Michele Ciavarella *
As wisely writes Prof. Tabellini on Sole24ore on January 5, the Minister Profumo is beginning to suffer from the will to solve unsolvable problems in Italian burocracy, in the very narrow gap left by the Gelmini law to too many conflicting determinations. He wants to make meritocracy, but he forces thousands of professors to an exercise to form coalitions verticistically but in the end this confused and foolish process will result in money distributed as rain everywhere, not without the risk, however, that the rain let dry areas of the country very fertile of good ideas. Proposal: why not return the rain distribution? Areas of highly concentrated resources already exists in one particular place, IIT.
In yesterday’s Sole24ore (January 11th), one of the authors (Ciavarella) wished to raise an issue even more explosive: the start of a Plan of Recruitment of Associate Professors constructed primarily to meet the (relatively) right ambitions of masses of researchers on permanent contracts (23 thousand?) to “keep them quiet” after the riots. But the Minister with some strong determination, also used his power to begin to differentiate between the University in a First and Second League. or as he prefers to say, “virtuous” or “non’virtuous” Universities.
Now 20 of the 27 non-virtuous Rectors have kindly asked the Minister to reconsider the matter, at least in the next year and to recover evenly over this abuse for innocent individuals, as reported in your journal as well. But nowadays, nothing at all has departed of the Plan, so there is basically not a single happy category. Apart from a fortunate few who have qualified already during previous hiring competitions, whom, in contrast to the overall idea of the Plan, may be taken into service, though only if they have a driver’s license “virtuoso”, or if you want to move to a Virtuosa University, with the money of this Plan.
The situation on the whole unjust, unconstitutional, perhaps, in some parts clearly so. The internal competitions, ex.art.26c.4, thus becoming the first “closed” indoor competition of Italian history that does not only explicitly exclude other categories, but part of them, arbitrary defined!
We are not lawyers, but the problem is, both from a strategic point of view, and of opportunity for the country, a big mistake, and in constrast to sustainable spending during the crisis as in the line of Monti Government. It risks a revolt of almost all the Italian universities, and not only of researchers like a year ago, up to maybe forcing minister Profumo to dismiss. Hoping that does not mean the government Mountains!
Now, to see if there is unconstitutional problem, how long do we have to wait? Rectors can not, instead of asking “please” to the Minister to reconsider the matter next year, and knowing that next year we will most likely be not able to recover (some estimates that the bulk of the Plan is just the one just given, Eu 78 millions out of … how much?), immediately intervene with the Administrative Court, and raise the issue with force, without individuals having to spend energy to organize themselves, coordinate and discuss forever, in other words burden themselves with unnecessary weight, and among other things distracted than normal work as in a normal country?
The case of Consortia of Rectors going to the Administrative Court (TAR) has few precedents, as the battle against Minister Bindi, 27 Rectors who were mainly pushed by the powerful Medicine Faculties, or when it came to differentiate the University from the point of view of the credits, incidentally an attempt to separate the Universities again. We do not mention the other hand, individual appeals to the TAR of Rectors willing to extend their mandate, which is something quite different in class than the appeal that we are launching here. We know that this may still cause Rectors to expose themselves to the risk of friction with the Minister, but for once, this would be for the right cause!
As you well know, perhaps the American Universities to which Minister Profumo points, receive thousands of applications. U.S. competition is good, and also Tabellini, the Rector of Bocconi, would like it. But we are not prepared today in the Italian Burocratic system!
Indeed, as Tabellini said, the research grants PRIN were done in that bizzarre way as we do not know otherwise how to evaluate meritocratically, all the more reason we do not have the organizational capacity to carry out 5000 recruitment contests, if any (from non permanent staff to foreigners) will apply to the jobs, knowing that theoretically they do not have the right, but instead assuming they have , because of the atmosphere of non costitutionality of the Plan.
We’re not even dwelling on other aspects of the absurd Plan, as the usual haste and lack of transparency in communicating values, procedures, and little sharing of decision, designed perhaps to split. But if It is a sign of the present government, then use this strength to make much needed Reforms of the Rectruitment processes, which never have been done to previous governments, including the previous Berlusconi one who made this framework within which the Plan is sitting.
