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Changes in Spanish Universities: Improvements and Unsolved Conflicts


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Explores changes in Spanish higher education, including leaving state control behind, becoming a mass higher education system, increasing resources and research, changing role of academics, changing curriculum, and assessment and accountability. Discusses remaining problems, including poor attention to the customer, a single model of university, obsolete status for academic staff, limitations on students, and excessive power of academics. (EV)
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Ghanges in Spanish
Improvements and lJnsolved Conflicts
I,Vhite the Spankh system of higher education has taken great stridesforward in the last two
decades, there is sttll roomfor improuement.
by Josó-Ginós Mora and JavierVidal
n the last two decades, Spain has experienced a period of
profound social, political, and economic changes that have
affected the higher education system considerably. These
changes have taken place over a short period of time, creating
a dynamic situation. Although the consequences of most of
these changes have been eKremely positive, some unintend-
ed negative effects have also occurred.
Josó_Ginós Mora is professor, Depart-
ment of Applied Economics, at the Univer-
sity o{ Vatencia. Hrs iield is economics of
education and higher education. He has
served as advisor of the Spanish Council
of Universities for the last 10 years.
JavierVidal is professor, Department of
Education, at the University'of León. Cur-
rently, he is acting as director of the i', ,l
Office for Ouality Assurance.
Legal Framework:
Leaving State Control Behind
The University Reform Acror Ley de Reforma Universitaria
(LRU) established the current structure of higher education in
1983. This act brought about great changes in the legal frame'
work of Spanish universities, whiń until then had been whol-
ly regulated by the central Ministry of Education
(Garcia-Garrido 1992: Mora 1997a). Following are the main
changes the LRU introduced:
. Universities became autonomous entities.
o Direct responsibility for universities was transferred from
the central government to the 17 autonomous regions.
o The establishment of private universities was permitted.
Under the new legal structure, power over the universi-
ties is shared by the following:
Planning for Higher Education
. Central government, which is responsible for general and
legal issues concerning universities and staff, most of
whom are tenured civil servants
. Begional governments, which are responsible for financ-
ing public universities and planning higher education in
the regron
. Universitres, whidr make decisions on internal organization,
program cunicula and syllabi, staff recruitment (restricted
by the general rules for civil servants), the organization of
teaching and research, and internal budgeting
After the LRU, universities were no longer dependent on the
state and became collegial structures in the sense of Clark
(i983). Decision-making power was transferred to collegiate
bodies in which
nonacademic staff
and students
make up a consid-
erable percentage
(roughly one-
third). The Univer-
sity Senate also
has considerable
powel including
the election of the
rector. (Although
the position of
rector is formally
similar to presi-
dents at American
universities, their real power is rather lower.) Boards with
large numbers of members make decisions on faculties and
departments, and elect deans and heads of departments. The
Social Council (based on the pattern of boards of trustees in
Josó_Ginós Mora and JavierMdal
Becoming a Mass Higher Education System
The increase in the number of higher education students in
recent decades has been dramatic (table 1). However, the
increase has slowed in recent years due to the remarkable
reduction in the size of the cohort of youths reaching higher
education age.
The Spanish higher education system has become a
mass system, with increasing proportions of people enrolling
in higher education institutions (table 2). The gross enrollment
quota for the 18-to-23-yearold population is 41 percent, and
the percentage of new entrants in higher education among
the 18-year-old population is 55 percent.
The growth of higher education has been a demand-
driven process. It is hard to find policy documents from either
governments or universities promoting the groMh of the high-
er educątion SVStem' The social demand has been the com-
pelling Bngine of growth. However, governments have poured
resources into the system to compensate for the growth of
students (especially since higher education was a responsibili-
ty of regional governments). Though universities were not
enthusiastic about the fast growth of students, they took
advantage of this growth to obtain greater numbers of staff,
more economic resources, and greater social prominence.
Access to higher education is relatively open to all social
classes. An analysis of the socioeconomic background of
higher education students shows a fair representation of
youths from middle- and upper-class groups (table 3). Youths
from lower socioeconomic groups (unskilled, agricultural, and
industrial workers) also have significant access to higher edu-
cation, though they are still underrepresented (Mora 1997b).
