Santa Claus didn’t come laden with gifts for Christmas. On December 14, while all of Spain was preparing for the most atypical festivals in history, the 2,370 workers of the European University They received a letter from the CEO, Miguel Carmelo, thanking them for the effort made during the pandemic. Something normal in companies, if it were not for that same statement announced the execution of a Record of employment regulation (ERE) that would affect 275 employees.
“Despite the great work done by all and the commitment shown to students and the university, in order to carry out the transformation it needs, a reorganization of the structure and resources of the university is essential,” the statement said.
This is the statement sent by Miguel Carmelo to the employees:
Following this statement, the European University thus launched the first ERE in the history of a private university in Spain. A collective dismissal that will affect 12% of the workforce, despite the fact that the company declared a profit of 50 million euros in the 2018-19 financial year and that enrollment increased in the 2020-21 academic year.
The ERE has not been presented for economic reasons, but for technical, productive and organizational reasons. “The European University began a process of modernization of the educational and management model months ago in response to the clear evolution of the sector and market demands,” say company sources.
The European University, in the hands of a vulture fund
The European University of Madrid was born in 1989 under the name of the European Center for Higher Studies, a center attached to the Complutense University of Madrid. The Government of Felipe González granted it recognition as a private university in 1995.
Its main campus is located in Villaviciosa de Odón (Madrid) and is known to the whole world thanks to many scenes of the television series are filmed there Elite (Netflix). As of 2012, it shortened its name to European University having other offices in Valencia, the Canary Islands and Lisbon.
Throughout its history, this university has changed owners several times. It was initially founded by two businessmen linked to Alianza Popular, Luis Velasco Roa and Julio Fidalgo Lobo. After several fights between the partners, it was bought by the American group Sylvan Learning in 1998, which ran the Wall Street Institute English academies. This group reoriented itself towards higher education under the name Laureate Education.
Two years ago, the venture capital fund Permira, based in London, paid 770 million euros to take over this private university. One of his first decisions was sell the student residence located. “There is an investment fund that the university buys at the end of 2018. When they arrive they swear and perjure that nothing was going to happen, but we were already with the fly behind our ears ”, recalls a professor involved in the mobilizations.
The European University currently has 20,000 enrolled students and has always been characterized by offering a very close treatment to its students, who have a counselor throughout their years, and by guaranteeing a high job placement, thanks to its contacts with companies.
“The students value the close relationship with the teachers, it is one of our strengths. Virtualizing all this is a change with respect to the project in which we believe. The students will be very affected ”, laments a teacher who prefers not to reveal his name. “The problem is that there is a change in the educational project, where the aim was to train future professionals who were very attached to companies ”, agrees another.
Students will be very affected
Another of the strengths of this university center is sports, as it has an important sports complex and a great training offer in this area. Even Real Madrid created a university school, whose campus is in Alcobendas and whose chair was directed by the writer Mario Vargas Llosa.
Many middle and upper class students enroll in this center because they did not get a place in the public university after the selectivity. Its license plate is not suitable for all pockets. He price of a course It ranges from 7,680 euros for the degree in Business Administration and Management or Journalism to 18,780 euros for Medicine. Iker Jiménez and Irene Villa are some of the famous people who have passed through their classrooms.
80% of dismissals in Madrid
The UGT union points out that the proposed ERE would affect 275 of the 2,432 workers in university workplaces in Spain. Sources from the European University reduce the workforce to 2,370 workers.
The ERE will affect all university headquarters in Spain. Specifically, 221 professionals located in Madrid, 47 in the Valencian Community and 7 in the Canary Islands. “The vast majority are in Madrid, of which 90% are teachers ”, they point out.
The reduction of personnel will force that the professors who remain have to take charge of the classes taught by the dismissed, even if they are not in their specialty. “I have to give 540 hours of teaching a year. A 6-credit course was 72 hours, but now it will be reduced to 60 hours. This will imply that the teacher will have to give more classes, have more teaching load and the quality will be affected ”, points out a teacher.
What they want is to cut the campus apart
The European University claims that quality will not suffer. “The transformation of the portfolio is sought, the implementation of tools that help academic planning, the transformation of the enrollment process”, they assure from the company.
The teachers fear that the collective dismissal really hides an intention to change the educational project towards a distance university, oriented to students from Asia and Latin America, with greater purchasing power. “We have to ourselves that what they want is to chop up the campus because if it is committed to digitization it is no longer necessary. HThey have seen that there is a market in Asia and Latin America that demands European titles ”, he affirms.
Time is running against the workers, as the layoffs will take effect on February 7. The management of the European University has met with the works council on two occasions, without agreement. “There have been two meetings and there has been no negotiation capacity,” says a professor.
The third meeting is scheduled for next week, specifically, Monday, January 25. “The priority is to work with the representatives of the workers to reach the best possible agreement,” they point out from the University.
After the announcement of the ERE, students and teachers have mobilized on campus and have begun collecting signatures. Teacher sources indicate that it is most likely that an indefinite strike will be called in the month of February. Their fight still continues.
Source: Huffington Post Spain Athena2 by www.huffingtonpost.es.
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