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At the beginning of this month, several groups of students have demonstrated their discontent with the imminent implementation of the Bologna Process in Spain, joining a series of student protests across Europe. Spanish students occupied university buildings, blocked train lines and interrupted senate meetings across the country, and especially in Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia, corresponding to a joint student population of about 250 000. The students are protesting at what they see as a privatisation of state universities, in which they claim private interests of employers are taking precedence over the common good, and that the Bologna Process will open the door to the introduction of tuition fees. Spanish students, who tend to work alongside with study, argue that the new degree structure will not enable for the necessary flexibility to continue sustaining themselves. The second main concern regards the expectance of a degree ‘devaluation’, where students need to complete an often expensive masters programme to have the same job prospects they had previously with a bachelor level degree. Protests have spread also to secondary education institutions.
Reducing the length of a previously five years degree to four or even three also means that teaching hours have to be reduce or reallocated, which has led to power struggles and discontent among the academic staff as well. Following the increased discontent, the government has anticipated some changes which will be announced shortly, after an official meeting of the Minister of Science and Innovation with the Spanish rectors, on the latter’s request.