On the other hand, the proportion of women among higher
education students surpasses the proportion of men. ln i970,
the proportion of women enrolled in higher education was
taote I
:: Number of Higher
: Education Students
Number of
Year Students
.i: l
illir r
l 198G€1
r 1990-91
I tggz-g8
Source: Consejo de Unirrersidades (sevaral years)
other university systems) was estab-
lished as an external body representing
the wider interests of society in the uni-
versity. Nevertheless, the real influence
of thrs body is cluite linrited, due to a
lack oi tracjrtiorr and an unclear legal def-
inition of rts role l\ccordrng to the crite-
ria used by McDaniel (1996), Spanish
universities have a similar level of auton-
omy to those of the Netherlands and
Sweden, less than Anglo-Saxon coun-
tries but more than most of the Euro-
pean continenlal countries.
Table 2
Rate of Participation in Higher Education
New Entrants/
18-Year-Old Total Students/
Year , Population Population
Source: Mora, Garcfa-Montalvo, and Garcia-Aracil (2000)
16 Winter 2000-2001
just 26 percent, but by 1986 numbers reached 50 percent and
have continued to increase to currently stand at 54 percent of
the higher education population.
lncreasing Resources
Before the LRU, expenditures at public universities were
mere items in the budget of the central government. The LBU
Changes in Spanish Universities: lmprovements and
Unsolved Conflicts
Given this considerable increase, it would be interesting
to analyze the forces that have driven it. lt is quite obvious
that the rise in available resources has been substantial. How-
ever, in our view, the key has been the way in which these
resources have been distributed. Several factors have stimu-
lated and given prestige to the research activity of the teach-
ing staff: competitiveness for funds, independent assessment
of projects, the prestige attached to obtaining the funds, and
represented the beginning of a profound
financial cfrange. Under the current
financial model, regional governments
grant funds to universities as a lump
sum. Universities are free to allocate
these funds internally. However, univer-
sities control neither the main expendi-
ture item (salaries are determined by
central government) nor the main
sources of income (appropriations and
tuition fees) that regional governments
Table 3
Socioeconońic Background of the You n g Population
{by occupation of the household's main breadwinnerl
ln Population
as aWhole ln Higher
Not only did the financial system 'r
dlange after the LRU, the total amount l
of funds devoted to universities
increased enormously. ln 1997 total
higher education expenditures in Spain l
reached '1.2 percent (OECD 2000).This expenditure is similar
to most European countries but smaller than the U.S. figure
of 2.5 percent. However, the remarkable fact is that the
increase has been substantial in just a fewyears; in 1985, the
total expenditure in higher education was only 0.54 percent oi
the gross domestic product (Mora and Garcia-Aracil 1999).
lncreasing Research ActivĘ
There has been an explosive growth both qualitatively and
quantitatively in the research capacities of Spanish universi-
ties.Two outstanding facts relate to researdt in Spain in gen-
eral, most of which has been carried out at universities. ln
1986 the percentage of the Spanish gross domestic prociuct
invested in research and development was 0.55 This percent-
age rose to 0.91 in 1993, though it has remained stable since
then. ln addition, the Spanish share in worldwide scientific
production rose from 0.9 percent in 1984 to 2.51 percent in
1998 (Oficina de Ciencia yTecnologia 1999). Although there is
room for increase in both of these figures (investment and
outcome), the result to date can certainly be considered a
tremendous success for Spanish universities.
the introduction of a system of evaluation of each researcher.
Another situation that should be analyzed is the extent to
which this development of research activities, along with a
lack of similar incentives for teaching, may be impairing the
effort that universities devote to teaching, which undoubtedly
is the most important function of universities.
The Changing Role of Academics
Before the LRU, tenured academics were members of nation-
al bodies. They changed from one university to another
depending on the vacancies.The internal organization of the
universities was extremely hierarchical. The basic unit was
the chair occupred by a chairman (very rai-ely by a chari'rvonran
at that time) who headed all teaching, research. and (irr fact)
personnel issues. The labor status of the rest of the academ-
ics, whiń was considered to be provisional, WaS consequent_
ly rather poor (Mora 2000).
The LRU strongly changed the situation of academic staff
in the following respects:
. Departments, where several professors work together
and share teaching and research activities, replaced the
former chairs.
Agricultural workers
Unskilled workers
Skilled industrial workers
Service sector workers
Agricultural employers
Professionals and employers
Source: Mora (1997b)
Planning for Higher Education 17
The [Jniversity Reform Act established
the current structure of higher education
regular program. These programs are completely market-ori-
ented. Students pay the full costs of the program, although in
some cases public or private corporations or foundations suq
port these courses. Teachers in these programs receive fees
in addition to their salaries. This parallel market-oriented sector
Professors became members of universities where they
worked instead of members of rational bodies.
Rules for the selection of professors changed, transfer-
ring significant power to the university with the vacancy.
