El valencià a les universitats públiques

Education in Valencian (and other languages) at the Valencian public universities

12 / 09 / 2016 | Amadeu Sanz

A heterogeneous, highly unequal context

To better understand the situation surrounding education in Valencian and other languages at Valencian public universities, we need to take as our starting point the overall framework in which the Valencian university education system is set and to highlight the profound heterogeneity that is a fundamental feature of the system. Just a few data are needed to demonstrate this. Firstly, there is a huge difference in the numbers of students attending Valencian universities. The smaller universities, such as the Universitat Jaume I in Castelló de la Plana and the Universitat Miguel Hernández in Elx, have roughly 14,000 students while the Universitat de València (the largest university) has approximately 60,000 students. Secondly, there is an important difference in the age of Valencian universities: except for the Universitat de València, whose origins date back over five centuries, every other university was founded in the 20th century: the Politècnica de València in 1968, the Universitat d’Alacant in 1979, and the Universitat Jaume I in 1991, while the Universitat Miguel Hernández was not founded until 1997.
Other differences are observed in, for example, the numbers of teaching and research staff (PDI), the numbers of administration and services staff (PAS), the university campuses, and the range of qualifications offered at each university.
Although each university has numerous characteristics in common with the others, these differences mean that their dynamics and workings are quite different and this naturally affects how each university functions linguistically. Also important, of course, is the region in which each university operates.
We should also bear in mind the socio-political context of the years under analysis. In the period analysed in this article, not only have the public authorities failed to promote the natural language of the Valencian Country but they have done quite the opposite. Various governments of the Spanish state and the Generalitat Valenciana (the autonomous government of València), as well as various town halls and county councils in the Valencian Country, have orchestrated an anti-language policy against the Valencian language.
Another important factor behind the lack of suitable language policies is the dearth of adequate funding for public universities due basically to two reasons: firstly, the crisis in the private financial sector over the last few years has crossed over into the public sector; and secondly, much of the higher education budget over the last twenty years has been diverted to the private universities as well as to doomed projects such as the Valencian International University (VIU).

Overall data

The amount of instruction in Valencian provided at the five public universities therefore depends on the University concerned. To provide an overall picture, below we express the amount of instruction offered in the various languages (Valencian, Spanish, English, and others) as a percentage of the total instruction at each university over the last five academic years (2011/12 to 2015/16). In all cases, these data exclude the figures for instruction in language subjects since this instruction would naturally be provided in the language concerned.
See Charts above.

Data analysis

As we can see from these figures, instruction at the five public Valencian universities is provided mainly in Spanish, though the average for these five academic years fell by almost four percentage points (from 84.86% to 81.10%) between the first and last years analysed. The average figure for instruction in Valencian in the last academic year analysed was 13.65%, which represents a slight increase of just over one percentage point compared to the first academic year analysed (12.32%).
The most encouraging overall data for instruction in Valencian are found in the last academic year (2015-16) at the Universitat de València (34.30%). The least encouraging data, on the other hand, are found at the Universitat Miguel Hernández, where not a single course has been taught in Valencian in the last five years.
The data on instruction in Valencian remained stable at each university over the period studied, except at the Universitat de València, where the figures for the last two academic years (2014-15 and 2015-16) have increased significantly. Specifically, we find that: the UMH has no taught course in Valencian; the figures for the UPV range from 4 to 6.5%; those for the UA range from around 7 to 7.5%; and those for the UJI range from 20 to 21%, while those for the UV have increased from 29.3 to 34.3%.
As we can deduce logically from these data, instruction is practically monolingual in Spanish at the UMH, where the figure for instruction in Spanish is always above 99%. At the other universities, this instruction ranges from 97.5 to 93.5% at the UPV, from 86.5 to 89.5% at the UA, from 74 to 76.5% at the UJI, and from 64 to 57% at the UV.
Also important to highlight is the continued increase in the amount of instruction provided in English. The average figure for the five universities increased from 2.30% to 4.90% over the period studied and in academic year 2015-16 (with the exception of the UMH) this figure stood at over 5.5%.
Finally, instruction given in other languages (with an average figure of 0.05% for academic year 2015-16) is not very significant. We should mention, however, that no figures are available for two universities (the UJI and the UPV) and that the UMH provides no courses with instruction in a foreign language other than English.


