Ferran Sancho, UAB's new rector, and Antoni Castellà, Minister for Universities and Research of the Government of Catalonia, signed the Government Decree at the UAB Casa Convalescència in Barcelona, thus formalising the election of Ferran Sancho as rector of the university. The academic event was celebrated at the conference hall (Sala d'actes) of the Rectorate building with the attendance of a large representation of university community members.
The moment of signing included the attendance of members of the former and new UAB governing teams, as well as of Mireia Belil, Vice President of the UAB Board of Trustees; Lluís Jofre, Director General for Universities; Josep M. Martorell, Director General for Research; and Claudi Alsina, Secretary General for the Interuniversity Council of Catalonia. Castellà congratulated both former and new rectors and governing teams. He expressed the Government's wish that the Catalan university model, based on research, be maintained, and encouraged the new rector and his team to "make UAB a leader university in the field of research".
The academic event began with a short speech by Ana Ripoll, who highlighted the accomplishments of these past four years: "the consolidation of a new model of academic studies, began under Rector Lluís Ferrer (proof of this is UAB's position in first place regarding theses passed per academic year); the UAB obtaining recognition as a Campus of International Excellence in the year 2009; the creation of an academic model under the European Higher Education Area; the efforts put into the university's internationalisation process; the formation of the Students Council; and the creation of the Ithaca-Santander grants.
Former Rector Ana Ripoll thanked the community for its collaboration during her years as rector and congratulated and wished the new team good luck for this new term. She ended by offering her collaboration to the new rector.
Sancho, the first UAB Rector to have also been a student, thanked Ana Ripoll for having "been at the head of the university in such difficult times". He also thanked the large amount of voters who participated in the elections as well as his opponents, "something that demonstrates the strong democratic values of our university".
"We are now in midst of a crisis which is not only economic, but also social", Sancho said, while adding that "the risk of losing quality at university is real and we must be very much aware that the decisions taken today in terms of university investments can offer immediate results". According to the rector, the de-investment will imply reductions and "dangerous consequences for the scientfic sustainability of the university system".
The government must decide "if it wants Catalonia to have leading public universities. If so, it must provide the resources necessary to reach this objective". He added that "we are not afraid to be evaluated based on our results because there is undeniable proof that our wok is carried out in the most professional and rigorous way".
"If we want the public university system to be sustainable it is essential that the support given to this system be solid and stable throughout the years, transparent in its criteria, and strongly committed to quality", Sancho stated.
"We need a solvent financial model sufficiently stable enough to guarantee the objectives of the university be met", he affirmed, and demanded that "the government pay the economic debt owed to the university", while he also manifested the need for "a clear definition of the university model our authorities have in mind". He also commented on the need "to be independent with regard to the university policies when selecting new staff", and added, "we do not ask for liberalisation, but we do expect a certain amount of flexibility".
"We need stability in financial matters, but we also need this stability when governing". Sudden and unconsulted changes, such as those under the "Wert decree", do not help to stabilise the university system, Rector Sancho added.
The new rector explained that the Government of Catalonia invests only 0.38% of the GDP in public universities, a figure that shows that Catalonia is not at the same level as the rest of Spain (0.53% of GDP) or of the European Union(0.7% of GDP).
He spoke of searching for other alternative ways of financing public universities. In this sense, he stated that UAB will create the UAB endowment based on donations and patronage, and linked to grants and aids to promote research activities".
Sancho ended his speech by saying that "we know the amount of difficulties is large and we are facing one of the most complicated periods in the history of UAB, but we also know how much this university means to all of its community. All together, PAS, PDI and students, have the strength, ideas, and will to overcome these hardships." He ended his speech in English with the phrase: "Where there is a will, there's is a way".