A new structure of professorships and nontenured per-
sonnel was established.
A reasonable increase in academic staff salaries made
academic careers more attractive.
Changing the Cuniculum
The traditional organization of coursework in Spanish universi-
ties was a consequence of the centralized system, which
existed before the LRU. Curricula were fixed, almost identical
in every university, and had a very limited proportion of option-
al courses. Courses were also strongly based on theory, leav-
ing out the practical aspects. The rigidity of this system was
evident. Adaptability to society s needs, to students' curricular
demands, and to the variability of labor market demands
required substantial reform in the curriculum.This process of
reform began several years ago, when basic national criteria
for new curricula were set up. Universities were given exten-
sive freedom to develop detailed curricula based on their own
objectives. The development of new curricula was carried out
in each university in ad hoc committees for each academic
program. The new curricula have a modular structure, courses
are mostly delivered in semesters, the proportion of optional
courses is high, and practical content has been enhanced in
every course.
Universities were also allowed to set up their own pro-
grams, specific to each institution. They do not require any
kind of national validation by the Council of Universities and
are not financed through public funds. However, they are not
officially recognized as a national diploma. Most of these pro.
grams are offered to students who are already graduates in a
Josó-Ginós Mora and JavierMdal
within universities is growing rapidly, and universities are cur-
rently offering more than 2,500 programs of this type (Mora
and Vidal 2000).
Assessment and Accountability: A New
Attitude in Universities
The traditional higher education system, which the state
monopolized and completely regulated, obviously did not con-
cern itself with accountability. HoweveĘ accountability is more
necessary as the system has become more autonomous and,
along with assessment, is developing very rapidly. General-
ized assessment of individuals and institutions began in the
early 1990s. Teaching and research activities of academics are
evaluated on a regular basis. Promotion and some salary
increase depend on those assessments (Mora 2000). ln addi-
tion, after several pilot projects, the Council of Universities
estaUlished the National Program for Assessment of Ouality in
Universities (Mora 1997c; Mora andVidal 1998) with the aim
of introducing a systematic assessment of universities. After
only a few years, Spanish universities have set up new offices
to support assessment and quality assurance programs, and
thousands of people are participating in self-assessment activ-
ities and external visits around the country. Some regional
governments are also involved in these programs, even creat-
ing their own quality agencies. lt is cunently difficult to deter-
mine the impact of these programs on the Spanish higher
education system because the consequences are expected to
be seen only in the long-term. ln any case, quality assurance
is a new but unavoidable topic on the agenda of Spanish uni-
What ls Still Missing
Experts would consider most of the recent developments in
Spanish higher education to be positive for a sound higher
education system (Dill and Sporn 1996;
Meek et al. 1996). Universities have
become autonomous and are more in
tune to regional needs, their internal
structure has become flexible, the
whole system has become open and
accessible, funds have been poured into
the system as never before, curricula have become modular
and flexible, market forces have started to play a relevant role,
the system has become accountable, and so on.
It is true that the effect of these changes has been
extremely positive for the higher education system. lt would
1a Winter 200C-2001
The services Spanish universities offer
their customers are still poor. Students,
who are the most direct customers,
receive few services apart from lec-
tures, which, in too many cases, take
place in huge classes. The treatment
students receive during their stay at the
not be an overstatement to say that higher education in Spain
is today considerably better than it was two decades ago.
Nevertheless, there are still many aspects that are still miss-
ing in the higher education system.
PoorAttention to the Customer
Changes in Spanish Universities: lmprovements and
Unsolved Conflicts
that are usually neglected in the Spanish education system.
The provision of theoretical training and scholarly knowledge-
probably the easiest to supply_łoes not seem to be the most
adequate for the present labor market. The reason is that grad-
uates from Spanish universities lack some of the basic tools
that are necessary to begin their working lives easily. Although
universities cannot be made responsible for the high rates of
unemployment among the youth of Spain, the type of training
provided by them does not appear to be the best.
A Single Model of UniversitY
The LRU opted for a common model of university. Hardly any
elements were introduced to promote diversity and competi-
tiveness among and within institutions. Although the possibili-
ty of differentiation was not excluded, practice over the last
few years has led to a degree of inter- and intrainstitutional
homogeneity that is higher than is desirable. The power of the
state over universities, exerted through regulations and coor-
dination mectranisms adopted by the Ministry of Education,
has created a situation in which universities, though legally
autonomous, are seriously restrained from exercising differen-
tiation and competitiveness. And several universities have not
sought diversity and competitiveness and have shown their
fear of differentiation.
