viernes, 22 de octubre de 2010

Pictures of the protest gathering Thursday 21st of October

IMPORTANT: Next steps and Selection of representatives for discussion meeting

The protest gathering at the Biomedical Research Forum UAB-CIS has been a success for pre-doctoral researchers. Around 200 people gathered outside the hall where the event was held asking for the attention of Minister Huguet. Doctoral students were able to read the summary of the manifest and the closing of the forum was adjourned briefly so the Minister could have a first dialogue with a delegation of the demonstrators.

The demonstrators were invited to allow the completion of the act and wait outside the Casa de la Convalescència for a new dialogue with the General Director of Universities of the Generalitat, Josep Ribas, to which they agreed.

While waiting there was some open discussions among the gathered people, who later left the premises, so the delegation could hold a meeting with the General Director.
In this initial contact a commitment has been made to study the issue at a meeting specifically devoted to it, to be held on Wednesday or Thursday next week and attended by the Minister Huguet, a representative of the DGU, two vice-chancellors of Catalan universities, representing all the universities of Catalonia, and four representatives of the pre-doctoral researchers from all over Catalonia.

Researchers must now select these four representatives and prepare the agenda for the meeting, which convenes next Monday 25th of October at 19h, in front of the UB historic building's main door. D-Recerca will reserve a room for the meeting.

The objectives of this meeting are:
1. Elect four representatives to take part in the meeting next week (and
probably in the later ones).
2. Set the number of points to be addressed at that meeting and the minimum
acceptable for each point.

Each university and local entity (PCB, PRBB, Bellaterra, Vall d'Hebron, UdG, UPF, UVic, URV, etc...) has to send a delegation to represent their pre-doctoral researchers at the meeting in order to have the greatest amount of views and ideas.

The representative committee should be maintained for future development and should commit to:
1. Inform your local collective.
2. Coordinate the decision-making of the collective.
3. Represent your local collective and the whole Catalan collective in possible
future meetings.

The confirmed talks with the administration provide the opportunity for the group of Catalan doctorates to start changing the situation. The elected representatives should have perfectly clear the position and requests of their local collective, as well as the best negotiation capability with a serene, but demanding attitude.

This blog encourages pre-doctorate researchers to continue their exemplary, democratic, and respectful attitude, and to participate without ever yielding to the any demand posted by the government.

Manifest and signature campaign

Preparing and adjusting the manifest with D-recerca had the outcome of taking the long version (version A) as a basis of our opposition against the increased thesis fee and the precarious situation of the pre-doctoral scientists in Catalonia. The short version of the manifest (version B) is still available as a summary of the principal points in order to be used whenever a short version is necessary.

Both manifests are available in Catalan and Spanish. Further down on this page you can find the revised final version.

IMPORTANT: Please also visit THIS PAGE and leave you digital signature, which are being collected since yesterday. Pass on this link to fellow students, friends and family. It is not necessary that they are directly affected by the increased fee, they can just show their support by signing. Please also check that the signature is validated.

Furthermore, the different subgroups are cordially invited in the collection of signatures (not online but on paper!) in order to support the manifest. Every single subgroup should then compile the collected signatures which are all brought together afterwards.

A draft form for the collection of signatures will be available here soon!


The signatories of this manifest state that:

1. The Generalitat has increased the cost of the thesis supervision to 400 Euro (a 280% increase from previous years), which PhD students in Catalonia must pay annually to have right to undertake a PhD in the Catalan research system.

2. We understand that being research student is a professional activity, comparable to any other performed by scientist working in research as it is recognized by the European Letter for Researchers [1].

3. Those 400 Euro only make worse the precarious situation of young researchers, being an economic barrier that discourages and hinders access to the profession of scientist.

4. We recognize that the Generalitat has the right to set prices in public universities according to the Royal Decree 1393/2007, provided they are related to the cost of a service, but without upper limit and leaving it to the will of the autonomous institution to set them.

5. The explanations received by the relevant agencies (government and universities), attributing the increase of the service fees, established by Decree 98/2010 of the Generalitat, Annex 1, paragraph 4.6, do not satisfy the signatories of this manifest, as the researchers in training, like any other researcher, have the right to access all the services necessary to perform their task, and no payment for these services should be necessary.

6. These 400 Euro are an even greater outrage if we consider the reduction of 5% of salary that have undergone the PhD students of public universities, and we understand that Catalonian PhD students suffer much economic misfortune compared with other Autonomous Communities where none of these measures have been applied.

We demand:

1. The reception of a promptly and timely response in writing by the authorities of university and government.

2. The deletion of paragraph 4.6 of Annex 1 of Decree 98/2010 of the Generalitat of Catalonia which sets a price of 400 Euro for the fees for thesis supervision in a doctoral program adapted to the European Higher Education Area (EEES in Spanish).

