“Excellence? Yes, but in Spanish!”

“Even a Nobel laureate would now be unlikely to be appointed to the science teaching faculty in many of Spain’s best universities.”

This is how begins a note recently published in the journal Nature in which Pau Carazo and Enrique Font denounce the nonsensical scheme imposed by Spanish universities. Indeed, in 2016, tenure-track positions and public fundings for PhD candidates will be “conditional on a fluency in Spanish and/or the university’s regional language”. This absurdity arises under the pretext of cultural safeguard and local languages promotion. Needless to point out that Spanish universities will be the first victims to these preposterous measures, privileging culture over excellence. It will inevitably lead off a tendency toward mediocrity, as positions will be far less competitive and granted based on non-scientific criteria.

The authors do not neglect the importance to protect the Spanish cultural heritage but science is a realm in which excellence should always have precedence over everything else. The authors propose an alternative solution, which consists in providing language tuition once a candidate has been granted a position. While the selection criteria would not be affected, local culture would be promoted and a foreign scientist would learn a new language. It is a win for everyone. Let’s hope Spanish universities hear this alarm call and show some common sense in the near future.


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