As a consequence of this uniformity, Spanish universities
do not compete for students. ln other words, they do not
compete for the financial resources that students may bring.
This is not necessary because the university access mecha-
nism and the student allocation system to the various pro-
grams guarantee that the programs are filled, no matter how
little demand there is from students or the labor market.
The clear cansequence of all these factors-the lack of
true differentiation among Spanish universities, the lack of
internal diversity, the great teacfring staff homogeneiĘ-is
that the degree of competitiveness among universities,
departments, and teaching staff is very small. lt would be nec-
essary to create some kind of stimulating competitiveness to
encourage active dynamics that help to improve the quality of
university institutions and their personnel (Clark '1997).
Before the LRU, the internal organization
of the universities was extremelY
institution is not exactly friendly. This makes the connection
between students and their university very tenuous and hin-
ders the setting up of later links through alumni associations.
Connections between universities and enterprises, the
second major customers of universities as employers of their
graduates and as bodies requiring their services, are still tenu-
ous. Active participation of employers in universities is also
limited. Even services, which have sharply increased, repre-
sent less than 5 percent of the budget for all Spanish universi-
ties. The more dynamic universities are lust starting to develop
the concept of the entrepreneurial university (Clark 1998)'
This lac* of services may be partly explained by the tradi-
tional shortage of resources' HoweveĘ it would seem that the
change from a state-controlled university to an autonomous
university has not always brought about the expected change
in the mentality of both the institution and the academics.
There seems to remain the well-established bureaucratic spir-
it so typical of civil servants.
One of the consequences of the poor attention paid to
students is that the number of dropouts and the number of
students who lag behind are very high at Spanish universities.
Three-year degrees and five-year degrees have an estimated
average duration of 5 and 7'l years, respectively, and dropout
rates are around 40 percent (Mora and Garcia-Aracil 1999).
This situation is also affected by the fact that registration fees
are very low for students, sirrce most tuition costs are
financed by the state, and by the fact that youth employment
perspectives are very discouraging.
ln addition, a university system that provides little individ-
ual attention to students due to overcrowded classes gener-
ates graduates who lack necessary skills and training. There
are certain basic aspects of university training-such as read-
ing, writing, critical thinking, and problem-solving capability-
Planning for Higher Education 19
An Obsolete Status forAcademic Staff
Spanish universities were a typical case of the Napoleonic
model, where universities were a part of the state and aca-
demics were civil servants belonging to national bodies. The
LRU changed the model, transforming universities into
autonomous institutions, but it did not dlange the status of
the academics. Academics, at least those in stable positions,
are still civil servants and members of national bodies. There
is a deep contradiction between the status of academics and
the university autonomy. For instance, candidates for tenured
positions at one university are selected by a committee of
members of the national body of professors, whiń is com_
posed of members from other (perhaps competitor) universi-
ties. ln other words, the selection of personnel at one
autonomous and independent university depends on deci-
sions undertaken by members of other universities, some.
thing radically contradictory.
There is another relevant consequence of keeping the
status of civil servant for academics. Salaries and working
conditions of academics are fixed at a national level for all the
members of the national body of professors (with differences
by categories). Commitment to work, higher productivity, or
better results cannot be negotiated and compensated at the
individual level because membership in a national body
implies the same rules for all members. How is it possible to
compensate the different levels of peńormance? ln the case
of Spain, the solution the LRU adopted was to allow "market,,
Josó_Ginós Mora and JavierVidal
ln this situation, academics have sometimes deeprooted
feelings that they belong to a generic civil servant body that
lacks a clear awareness of their duties toward the enterprise
for which they work and its customers. This feeling would
drange if academic staff members were given a different sta-
tus and other recruitment procedures were used. This problem
is not easy or quick to solve, but it should be addressed soon.
Limitations on Students
Spanish students face severe limitations in pursuing a universi-
ty education. As we have stated, university "customers" are
guaranteed irrespective of the quality of the university or the
suitability of its academic programs. Furthermore, even though
universities may make an effort to improve their quality, it is
difficult for students to respond to them due to cultural and
economic factors. The strongest economic reasons are that
part-iltne employment is not compatible with studying and,
especially, there is not a good system of student scholarships.
