Society 06/09/2021

High Court again orders university entrance exam to be offered with no preference for Catalan

Examiners will not be allowed to distribute tests in Catalan and later ask who wants them in Spanish nor "identify" the pupils

3 min
Students taking their university entrance exams at the Faculty of Biology of the UB.

BarcelonaThe 2021 university entrance exams were marked by the judicial decision to stop prioritising Catalan in exams and to distribute the questions in Spanish too. That order was published when the exams were already printed and the Generalitat came outand stated the exams would not change: the exams would be distributed in Catalan and anyone who wanted to could ask for them in Spanish or Aranese, as had always been the case. Less than 24 hours before the start of the September exam date, which is held between Tuesday and Thursday, Catalonia's High Court has reissued a resolution ordering the Catalan Department for Universities and Research and the Inter-University Council of Catalonia "not to identify" the students who choose to take the tests in Spanish and to offer the students "the statements in any of the co-official languages of Catalonia, without preference for any of them", since the decision corresponds to the students in whichever way allows them to complete the exercises to the best of their abilities. In practice, the judicial decision means each student will have to be asked individually in which language he or she wants to read the statements of the exams before starting each test.

This is the main difference with the June exams, when students who wanted the question papers in Spanish were asked to raise their hands. Less than 5% of students in Catalonia asked for it. Now the Generalitat has already communicated the changes that the judicial resolution entails, which will oblige examiners "not to write down the students' preferred linguistic option by consigning names and surnames" and to ask "in which language the student wants to be given the statement, without the rest of the students having to know how the examinee exercises his right, that is, the exercise of his freedom to choose".

The decision of the court is, in fact, an amendment to the actions of the Generalitat in the previous call. The judges reproach those in charge of the exam for considering that the instructions dictated in June were "complementary", when the court had suspended in full the statements on the exams and had forced the Generalitat to give the same treatment to all three languages. That is why, the court says, the email the Generalitat sent the day before to all the students who were taking the exams in which it explained that the tests were available in all the co-official languages "is insufficient to comply with students' rights". In addition, the court states that the document printed and placed on all the doors of the classrooms to remember that the statements could be requested in Catalan, Spanish and Aranese "forgets the student's right to not having to signify" through their language option and it "does not guarantee their anonymity". Likewise, the court reproaches the Generalitat that alleging the high cost of printing the statements of the tests "cannot enervate the obligation to be respectful of plurality".

Asking pupil by pupil

The judges' decision, therefore, agrees with the Assembly for a Bilingual School, an anti-linguistic immersion organisation that has already achieved several judicial victories in this regard. According to the organisation, the TSJC's ruling means the exams "cannot be distributed first in Catalan" but "a single copy with all the official languages [will have to be handed out] or at the time of distribution the student [will be able to choose] a copy in the official language of their choice". That is to say, the invigilators will have to ask each student in which language they want the statements and not take for granted that everyone wants them Catalan and then, if necessary, deliver the tests in Spanish to those who expressly request it.

In total, 5,121 students will be examined from tomorrow in the September date for university entrance exams, a much lower figure in June. Half of those enrolled (2,582) will take the general phase of the tests and some of the specific phase exams. The other half (2,539) will take only the specific phase tests (1,786 are high school students and 753 are students of higher education). Of the 2,582, 75% are students taking the test for the first time and 25% are repeating the test to improve their marks.

By university district, 1,560 students are from the UB, 1,046 from the UAB, 858 from the UPC, 457 from the UPF, 457 from the UdG, 246 from the UdL and 497 from the URV. In total there will be 34 correcting teams, which will be located in Barcelona (22), Bellaterra (6), Girona (2), Lleida (2) and Tarragona (2). Students will be able to consult the results of the exams from 20 September.