Is our Public University getting too comfortable?

It bewilders me that there was only one candidate for the race for the new rector of the Public Basque University who will have to compete with blank votes to be able to win the election. It is not my intention at all to criticise the candidacy of Nekane Balluerka. Rather, I wish to express here my consternation at the lack of alternative proposals for the future of an institution, which though dedicated to dialogue, and the generation and transmission of knowledge, is nonetheless, beset with unresolved issues in every sphere.

As the late Professor José Ramón Recalde used to say, "The primary goal of the University is to educate students so that they develop critical thinking skills for life." Unfortunately, however, the teaching staff in our public university are failing in their duty of what they ought to be transmitting in class, namely, commitment, solidarity, working towards the common good, and dialogue amongst differing parties, to name a few.

What we need is for our education system to lead the process of societal transformation. If there is one general consensus, it is that our socio-economic model is in serious need of reform and updating. If we consider that to create a society that is more multicultural, equitable, dynamic and enterprising, expressing both curiosity and critical thinking, then we are in need of a defiant, brave, and outspoken university, which takes risks and which is on the vanguard of opening up new lines of thinking.

Furthermore, Basque society is in need of a university whose professionals are committed to advancing educational projects, as well as contributing to improving our education ranking internationally. These professionals need to promote greater integration in society, they must develop their own capacities, and become leaders for society to whom we can look in order to deal with the problems facing us today. What we see, however, is a frankly astounding apparent lack of commitment during the university elections.

So then, what message and values are we sending to our students? Put simply: an absence of responsibility with the institution where we work and indifference towards building the future. Add to that an inability to foster dialogue with differing parties, and a lack of initiative vis-à-vis the challenges facing the university in these times, I do not personally believe that this lack of commitment is a good example for students, nor is it good for society at large.

Read the original article in El Economista.

Sabin Azua

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