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Launched just a few years ago (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, September 2009) in the context of Spain’s groundbreaking new policy to modernise its university sector—Estrategia Universidad 2015 (EU2015)—the future of Spain’s International Excellence Campus initiative is now called into serious question. News outlets in Spain and in the international press are reporting that the programme is on “stand by”. Specifically, the majority of projects selected through a competitive process in 2011 will not receive their funding, and the future of both financing and focus remain unclear. The Spanish daily El País indicates that the still relatively new Popular Party government of Mariano Rajoy is invoking a section of the 2011 Budgets Law (Ley de Presupuestos) whereby autonomous communities not found to be in line with the country’s “stability plan’” are ineligible to receive government loans. The autonomous communities of Madrid and La Rioja are reportedly the only ones in compliance in this regard and therefore their selected projects will receive the promised financial support. Loans destined for some 15 other autonomous communities, however, will apparently not be released.
Although the initiative has not been officially abandoned, the disappointment is palpable among all major players involved. The troubles facing Spain’s economy are well documented, and clearly the Spanish higher education community is not immune from the immense financial challenges facing the country (ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, January 2012). A big question on many Spaniards’ minds is whether things will get worse before they get better.El País (in Spanish)