Seven months since she took office and, in her first university budgets, she has been forced to rectify in order to pay the payrollin full negotiation for the Multiannual Financing Plan that should relieve campus coffers. Minister Bueno is also facing the decision of the UMH that has brought the implementation of Medicine at the UA to court, although she hopes that it will remain an anecdote.
The budgets for the universities have had to be approved in “second call”, what happened so that it did not even arrive for the payrolls?
The budget of the universities has passed from 777 million in 2022 to 824 in 2023, in addition to the 95 million for the Multiannual Financing Plan. We have attended to this situation of budgetary blockade that the universities told us.
Couldn’t the accounts be done right before?
We did all the accounts working hand in hand with the universities. I would make the positive reading that we have attended them. With the additional endowment we guarantee the payment of payrolls and I want to thank the collaboration of the rectors.
Likewise, it was not taken into account that the historical debt covered the gap that they dragged for basic expenses and that payment ended.
Everything has been taken into account, and I want to emphasize that this Government has always complied with the universities since 2015, paying the debt of 442 million even in a pandemic situation. We are making an economic effort to meet their needs and working for a Financing Plan that allows us to set out the path of the universities.
We want to have the Pluriannual Financing Plan for March 2023 and that in future years the endowment will increase
They warned from the AU, as spokespersons in the Conference of Rectors, that the long-awaited plan is born short.
I don’t have that feeling, I think the situation is positive. There are 95 million, which is the equivalent of the debt, converted into a structural one, and now we are working on the model of the plan that we have to achieve consensus. They have asked me to be at work meetings and I will be there because in principle there was no presence of the ministry. The plan will provide stability because it will allow them to know based on which indicators they will be financed. Apart from the fact that we hope that in successive years the financing can be increased.
Does it mean that this time they are not going to allocate much more?
One thing is the global amount for the financing of the universities and the other part consists of designing the Pluriannual Financing Plan with consensus indicators for which there have been two meetings.
So it won’t be possible to have it this year as announced?
Yes it is going to have, whatwe want to have it by march. I am speaking to you in the academic year because as a university student I see the years from September to June, but we will try to ensure that it is taken into account for the 2023 financial year. I have great faith that it will be achieved.
Will it include the investment plan that the rectors are demanding?
It will be seen in work meetings. Along with the collective agreement, for which we have proposed the legal instrument that allows it to be unblocked, were the two commitments we had. We find ourselves entering 2015 as the only community without an agreement or financial plan. We have accomplished much more than previous governments.
Is your ministry in Alicante, the first outside of Valencia, insured?
A department for Alicante was something that she claimed as a citizen, she deserved to have a leg of the Government and it is the first time that it has been decentralized due to the bet of President Puig. I have not the slightest doubt that The best investment for Alicante has been the Ministry, which has empowered Alicante and the province, in all categorical terms, because it has put us on the political agenda. The location is assured, what we need is to find a definitive physical space in the city, which is easily recognizable, because we are provisionally in Ciudad de La Luz and the department has to make way for the cinema and filming.
The headquarters of the ministry has to give way to the cinema and filming. We are looking for a definitive location in the center of Alicante
Are they already considering a building?
We are considering it in the center of the city, as are the rest of the institutions, and for it to become a benchmark. It can be for rent, but we have to move in three months.
So when there is a Financing Plan, will there be a new building?
I don’t know if we’ll get to that full synchronization (laughs). Politics has the obligation to make it easier for citizens for any management.
We are going to continue strengthening the aerospace and artificial intelligence axis of Elche and Alicante, without victimization
What is the next challenge, outside of the race for the state agencies that have gone to Seville and A Coruña?
The candidacies were made thanks to having a ministry behind them that put them together. They were not a whim, we were very aware of the strengths we have in artificial intelligence and the aerospace sector as demonstrated in the evaluation report. A Community strategy; an Ellis node working on responsible and ethical artificial intelligence research, which is the focus of the state agency; an award-winning data work against covid; and the Valgrai foundation for training and research with the five public universities. We have proven to be a benchmark in artificial intelligence and we will continue to strengthen it. I would like to send a message of pride, we have managed to put Alicante on the national map of artificial intelligence, and move away from the message of victimhood that an inferiority complex can translate. We have challenges ahead.
In the long run everything will be normalized with Medicine, the public university system is one and so we must continue working
Can you achieve any of those challenges?
We are working on it, we are going to continue working on that path due to the fact that Alicante and Elche are benchmarks, just as the Ministry has come to stay. We are going to continue strengthening this axis with these leading and transcendental sectors, it is mandatory, They are an option for the future and progress. The reading is that we have made it very difficult for the Commission and we had not been working for even a year, we can be satisfied with the score we have achieved and that we are a benchmark not only in tourism. We didn’t need a gift, we deserved it.
In line with the Alicante-Elche axis that you mention, how do you deal with the distancing on account of the Medicine degree? The UMH has gone to court to prevent it from being implanted in the UA.
When a situation is prosecuted, it is best to let justice rule. Therefore, respect. For me they are two very close university students, even personally. I think they are working very well at the research group level, and I even know families whose father or mother works at the University of Alicante and their sons or daughters study at the Miguel Hernández University and vice versa. The public university system is one, we have five universities but we are part of a single system and so we must continue working. That is a reality and therefore I hope that this remains an anecdote. Relations are fluid between professors, researchers and students and we have a strength as a province, which is having two universities. They guarantee equal opportunities because we have more places to offer our students so that they can study and find the career they like. I think that in the long run everything will normalize, I am convinced.
How do you respond to complaints about discrimination in the AVI calls for research?
The AVI was created in 2018 and since then more than 38 million have been injected into different sectors, not only universities but Alicante companies and different projects. In terms of innovation, it has had a positive action for the province and in terms of universities we have grown from 17% to 22%. Surely we need to grow and we will continue to accompany and advise the universities. We have to reinforce that not everything is done and bring innovation into dialogue with companies and scientists.
With the AVI, innovation must be brought into dialogue with companies and scientists
Are you concerned about the dance of charges since this Ministry was born three years ago? Its regional secretary and another general director recently left.
I think beginnings are always difficult. Creating a Ministry from scratch is not easy and I want to thank all the people who have been involved in the project, especially the hundred officials. I can respond from May 14 and I decided to keep the team out of respect for the work done. All the changes are due to personal decisions that I have to respect, I have not fired anyone.
Scholarships and fees
What would you highlight from your first quotes?
The consolidation of the financing of the universities and a program of scholarships and grants that stands out on the national map. The situation left by the PP in 2015 were higher than average rates. The Botànic’s bet was to reduce the rates, up to 30% now, Therefore, we are below the national average, and an aid program so that more people can access the university against the topic that we have many university students, because it is not like that, we have less than the countries around us. A better trained citizenry improves their conditions of labor insertion. And the UA is the one that has received the most salary scholarships, it is generalist, which demonstrates the social function of universities.
What will distinguish this ministry when the ministry has already ruled that rates cannot be raised?
Continue working on the path we are on, reducing rates to around 10% in September due to inflation. Y in scholarships and grants we are in the top ten. That is the policy, because there are still families that do not consider university education if they do not live near a campus. At the UA there are still students who are the first promotion to go to university, I know them. The increase in the cost of life affects us all and the most expensive enrollments are those of the third or fourth call, we do not want them to abandon their studies. Scholarships are not a gift, they are a political instrument to correct inequalities cradle and guarantee social equity.