3. Due to this exceptional situation and by decree, a suspension of the registration period for PhD programs in Catalan universities, until an agreement between the parties involved is obtained.

4. An immediate monetary reintegration of those who paid the enrollment in a PhD Program in Catalan universities.

[1] The European charter for Researcher and the code of conduct for recruitment of researchers. European Commission, 2000.

miércoles, 20 de octubre de 2010

Protest gathering Hospital de St. Pau

This Thursday, 21st of October, the “Forum de Investigacion Biomedica UAB-CEI” will be held in the “Casa de la Convalescencia” which is part of the UAB on the grounds of the Hospital de St. Pau in Barcelona. Participants are the Minister of Health of the Generalitat de Catalunya (Marina Geli) and the Minister of Innovation of Universities and Enterprises (Josep Huguet).

In order to reinforce the manifest, there will be a protest gathering from 12h to 13h which will be timed with the presence of Mr. Huguet. The assisting people are asked to wear orange clothing (the colour represents the precarious scientist). The plan is to read out loud the manifest and hand a copy to Mr. Huguet. Furthermore, a basket with oranges and a juice squeezer will be given to the Minister as representation of the current situation of the PhD students working as researchers.

Everybody willing to attend is invited to participate, preferably wearing orange clothing.

Please check back for updated time before going there.

lunes, 18 de octubre de 2010

Informative Meeting Parc Científic

There will be an informal and informative meeting on Wednesday, October 20th, opened to the whole PCB Community. It will take place at the IRB Terrace, from 10:30am. Past and future actions will be discussed, and the collection of signatures to support the Manifest will begin.

Also, there is another meeting called for tomorrow, Tuesday, at 1pm at Aula 22 of the Faculty of Biology, UB.

We hope to see you all there!

jueves, 14 de octubre de 2010

The UPF letter sent

The collective at Universitat Pompeu Fabra has finally sent today its complaint letter, which they have been preparing lately and about which this blog informed in its Spanish version -the English translation is in preparation and will be posted for the record.

A hundred and twenty seven members of the Biomedicine Doctorate Programme at UPF have adhered to the text, representing only one of the multiple research centers with an active collective opposing the rise of thesis supervision fees and other problems of predoctoral research at Catalonia.

This blog will follow closely the effects of this UPF text, which is being used as a model at many other centers and the contents of which will predictably be included in any collective complaint of predoctoral researchers as a whole.

D-Recerca gets explanations from DIUE

Here is linked the mailing list on our theme at D-Recerca, the Association of Graduate Students and Research Fellows of Catalonia. Readers are encouraged to check it and participate in its activities; it must not be forgotten that D-Recerca is the association representing most predoctoral researchers in Catalonia.

This post's highlight goes to a meeting between a representation of D-Recerca and the Generalitat de Catalunya Department for Innovation, Universities and Enterprise (DIUE) Director General, Josep Rives.

About the rise of the thesis supervision fees, the meeting report states:

The reason given to explain this rise of 300% in doctorate fees is the adaptation to the European Higher Education Area. Since this year is the first in which the Bologna Accord is implemented in studies from the first course, they have wanted to update the third degree as well. They state that this price of 400€ is to cover expenses of the supervision service and bibliographical fonts access. We complained about the supervision service being symbolic in all cases and hence it is not justifiable to charge so much money giving nothing in exchange*. We were told then that we would have to address the vice-chancellery for research at each university and demand there the services corresponding to the degree, like a better offer of teachings and advisory services.
But yes, students registered for PhD. programmes previous to the new plan will be charged just the previous fees.
Readers are encouraged to question if they use these services as predoctoral researchers, if they want to have to claim them and if they are willing to pay more today than they did yesterday for something that they have to make a claim to get improved, but mainly for something that they probably didn't ask to improve, least to become so expensive.

About what is paid in each programme, it seems that students in the DEA pathway are in a better position, although there's some contradictory information running around about this point. Any readers registered for a DEA programme and being charged the 400€ fee are welcome to report that in the comments section.

* A comment in the Spanish version reveals yet another contradiction in the explanation of the fee as covering bibliographical access and the actual reduction of bibliographical access for Spanish universities by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology in purchasing a cheaper license for ISI Web of Knowledge this year.

miércoles, 13 de octubre de 2010

Spreading the word with Humour


Predoctoral researchers at the Barcelona Science Park have decided to express their disagreement with the increase of thesis supervision fees to 400€ with a parody motivational poster.

