She began the process of homologation of her degree in 2020 with the intention of studying the training of the Internal Resident Physician (MIR) in Spain. However, her delays have not allowed her to take the exam so far.

In his case, 22 months after submitting his documentation, in June of this year, they asked him for a letter certifying that his documents are original, despite being legalized. “They asked me as a requirement for the truth letter, which says that we affirm that our documents are not false when each one is legalized, apostilled and certified by the Spanish embassy in the Dominican Republic,” he questions.

Stress, overwhelm and discouragement have become part of his day to day due to the difficulties in studying his medical specialization. Added to this are the barriers to getting a job due to the lack of a degree and the absence of responses from the Ministry led by Joan Subirats. “The Ministry does not give us any answer. They have several emails that they answer you with a copy and paste. ‘You have to stay tuned,’ that’s what they say or they can’t give you information,” he assures.



The HT Lawyers firm, specialists in the homologation of foreign titles, considers that the system “has never been as bad” as it is now, for this reason, they summarize the problems in four aspects: few staff, a computer system in poor condition, poor organization and “obscurantism” because “they do not receive” those affected or communicate with them.

“The system is made in such a way that if the citizen has doubts, he does not have a telephone to call because nobody answers him. You can send an email and nobody responds or they send you some kind of cumbersome questionnaire that gives you no information at all. There is darkness. People feel totally helpless”, they maintain.

Tests

Dental professionals are not exempt from complications. Camila Rodríguez is an Argentine dentist who submitted her file four years ago. After this period, she received a first resolution in which she was required to pass six pending subjects. She took the homologation exam in October 2021. “I accepted this resolution because I am not the person I am today and I was not as informed,” she says.

The evaluation, which was the same for all of Spain, lasted 35 minutes and did not have a bibliography, as highlighted. “This exam got a 95% pass rate. We were not given the right to correction. We had 15 days to claim if a question was poorly worded, but we had no way of remembering the questions. If you don’t get the exam, you can’t cancel anything.”

From HT lawyers they explain that in the case of dentistry, approvals are conditional on “a series of exams”. “People have a legal term of six years to pass the test, but the authorities refuse to even examine them. The argument is clear: avoid competition to the Spanish dentist”.

“We ask that the Law be complied with”

Camila has had better luck and works as a dental assistant in Barcelona. It is no longer four, it is six years since she is waiting for her final resolution. “I feel that there is a very great malice. We are not asking for any miracle, we are asking for the Law to be fulfilled”, she emphasizes.

“A blind process”. This is how the Argentine psychologist and representative of the Movement of Migrant Psychologists José María Casas considers it, who highlights the need for it to be “fair” and that “the law is complied with”, which stipulates a maximum of nine months. In addition, he denounces the treatment received by some officials. “They tell you that your titles are not worth it, that why are you going to ask for homologation if it is not going to work out for you. People tell us when they come and we have to be there, put the body, listen to it, contain it”.



María (fictitious name) is Spanish and has the same problem. The young woman, who prefers not to reveal her identity, feels that she has been “penalized for having migrated.” She has been trying to homologate her degree in Psychology for three years after studying at The Open University, in the United Kingdom. “The feeling is that they penalize mobility and something that should be a value, living in different countries, adding perspectives, everything that should be seen as something enriching, it’s like they penalize you for having left Spain and daring to return”, highlights. For her, the delays in her approval process make her question “what interests are behind it.”

In October 2021, during the management of Manuel Castells, the draft of a royal decree was presented in which the conditions and procedures for homologation and equivalence of degrees and validation of university education from foreign educational systems are established. The objective is to limit this process to a maximum period of six months. However, it leaves out the files currently being processed because they have been carried out under other regulations. One year after this announcement, the draft is in the Council of State for its opinion.

From the Ministry of Universities they recognize the existing problems in this procedure. According to their defense, they are working on several fronts to reduce the delay in the process, among them, in the digitization of the reception of files and their processing; in a shock plan to increase the troops assigned to the opening and processing of files within the corresponding subdirectorate and in the approval of the royal decree that simplifies the administrative procedure.

Despite the agreement that exists between Spain and Latin American countries such as Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador, Panama and Peru for the recognition of professional titles and academic degrees, delays continue to harm professionals who live in this country. The lack of answers, the loss of documentation, the double payment of fees and the non-existence of electronic notifications are just some of the problems highlighted by those affected, who ask to do away with bureaucratic obstacles to have the possibility of working in the profession for which they are formed.



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