The present system of scholarships for Spanish students
is insufficient and unfair. The funds allocated to scholarships,
their amount, and their distribution system are absolutely
inadequate. The global endowment of scholarships for Span-
ish students is still comparatively low, in spite of having tripled
in constant currency since 1985 (Mora and Garcia-Aracil
1999). For instance, the United States, which has a university
population roughly 10 times larger than that of Spain, invests
in aid programs, scholarships, and loans for students 60 times
more than Spain. ln the Scandinavian
countries, the United Kingdom, and the
Netherlands, more than 60 percent of
students obtain financial aid, and the
average aid they receive is several
times higher than Spanish students
receive (Daniel, Schwarz, and Teichler
1999). This poor system of aid for students not only affects
the equity but also the efficiency, the mobility, and the qualiĘ
of universities.
Excessive Power of Academics
The LRU transferred decision making in universities to colle-
giate bodies. Boards with large numbers of members make
decisions for each university and department, and they elect
the rector, deans, and heads of departments.The Spanish
higher education system moved from the state, in the well
known scl'reme of Clark (1983), to a position that is rather
close to an academic oligarchy. Although market forces are
This mix between the civil servant and
market activities of Spanish academics has
contradictory consequences.
activities of academics in addition to their "civil servant', activi-
ties. Academics are allowed to assume extra activities, such
as continuing education courses (sometimes at another uni-
versity), contracting for applied research activities or consul-
tancy, and organizinq any other activity more or less related to
the pro{ession. There are rules establishing some limits for
these activities, but they are not too restrictive. This mix
between the civil servant and market activities of Spanlsh aca-
demics has contradictory consequences. lt has been a stimu-
lus for most active academics to promote many and diverse
entrepreneurial activities that are satisfying social demands
that institutions by themselves are not able to provide. at least
with enough flexibility.
20 Winter 2000-2001
gaining influence in Spanish higher education, the system is
still too far from the market (Mora 1997a).
The democratic development of Spanish universities at
the beginning of the 1980s was necessary to shake off old
bureaucratic structures and reduce direct interference from
the state. Nevertheless, in this new
scheme, academics act in many cases
as a guild that is more concerned with
how to defend its own interests than
with serving the community and its stu-
Changes in Spanish Univercities: lmprovements and
Unsolved Conflicts
These problems raise several questions:What are the
limits of university autonomyT What should be the role of gov-
ernments steering higher educationT What should be the role
of academics in governing and managing universities? Public
debate on these questions is just starting in Spain, and experts
agree that finding a correct answer to these questions is nec-
essary in addressing the problems of Spanish universities.
Nevertheless, this debate is extremely complicated and mixed
with political and sociological factors. lt comes as no surprise
that there is tension as Neave (1997 p. 9) envisioned:
lFlrom 1983 onwards reform in Spanish higher edu-
cation has successively tackled issues whiń, else-
where in Western Europe, were spaced out, and
dealt with, over a quarter century. . . . I am suggest-
ing that the move from reform iustified in the name
of participant democracy to the rigours of competi-
tion and economic efficiency is likely to be a source
of considerable tension, and not only in academia.
There are several reasons that explain the current con-
flict. University autonomy is a hot political issue everywhere'
but especially in Spain. For too many years, Spanish universi-
ties suffered the interference of a dictatorial regime. Political
democracy and university autonomy are considered synony-
mous in suń a way that autonomy is guaranteed by the con-
stitution. Consequently, academics are extremely reluctant to
admit any possible interference from anywhere outside the
institution, especially in the participation of the community in
university boards. Despite the fact that these iears have a his-
torical justification, they are unacceptable in a democratic soci-
ety. lf the community is the owner of public universities, and
the university's mission is to serve the community, how may
academics deny the right of this community to participate
actively in governing universities?
Under these circumstances. the debate on governrng and
managing universities is often vehement. Nevertheless, the
idea that new forms of governance must be introduced is
spreading, and the need for a stronger external participation in
universities is gaining popularity. The problem is to find a way
of making this participation as independent as possible of par-
tisan powers and of short-term fashions. ln the search for a
better balance of power between academics and the commu-
Those "right" policies have generated
some "wrong" effects.
dents. As McDaniel (1997) pointed out, the move from direct
state intervention to institutional autonomy should be accom-
panied by other meńanisms, such as competitiveness (for
students, staff, funds, and reputation), diversification of
resources, and increasing client power and social responsibili-
ty of institutions. These trends have not been followed
enough in Spanish universities for several reasons:
. The lack of tradition of serving the community. Coming
from a bureaucratic model, universities and staff (mostly
civil servants) consider themselves more as belonging to
a branch of the public administration than to an institution
for serving the community.
o The lack of social control over universities. Although the
LRU established the Social Council to bring external
points of view it has little influence due to the legal defi-
nition of its role.
. The lack of governmental policies on higher education.