This icon of the situtation is reproduced here for the readers to do whatever they consider with it. Have you seen any other similar posters? Have you made any you want to share? You can send it to this blog's feedback e-mail:

The case at UPC

Pre-doctoral researchers at UPC started reacting somewhat before the alarm over this blog's topic was general. They contacted the vice-chancellor for Scientific Policies, Xavier Gil Mur and the assistant vice-chancellor for Research, Ana Isabel Pérez Neira expressing their unrest over the rise of the thesis supervision fee up to 400€.

Next there is a translation of the answer letter they got:

Dear Jordi,
In reference to your letter about the increase in the thesis supervision fee, we agree in that the increase of the fee has been high. In front of this fact, I must tell you that the Social Council of the UPC approved for the academic year 2010-2011 a fee of 400 euros in concept of thesis supervision, defense and evaluation altogether. At other universities the interpetation was to apply 400 euros for each one of these concepts, so anyone registering only for thesis defense and evaluation will be charged another 400 euros. This is not true for UPC.

We thank you for your letter. Xavier Gil will complain to Generalitat both about the increase in the fee and the fact that FPU or FPI fellows have to pay while UPC, FI or contracted by UPC don't.

Kind regards,

Ana Pérez Neira
Vre. Adj. investigación

Xavier Gil
Vre. Política Científica

One has to be thankful for the UPC vice-chancellors agreeing in objective facts, as that the increase in the tax has been high. It can be trusted that they will also agree in other obvious facts in which it is impossible to disagree without falling in an evident mistake.

Besides, it is sold as something good that UPC has not pushed into the domains of the dubious in the application of the decree that lifts the fees, making some pay double of what already seems a senseless amount. It is said that other universities have done so. It seems logical to wonder which are those universities that don't show even the scarce solidarity with predoctoral researchers that the social council of UPC has displayed. If any reader of this blog knows which are they, communicating it in the comments will be welcome.

The vice-chancellor for Scientific Policies at UPC will carry the complaint of the predoctoral researchers to the Generalitat. There's no doubt that the eyes of the world will be put on that complaint and its consequences. This blog will inform on any news about this matter.

Thesis supervision fees on the rise

It is the time of the year for PhD. registration at Catalan universities and predoctoral researchers are being asked to pay a thesis supervision fee of 400 euros. These prices are fixed autonomously by the Generalitat de Catalunya - the Catalan autonomous government - and it has decided to increase them to a 380,95% of last year's fees (from 105€ payed last year to the current 400€).

Besides the obvious and most serious economic inconvenience this is going to cause for many if not all predoctoral researchers, these fees are absolutely unjustified, unjustifiable and abusive. On one hand they are abusive because the price of a service is being raised arbitrarily with no improvement of the service at all. On the other hand they are the last straw in the story of charging for a service that many consider almost non-existent.

Furthermore, since such high fees are being introduced only in Catalonia, they constitute an unfair disadvantage of the predoctoral researchers in Catalonia in front of the ones in the rest of Spain.

Also, these fees contribute to put annual registration out of the reach of the average predoctoral researcher and come to represent the fact that formal public postgraduate education is being reserved by the Generalitat, with an aid in the passivity of Catalan universities, for the economically privilegiate.

Even more, these fees are but a direct aggression to research, given that many candidates considering to pursue a PhD. will choose other options coming without a "droit de signeur" that in practice translates into paying for working, for carrying out a valuable work that contributes to the benefit and financial resources of research groups.

It is enough already of  unfairly charging highly qualified workers that have invested their time, effort and money in being able to work for the good of society and in most cases with remarkably low incomes. Are predoctoral researchers being punished for giving their best to science and society?

Since all this has been carried out discreetly by the Generalitat and the Catalan universities, the only - though with absolute credibility - information about this matter is the DOGC - the official journal of the Generalitat de Catalunya, in its Catalan acronym. The editions that set the fees for this year and the past year are linked here, for the information and fair indignation of every predoctoral researcher.

The collective of predoctoral researchers of Catalonia has in this blog a place to centralize information from the different local groups that have started to express their disconformity with this government action and their adhesion to the initiatives that are starting to come from groups as D-Recerca and the diverse predoctoral researchers collectives of research institutes and universities.

Readers are encouraged to think about these questions:

How much does it cost for universities to keep predoctoral researchers academic files?

What do predoctoral researchers get in exchange for the newly introduced payment of 400€?

Will they get what they are suppoused to? With wich warranties?
Is this imposed fee fair?

What is that money used for in the end?

D-Recerca Informative Meeting

A meeting with the aim of deciding the steps to take in trying to stop the rise of registration fees approved by Generalitat de Catalunya has been planned for tomorrow thursday, October the 14th.

The meeting has been organized by the collective D-recerca and will be held at the "Estudiantil" pub, at Plaça Universitat (metro Universitat) from 19h.

This blog supports this event and all readers are encouraged to attend. It will be a nice occasion to get informed about the current situation and how to contribute to its change.