The bank transfers that the Generalitat makes each month to public universities, which includes funds for the salaries of teaching and administrative staff, may be subject to delays in the coming months (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). However, the secretary for universities and research, Antoni Castellà, said that all money owed from the 2011 budget will be settled by December 31st. The delicate state of the Catalan government's finances means that they've had to cut university budgets by 16 percent (€144 million) for this year and now the risk has arisen that monthly salaries won't be paid on time. Previously, some universities had voiced their fears that during October and November, they would receive only around 70 percent of the money to be used to pay salaries. Castellà has, however, given assurances that, at the most, the ordinary transfers will be broken up and paid throughout the month. "Maybe in some cases, the transfers will be delayed by 10 or 15 days; one part will be paid on day one and the rest a bit later, but we will pay all the budget as has been planned," he said. And he added that in some previous months, some payments had been advanced at the request of the governing boards of the universities.
Some foreign children attending school in Catalunya become fluent in Castilian and Catalan within six years, according to the findings of a study carried out by the University of Girona (UdG) (read article in Catalan here, El Punt-Avui). However, the length of time it takes to grasp the languages to this level varies according to country of origin. As such, the research found that children from Latin American countries take six years to learn Catalan, whereas Romanian children can take between six and nine years, while children from Arabic countries tend to finish primary school with a lower level of Castilian than native pupils. The study also concluded that those children who learn Catalan and Castilian faster are those who live in socio-linguistic environments that coincide with the school languages. "In all the stages that we have studied and in other, previous studies, there was a significant distance between the knowledge of the school languages (Castilian and Catalan) of native students compared to that of foreign children," said Nacho Vila, professor of evolutionary and education psychology, and author of the UdG study with Judith Oller. The researchers argue that overcoming these differences won't happen as a result of extra teaching, but through a modification in education practices. "However much extra teaching is done, pupils won't take less time to learn the languages, because the process is what it is," said Vila. According to him, it's necessary to understand that schools are fundamentally there to promote academic knowledge. "This means that, independent of what the student knows of the language of the school, they have to have the same performance in mathematics, social sciences or natural sciences," he added.
The Generalitat's conseller of economy, Andreu Mas-Colell, has said that he is confident of "managing the best possible" price from the sale of property that will avoid an increase in spending cuts for this year, which will be around €2.5 billion (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Mas-Colell was speaking at the presentation of the audit of the Generalitat's accounts for 2010, carried out by Deloitte. He said that the deficit for last year was high and that this had caused knock-on effects, creating tension regarding costs and difficulties for the Catalan government in achieving its objectives. The report said that the Generalitat's accounts were in the red to the tune of €8.4 billion, which is 4.22 percent of the gross national product (PIB or producto interior bruto) in accordance with the latest review of the figures by the Spanish government, and instead of the 3.86 percent (€7.6 billion) included in the 2011 budget that was approved in July. Mas-Colell also criticised the previous coalition government for not having started spending cuts earlier.