Our data analysis demonstrates that instruction in Valencian is suffering from a general stagnation. The exception to this trend is found at the Universitat de València, where the last two academic years analysed (2014-15 and 2015-16) have seen a significant increase of 3.3 percentage points and 1.7 percentage points, respectively, compared to the preceding years. This represents an increase of five percentage points in the last two academic years analysed.
At the UJI the lecturer is largely responsible for choosing the language of instruction, whereas at the UV (up until the academic year 2012-13) and at the UPV and UA (with one or two slight differences), a policy of “groups” by language is applied.
This situation was highlighted in the conclusions to Els usos lingüístics a les universitats públiques valencianes (a report on the language uses of the public universities in the Valencian Country), which was written by university lecturers Artur Aparici and Rafael Castelló and published in 2011 by the Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua (Valencian Academy of Language). The authors stated that any progress would require a change in existing university language policy and suggested that “to be effective, any language policy aimed at the normalisation of Valencian, which is currently a minority language, should be formulated as a policy of equality”. And they continued, “A policy of equality for the two languages would aim to create a Valencian university after 25 years that is bilingual, i.e. a university where 50% of the instruction given is in Valencian [...]. We stress that we are not advocating a duplication of the teaching load with two whole tracks (one in Valencian and one in Spanish) but a distribution of the load whereby Valencian is assigned randomly to half of the subjects, which students should be able to take without worrying about which language the course is taught in”.
This is precisely what the Universitat de València has achieved. On 26 June 2012, the UV University Senate passed its Pla d’Increment de la Docència en València (plan to increase instruction in Valencian) based on the above report. This plan established that each year “minimum percentages” would be set “for instruction in Valencian at the bachelor’s degree, long-degree, short-degree and engineering degree levels and an annual increase would be set that should enable a figure of at least 35% to be reached within five years and an even distribution of instruction between the two official languages within 10 years of the approval of this plan”.
The plan also established that, from June 2015 onwards, every call for the hiring of teaching staff should include a requirement that candidates must accredit a linguistic competence of level C1 (intermediate) in Valencian. As we have seen, these measures have borne fruit: we refer you to the article by Rafael Castelló in the present publication, which describes the measures that have been implemented.
Having analysed the data and the above experiences, we now list five proposals aimed at achieving linguistic equality at Valencian universities:

  1. As Aparici and Castelló proposed in their report, a substantial change must be made to current university language policies in favour of a real language policy of equality. As we have seen, the model by which university lecturers (e.g. UJI) or university students (e.g. UV, UPV and UA) choose the language of instruction leads to stagnation in the provision of instruction in Valencian. On the other hand, as the UV has demonstrated beyond doubt, the proposal for linguistic equality, i.e. the idea that everyone who studies at a Valencian university should be provided tuition in Valencian, Spanish and at least one international language of communication, is the only way to increase year on year the amount of teaching provided in Valencian.
    To achieve this change, the universities need to introduce similar regulations to those passed by the UV while also bearing in mind that the starting points for each university are quite different, especially at the universities where instruction in Valencian is either non-existent (the UMH) or low (the UPV and the UA). Much easier is the situation at the UJI thanks both to current levels of teaching in Valencian and to the region in which the University is located.
  2. The Generalitat Valenciana (the autonomous government of València) must also radically change its language policy. It must implement a regulation to enforce a minimum amount of instruction in Valencian (as well as in international languages of communication) and link compliance with this regulation to funding and approval for university projects.
  3. The Generalitat Valenciana must also apply more generally the requirement that anyone wishing to enter service in the public university system as PDI (teaching and research staff) or PAS (administration and services staff) must be linguistically competent in the Valencian language.
  4. Language policy applied to infant, primary and secondary education and vocational training must also change. The basic levels of education must be taught in Valencian because if students on arriving at university have already gained sufficient knowledge of Valencian, they will have no difficulty studying courses leading to any qualification.
  5. A resolute determination is needed to increase the amount of instruction provided in an international language of communication. Although the last few academic years have seen a steady increase in this type of instruction, the percentage is still very low.

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