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“Criminology and sports will have higher cut-off marks than medicine.”

“Criminology and sports will have higher cut-off marks than medicine.”

Administrative tasks at the University of Oviedo are not new to him. Juan Manuel Marchant Gayón (Mires, 1967), professor of analytical chemistry, was vice-dean of chemistry and, before that, one of the architects of the adaptation of the Asturian institution to the Bologna Plan (In fact, he jokes that he came back to see how those “children” were raised, those degrees). He was then director of the Quality and Qualifications Area, under Vicente Gotor. He returned to the first team of the university’s president, Ignacio Villaverde, as director of the Orientation and Access Area, working alongside Alfonso López Muñiz, vice president for students. Clear and concise, he maps out the roadmap that must be followed in the next six years to implement one of the great changes that Villaverde promised: the change in teaching. And also risky: with the title of this interview, there is a dinner at stake.

-First thing… How was the first month and a half?

– Relegation and team formation.

– He is one of the great champions of the university president’s team, given the importance that the university president himself attached to teaching in the campaign and in his program. Where do I start?

-There are two parts. The first is the necessary reflection on what, how and why we train. The second is research: until now the role has been played by the teacher who transmits knowledge to the student. Now, the focus must be on the message, the knowledge that is transmitted. But we cannot do this whole process from top to bottom, otherwise it will not work. We must look for examples of good practices that are already being implemented at the University of Oviedo and other universities.

– How will this meditation be organized?

-The idea is to create working groups, teaching groups, as research groups already exist. Analyze the examples that are being implemented and how they can be expanded to the full degree.

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The discussion about the need for change in teaching began a long time ago at other levels, but it has not yet reached the university…

– I won’t say that too much. The University of Oviedo, for example, is organizing a conference on educational innovation with a large turnout. The university was not on the sidelines of this debate, on the contrary, it was a pioneer.

– Are the master’s classes over?

– You have to find the balance. Before, the only source of information was the teacher. He had all the information. In some cases, it was a book on the same topic, so I either got some good notes or went to class. Today the situation is completely different: the classroom has to provide added value, because information is available in many places. Personally, for example, I used the flipped classroom method. The students already have my classes on the virtual campus, so I can’t offer the same thing in the classroom, I have to offer another type of activity.

There is talk of flexibility, dual training and successive academic programmes…

– The PARS system basically involves an administrative change, something simpler and will be launched next year. The dual training is more complex, a new concept, requires more changes, and will start in the academic year 2025-2026 in the Master of Industrial Engineering, the qualifying master’s degree. The dual training means that the student will receive part of the content outside the classroom, in the company, which forces the teacher to change plans.

– And flexibility?

– The open degrees as stated in the decree I do not like very much. They allow the student to freely choose subjects from different classes during the first and second year. At the moment, we will work within the framework of Ingenium, which has a very advanced plan for “joint degrees”, joint degrees, which will allow the student, throughout the study period, to study at the University of Oviedo and other universities that are part of the Ingenium part.

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-Should we review the study plans?

-I was in the process of implementing the Bologna Plan. I saw them born.

– How did they grow?

– They have minor ailments. Bologna has facilitated excessive optionality, and we are reconsidering it. But there are no major needs for a change in the curricula.

– And the curriculum? Is it closed with criminology and sports?

-The degree plan is closed. It is not on the agenda, either in the short or medium term, to implement anything new, unless there is a clear demand. Criminology and sports will have a higher degree than medicine. If not, I will lose dinner.

-Above medicine?

– On the last arrival list, the one dating back to September, for sure.

EBAU does its part.

-CRUE itself says that the trim marks may be “fake” due to this years EBAU model…

– It is true that the model got very high marks. However, I want to make one thing clear: the EBAU is doing its job. We do not want to re-evaluate what was already evaluated in the baccalaureate. I have full confidence in the teachers in the institutes. The EBAU helps us systematize and that is how we should understand it.

– The EBAU proposal for a unified exam is back on the table. But on top of that, the universities have asked for a more homogeneous exam.

– I won’t get into the political debate, although I think that as proposed, a single test is not viable. But universities are already working on harmonizing the test. There is a team working with them; universities know how we do our job, they allow us to work.

– I said before that the curriculum is closed.

-Yes, what we will be working on is implementing dual degrees. In 2005, the dual degree will be implemented for early childhood teachers and elementary teachers. These are degrees that are in high demand and will allow for the combination of the two at the same time.

-Will there be more?

– Yes, we will implement them wherever we can. In addition, there are six proposals for new master’s degrees, which must be studied, because according to the regulations only two new degrees can be approved each year.

-But there are master’s degrees with little demand. Nothing will be removed?

– No, first of all I intend to do more publicity for the offer. The idea is to organize university orientation days for graduate students in April, similar to those organized for baccalaureate students, but with a full complement of graduate students, masters and their degrees. I think students are not aware of everything we offer. In addition, there is great potential to attract students from abroad. Unlike what happens in bachelor’s degrees, there is greater mobility in graduate degrees. But there is no possibility of the extinction of master’s degrees or degrees on the table.

-Conclusion: Does the University of Oviedo have a good academic offer?


-Is it competitive?

-Very competitive. We have no fear…

-Private universities. You anticipated the question.

– We do not compete for the same profile of students. Many who go to the private sector do not even think about going to the public. If we talk about nursing, I am sure that the best records will continue to come to the University of Oviedo.

-But there is still a way out for those who do not get a place here, because I think they will not expand…

– No, they will not expand, and we cannot go any further. We cannot guarantee the quality of teaching by having more places. Health sciences positions are what they are.