As soon as the LRU granted direct responsibility for uni-
versities to regional governments, the main concern of
the central government was to transfer this responsibility.
HoweveĘ regional governments' With few exceptions,
have not been able to define policies on higher educa-
tion, establish goals for public institutions, or require uni-
versities to achieve some oblectives.
ln addition to governing universities, the main responsibil-
ity for managing institutions lies with academics. Although
some institutions hire professional managers for some mana-
gerial positions, they are always in dependent positions, while
nrost of the decision-nraking power lies with academics that
are temporarily occupying a managerial post. There is no evi-
dence that academics have enough knowledge or training to
act as managers. On the contrary, in general they have no
experience in the management of any type of big organiza-
tion. The result is far from a model of good practice. There is a
general feeling in Spanish higher education that the manage-
ment structure of universities must change to make them
more professional and efficient.
Planning for Higher Education 21
nity, discussions among experts are centered on two areas:
how to enhance the role of the Social Council and how to set
up a new way of electing the rector. lt is likely that iust these
two changes might bring about other desirable improvements
in the rest of the system. Many experts recommend that the
Social Council should be both formally and factually the body
in charge of universities and the body responsible for the
appointment of rectors, who should be selected according to
their managerial abilities. A new type of rector should also
introduce new managerial styles in running universities, abol_
ishing most of the power that academics currently have.
These solutions, of which more and more people today are in
favor, are not original. Six years after the establishment of the
LRU, the Spanish government asked an international team of
experts to assess the reform. This team elaborated in a report
(ISCED 1989) that presents an extraordinary insight into the
potential dangers of the reform. They proposed (at a time
when dangers were only "potential") the same changes that
we are proposing 10 years later.
Higher education in Spain has developed dramatically over the
last two decades. Generally speaking, most of the policies
implemented in Spain during this period have been adequate
and have produced remarkable improvements in the higher
education system. Nevertheless, not everything is running
smoothly. For example, those "right', policies have generated
some "wrong" effects. And some crucial issues were never
tackled and are still waiting for reforms. Generally, all the neg_
ative aspects of Spanish higher education have something in
common: they are related to the almost exclusive influence of
academics in the definition of the role of the higher education
system and in the implementation of the policies defined
mostly by themselves. This excessive influence is a conse-
quence of the limited influence of other agents and the lac* of
a more resolute introduction of market forces into the higher
education system. These two problems have not stimulated
universities to greater responsiveness to social needs. On the
contrary, universities have taken advantage of the fragmenta-
tion of regronal governments and lack of competition to
increase their privileges. To provide a better service to society
Spanish universities must face a new dlallenge: to make the
whole system more oriented to social demands and to reduce
the influence of academics. r$t
Josó-Ginós Mora and JavierMdal
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Planning for Higher Education
... The legal reforms also had the effect of democratising the internal structures of universities by transferring power from the state bureaucracy to university level governing bodies (Mora, 1999). The main changes brought about by the LRU are summarised by Mora and Vidal (2000) as follows: ...
... In the period between the introduction of the LRU and the introduction of the LOU, several major problems emerged. One of them was that student numbers in the HE system more than doubled (Mora & Vidal, 2000;Langa & David, 2006). At the beginning of the 1980s total student numbers were 649,000 but by the turn of the century this had grown to 1,579,000. ...
Accounting education is part of the wider system of higher education provision that in many individual countries has been the subject of an increasing rate of change but it is unclear to what extent these external changes have influenced the delivery of accounting education. The paper uses an institutional theory approach (Meyer & Rowan, 1977; DiMaggio & Powell, 1983; Powell & DiMaggio, 1991) to analyse the pressures exerted by the external institutional constituents on the Spanish higher education system in order to implement the European Higher Education Area. Specifically, the paper analyses the changes caused by these pressures on accounting education, as well as the reactions and behaviours of accounting educators to those changes. It is based on a longitudinal case study at the Department of Accounting of the University of Seville. The case study uses multiple sources including interviews, participant observation, informal discussions and documents. The results evidence the importance of coercive isomorphism on the structuring of the Spanish university system, some factors that have hindered the development of the normative isomorphism in accounting education, and the relevance of regulatory legitimacy to academic career prospects of accounting educators.
... As well as altering the control over universities, the 1983 University Reform Act resulted in a move from elite to mass higher education (Mora and Vidal, 2000;Langa and David, 2006). At the beginning of the 1980s, the total number of students in the university sector was 649,000, whereas 1,505,100 students were enrolled in universities in 2006/07 (Santiago et al., 2009). ...
