Constitutional Law recognizes private universities students same right as public campuses

The Constitutional Court has decided that students from private universities will have the right to access public scholarships on equal terms with those from public universities.

In this sense, the court has issued a ruling in which it grants protection to the Catholic University of Valencia against certain rules of the Valencian Generalitat in the university sphere.

Specifically, what said university questioned was that the autonomous community could establish a differentiated regime on scholarships for university studies in private centers. The regional regulations enshrined this difference , which made it possible to limit private scholarships to those degrees that did not exist in the public university.

This provision is what the Constitutional Court has interpreted by majority as violating the right to equal access to the aforementioned aid.

This was the main allegation of the Valencian university, which argued in its appeal that said regional regulation caused it unjustified damage, since the scholarship system has effects on the financing of the center itself. Their claim, therefore, consisted of obtaining full equality with public universities in accessing the aforementioned grants.

If the matter reached the Constitutional Court, it was because this claim was not addressed in the first place by the Superior Court of Justice of Valencia, which rejected the appeal of the Valencian university.

Once the ordinary judicial process was exhausted, the center went to the Constitutional Court in a request for protection and has obtained it with the vote of the conservative sector of the court, in a sentence that has registered three votes against, corresponding to the three magistrates of the progressive bloc, María Luisa Balaguer, Cándido Conde Pumpido and Juan Antonio Xiol. All three have announced dissenting dissenting votes .

These magistrates have questioned the legitimacy of the Catholic University of Valencia to appeal for a right that belongs to the students and not the university.

On the other hand, they have also disagreed with the existence of a constitutional right to absolute equality in access to scholarships granted by the Generalitat with public funds among students from private and public universities, because the economic regime is different in both types of universities, both in terms of their prices and their financing.

The vice-rector general of the Universidad Católica de València, Ricardo García, already stated at the beginning of this controversy with the Valencian Generalitat that “all the legal actions necessary to reestablish this fundamental right would be exercised, first trusting in the Superior Court of Justice of Valencian Community and, where appropriate, before the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights ”.

With the ruling obtained now, a new initiative will no longer be required before the Strasbourg Court, to which said university was willing to go, since, according to García, “it should not be forgotten that it is the university that files the appeal, but it is to defend those directly affected, who are the students ”.

The Catholic University of Valencia argued in its actions against the Ministry of Education of said community that the contested rule violated the right to equality of students, by introducing “an unjustified difference between public and private universities, clearly discriminating against them” .

The Generalitat, in turn, alleged – as the magistrates of the progressive sector have argued during the Constitutional debates – that a legal person, such as the Catholic University of Valencia, cannot assume representation as their own of the fundamental rights of its students.

He also argued that private school students can count on complementary scholarships, apart from the fact that those who attend a private university do so as a freely chosen option. With these and other arguments,

In the first instance, the Valencian High Court found that “there is no content in the precepts that are considered to be infringing the principle of equality of a right that recognized to the public university, as a center, is not recognized to the private university with the same consideration since the only mention that they make of one and the other is with reference to the origin of the student body applying for the respective scholarships ”.

The Constitutional Court, on the other hand, has considered that this violation of the fundamental right to equality and non-discrimination did exist in the autonomous regulations.

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