The Social Councils of the public universities of Castilla y León have not been renewed for more than two years, exceeding the mandatory time set in the Autonomous University Law for the duration of their mandate. The justification raised by the previous Government of PP and Citizens was the pandemic and its effects on the higher education system, but now the renewal encounters another additional obstacle, Vox’s request for a representative ‘quota’ in them.
These Social Councils are established in the Law on Universities of Castilla y León, and their powers are important. They have the power to approve, or deny, the budgets, accounts and liquidations of universities and related foundations; the creation, modification and suppression of centers and teachings as well as the regulations on the progress of the course and permanence of the students, the agreements and agreements signed by each university and the relations with the social, economic and political environment, among others.
Each of them is made up of 30 people, including the rectors and managers of each university and representatives of the university bodies. A dozen members are appointed from the unions and employers, six each, three appointed by the Cortes of Castilla y León, two by the Ministry of Economy through its entities and another six are “members of recognized prestige in the world of culture at the proposal of the Ministry of Education and Culture”. The name of the president is a direct appointment of the Autonomous Government Council. Currently the Ministry of Education is in the hands of the PP, with Rocío Lucas at the helm, and that of Culture in the hands of Vox, with the controversial Gonzalo Santonja as advisor. And Vox, according to popular sources, has demanded its ‘quota’ among the members for these bodies from the universities of León, Salamanca, Valladolid and Burgos, including a president of one of the four social councils.
The PP has tried Vox to accept that the presidents be appointed by Education, in exchange for Vox having a relevant proposal capacity in the members, but for now, popular sources point out, those of García-Gallardo are reluctant not to decide the name of any president of the Social Council, since the formation of Santiago Abascal has understood that his presence in the Junta de Castilla y León means that one must be present in positions such as the presidencies of the Social Councils. Among the appointments from Education there are names of all kinds, including some politicians such as the case of the historical socialist Juan José Laborda at the University of Burgos or the former deputy of Ciudadanos Soraya Mayo at the University of Valladolid. From the Ministry of Education directed by Rocío Lucas, there has been no response at the time of publication to a request for a response to deadlines and the Vox ‘quota’ requested by this newspaper.
Currently the four presidents of the social councils are Ignacio Sánchez Galán, president of Iberdrola, at the University of Salamanca; the president of the León businessmen at the university of the same name, Javier Cepedano; at the University of Valladolid, the position is held by the journalist and executive of Vocento, Óscar Campillo; and in Burgos, Luis Abril, a historical ex-director of Telefónica and Banesto, has the functions. University sources consulted indicate that in all cases the universities would be satisfied with the renewal of the current names, which can be carried out for successive mandates of 4 years indefinitely.
From the universities it is recognized that the lack of renewal of the Social Councils has generated problems when carrying out their functions and that their need for renewal has been transferred on numerous occasions to the Ministry of Education, since the legal deadline it is vastly outnumbered. In some universities, they detail cases such as members who have not appeared for years at face-to-face or virtual meetings, people who have changed the organization that designated them, as well as others who, due to various circumstances, have stopped appearing at meetings.
Given the dragging situation of the Social Councils, the University of Burgos requested a report from the Consultative Council of Castilla y León asking it to analyze the situation and how it can affect the approval of the powers of the Social Councils. As elDiario.es has been able to learn, the body’s response has not been definitive, requesting more information in order to express whether this lack of renewal affects the legitimacy of the body’s decisions. The PSOE already complained in a letter at the time to the Ministry asking that the matter be resolved, although months have passed and the situation remains unresolved.
The university reform that is being processed in the Cortes Generales contemplates a change in the composition of the Social Councils, so that if the current wording is maintained, all its members will be elected by the corresponding regional parliaments.