... At the beginning of the 1980s, the total number of students in the university sector was 649,000, whereas 1,505,100 students were enrolled in universities in 2006/07 (Santiago et al., 2009). Furthermore, the social composition of universities has changed with female students representing an increasing percentage of the student body: more specifically, females now account for over 50% of all students compared to 26% in 1970 (Mora and Vidal, 2000;Rosado and David, 2006). Mora and Villarreal (1996) attribute much of the growth in university participation to demographic factors and to the open door admissions policy operated by universities. ...
Full-text available
Understanding the motives, expectations and preparedness of students is important for accounting educators, as they seek to develop learning environments that promote high quality learning outcomes. This paper examines these factors with a sample of entry level students on a Business and Management degree at a Spanish university. The study also explores the influence of these antecedent variables on academic performance in the first accounting module. The data were collected using a Spanish version of the MEPU questionnaire, which was developed by Byrne and Flood (2005 and 2007). The analysis revealed that students are motivated by a combination of intrinsic and vocationally-oriented factors and feel well prepared for higher education. Interest in accounting, experience of the subject at school, academic self-confidence and university access scores were all significantly correlated with performance. Some interesting gender differences were identified and variation among regular and repeating students was also examined.
... As well as altering the control over universities, the 1983 University Reform Act resulted in a move from elite to mass higher education (Mora and Vidal, 2000;Langa and David, 2006). At the beginning of the 1980s, the total number of students in the university sector was 649,000, whereas 1,505,100 students were enrolled in universities in 2006/07 (Santiago et al., 2009). ...
... At the beginning of the 1980s, the total number of students in the university sector was 649,000, whereas 1,505,100 students were enrolled in universities in 2006/07 (Santiago et al., 2009). Furthermore, the social composition of universities has changed with female students representing an increasing percentage of the student body: more specifically, females now account for over 50% of all students compared to 26% in 1970 (Mora and Vidal, 2000;Rosado and David, 2006). Mora and Villarreal (1996) attribute much of the growth in university participation to demographic factors and to the open door admissions policy operated by universities. ...
Full-text available
Understanding the motives, expectations and preparedness of students is important for accounting educators, as they seek to develop learning environments that promote high quality learning outcomes. This paper examines these factors with a sample of entry level students on a Business and Management degree at a Spanish university. The study also explores the influence of these antecedent variables on academic performance in the first accounting module. The data were collected using a Spanish version of the MEPU questionnaire, which was developed by Byrne and Flood (2005 and 2007). The analysis revealed that students are motivated by a combination of intrinsic and vocationally-oriented factors and feel well prepared for higher education. Interest in accounting, experience of the subject at school, academic self-confidence and university access scores were all significantly correlated with performance. Some interesting gender differences were identified and variation among regular and repeating students was also examined.
... International studies show that university institutions are concerned about the high rates of unemployment recorded and have thus begun conducting surveys of graduates (Gomez Rodriguez, Ortiz Muñoz, & Gonzalez Fernandez, 2017) (Sole-Moro, Sanchez-Torres, Arroyo-Cañada, & Argila-Irurita, 2018) (Jaramillo, Pineda, & Ortiz Correa, Estudios sobre egresados La experiencia de la Universidad EAFIT, 2006). In principle, these studies have focused more on the graduates' labour situation than on the training received; however, this second topic has gradually gained importance (Mora & Vidal, 2001) and is present in almost all studies on labour integration generated by universities. With attention that in the Latin American region we share these challenges (Herrera, 2017). ...
Full-text available
Higher education institutions must take into account the changing nature of the world of work. They must understand the capacities and competencies demanded by graduates of universities because in an unpredictable world, careers will undergo permanent changes and must respond to the changing needs of the labour market. In this article, we present the results of a study on whether the skills acquired by graduates of the Bachelor’s Degree in Executive Secretariat of the Autonomous University of Chiriqui correspond to the needs demanded by the labour market. The research is based on a mixed methodology, which enables the integration of quantitative and qualitative approaches, providing a holistic view of the problem studied. The results of this study show that for employers, command of the English language and competence in the use of modern office equipment are essential for the performance of secretarial work.
... Since the mid-1980s the Spanish university system has changed to become a massive higher education system (Mora, 1999;Mora and Vidal, 2000;Langa and David, 2006) which has conditioned the pedagogical methods. The pedagogic approach to business administration and accounting education has been mainly based on practical or theoretical lectures. ...