We mention only the nice contribution of Marco Torchiano that signals a further problem on the “non-closed” competitions, on which insists the only remote hope of meritocracy. ¨In conclusion I do not think there is a legitimate and practical method to ensure a 20% external winning candidates. Provided that such use of the Plan would be not optimized and delay the resources allocated, the hope is that common sense will prevail: a ¨Special¨ plan cannot be part of the ordinary programming and therefore the ordinary share of 20% should not apply to those funds¨!
Is the Plan Extraordinary because it does not respect the law, because it is lavish and anti-meritocratic and anti-functional? Whether a new road Salerno-Reggio Calabria, where the great economist Paolo Sylos Labini used to say: ¨speak to me about it only once more, and I am ready to take the use of arms!¨
Returning to high flying, take into account of the possible 5000 “armored” competitions in the coming years. 1000 applications for each of the 5000 competitions. It is 5 million applications, which the Boards must consider carefully, with proper stamps to send, a real hell. But then how do the they do it at Harvard? Let’s face it, the questions is that of the 1000 applications which come, many are not even looked at! The commettee takes only those who are recommended by big names, trusting that recommendation. Are you shocked? Yet it is so. And it is useless to pursue the dreams of the bureaucracy, which eventually resulted in some much less than Harvard.
In general, because no one knew how to assess merit, as long as there was no financial crisis, let’s face it, we mass promoted. Operation of mass promotions have been almost all the waves of competitions, from the year 1980 (43,000 stabilizations), the hiring by Berlinguer (increase of 50% of full professors) who had originally the idea of international committees that the parliament promptly vetoed. In the great binge, the deserving ones with merit passed in general as well as the mass. Although some say, in recent years, it is becoming different. Since the rules have become more byzantine, and money much less, the anger, the mistrust, the usual brain drain are beginning to mount.
Now of this new “mass promotion” that Min Profumo wants to do, we must redraw at the very least, important details. Because we are at a point of no return. Who should pay now for the huge mistakes? The weak, the researchers (assistant professors) working in universities (and not only those of the non-virtuous, since the money will not be enough for everyone, and procedures are not transparent and meritocratic), the non permanent workers who will see further and further away their permanent positions (when most researchers of the new term will come to be mature, the money of the Plan will be finished, and the problem will come back even worse than today), the young students in general that they would not even have a quiet university, let alone excellent, or virtuous one? Perhaps in eliminating basic subjects, we have forgotten the Greek and Latin root of the word ¨virtuoso¨ , or we have forgotten the true Italian virtuosos of the past, from Paganini to Leonardo.
The problem is almost generational, and we know that young people suffer too much about the faults of their predecessors. And now even some more than others, not even being able, with Min Profumo´s plan, to manage to satisfy one of the categories. The problem affects the family, the citizens. Relates to a transition of a system that wants to change but does so without being prepared.
So let the Rectors stop all this mess, with a nice TAR appeal of at least 20 non-virtuous of them. And let us have immediately the decision by the Constitutional Court. There are no previous judgments on the subject, but the case of a contest “sealed” for only part of a category, say only for the Police “virtuous” station of Roma ¨Tiburtina¨ , has never been seen. So we need a new ruling of the Court. Now!
Prof. Michele Ciavarella, First Signataire.
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We Meanwhile, as Humboldt, we made a modest proposal, also re-launched with a lot of echo on a blog of Harvard (we like to look at Harvard, and Harvard is looking at us, if the link has had almost 5,000 readings from 24 December to now. (Http://imechanica.org/node/11626). The Minister has not responded yet, we know others proposals are in preparation by the Gruppo2003 Highly Cited scientists in Italy, and we are ready to do others, on an international scale, and in English, while the Ministry that speaks of excellence to attract from abroad did not permit the web system to have applications in English. Paradoxically, one of the proposals emerging is to imitate the Acceleration careers Plan of the Rector Profumo, i.e. when he was Rector of Politecnico di Torino and launched this experimentally, not being possible to have it as a law. We want back the virtuous Rector Profumo! Is it here that applies Peter Principle?
* Associate Mechanical Design at the Polytechnic of Bari