Full-text available
Teachers, students and professionals have confirmed the need to introduce skills into business administration and accounting education in Spain. However, this change has not taken place at any desirable level. This paper uses the New Institutional Sociology (NIS) to analyse the pressures to introduce the policy that consists of the incorporation of skills in business administration and accounting education in Spain, the strategic response adopted by Spanish universities and the institutional characteristics which have determined that response. To achieve that objective, the study uses multiple sources including interviews, questionnaires, observation, informal discussions and documents. The paper evidences that the strategy developed by Spanish universities has been the ‘avoidance’ of pressures to change. Nevertheless, due to the evolution of some institutional characteristics, the strategy has become a ‘compromise’ strategy in the second part of the decade. The NIS is also suitable to develop future research about the changes caused by the implementation of the European Higher Education Area in most countries of the EU.
Full-text available
The Spanish universities are embedded in a process of change in innovation, organizational and governance aspects within the European Higher Education Area framework. The practical implementation of the Bologna objectives implies not only a conceptual reorganization of the educative systems but a change of paradigm in the academic and organizational culture. In addition, there exist diverse tensions between the national legislation, accreditation, quality assurance and the process of change, both in internal and external contexts. In first place, it analyses some trends and obstacles that are emerging in the Spanish universities related to these issues, intending to identify the critical areas for academic and organizational culture change. Secondly, it explains the process designed and followed by the School of Design Engineering of the Polytechnic University of Valencia to implement several projects in Engineering Education involving curriculum development and faculty enhancement. Finally, it comments the degree of institutional impact of the actions undertaken and the improvement possibilities in the future.
Full-text available
Since the 80s, higher education in Spain hasundergone important modifications such asgreater autonomy, expansion in the number ofstudents and the introduction of more flexibleprogrammes. In this context, guidance serviceshave proliferated in an unstructured way. Thispaper presents a description of guidanceservices in Spanish universities and the maininnovations they have developed. Two sources ofinformation have been used: institutionalwebsites; and telephone interviews to those incharge of guidance services at Spanishuniversities. The study concludes that guidanceservices are in a dynamic situation,characterised by the introduction ofinnovations at some universities in order to bemore cost-effective and to adapt to a morevaried student population. However, the lack ofa legislative framework for guidance, and thelimited interest shown by institutionalauthorities, indicate the necessity of debatingthe importance given to guidance services andtheir impact on quality levels within thehigher education system.
Full-text available
As a result of widespread and increasing concern about the quality of leadership and management of public higher education institutions (HEIs), at the beginning of 2001 the Council on Higher Education (CHE) established a task team on governance of HEIs. The task team had three main objectives: to describe and analyse the state of governance at HEIs with special focus on the role of councils, senates, institutional forums and executive management and the relationship between these four structures; to establish whether, how effectively and with what consequences co-operative governance had been implemented at HEIs in South Africa; to make recommendations on how to improve efficiency, effectiveness and accountability in higher education governance.The investigation was to be conducted within the framework of the principles, values and goals defined for higher education in the government’s various policy documents since the mid-late 1990s.
Full-text available
Incl. bibliographical references, index
The relationship between governments (in their various forms) and higher education institutions has been the subject of much scrutiny and debate. Comparative analysis of different higher education systems has led to general assumptions that U.S. institutions have much greater autonomy than their European counterparts. In this study, the relationship between governments and higher education institutions in 75 countries, states and provinces is compared, using 19 indicators. We then use the results to examine whether current views on the differences expected are in fact accurate. The results show no visible homogeneous patterns between the U.S. or the West European countries and that the differences between the systems have not been interpreted precisely enough. The article ends with an assessment of the current level of institutional autonomy in the 75 states and countries involved.© 1996 International Association of Universities. Higher Education Policy Vol. 9, (1996) 137–158
Higher education in Spain broke away from its close dependency on the State in their last decade. In this paper we analyze the steps undertaken by the Spanish higher education system which has allowed market influences to grow in recent years. We analyze the historical framework and legal changes which have facilitated market trends on the financial and organisational structure of universities. We conclude that, though the steps are still hesitant, market-like elements are increasingly affecting every aspect of higher education life.
Examines popular approaches to performance and organizational improvement to see what flaws they contain and how continued practice will impede progress. Discusses benchmarking; quality management/continuous improvement; needs assessment; training; downsizing; reengineering; system(s) approach; and strategic planning. Describes the Organizational Elements Model and six critical success factors for Mega level strategic planning. Highlights benefits of this "Mega planning" approach. (Contains 38 references.) (AEF)
Study Costs, Student t[TT.ilTir:blic Policv in Europe
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