Second class of young Prometeus students graduate

Acte de graduació de la 2a promoció del programa Prometeus
14/11/2022 - 20:58 h - Education and studies Ajuntament de Barcelona

The Prometeus programme continues to bear fruit. The initiative, born in the Raval neighbourhood and promoted by the Pla de Barris (Neighbourhood Plan) in collaboration with Barcelona Science and Universities, encourages young people to enter university in neighbourhoods where access rates are below average. Today, in the Saló de Cent of Barcelona City Council, the graduation ceremony for the second class of young people who have gone to university thanks to the Prometeus programme took place, six girls and two boys.

The graduation ceremony was presided over by the Mayorness of Barcelona, Ada Colau, who thanked the entire network of people and organisations that have promoted and made the Prometeus programme possible: local neighbourhood organisations, different areas of the Administration, public institutes and universities. In her speech, the mayoress also insisted that programmes such as Prometeus aim to correct injustices and disadvantages that occur in society and that the public administration cannot ignore.

The event was also attended by Jordi Martí, Deputy Mayor for Culture, Education, Science and Community, who reinforced the Mayoress’s message: “the main aim of Pla de Barris, with projects like Prometeus, is that wherever you are born, whatever your postcode, wherever you live and whenever you have arrived, the city offers you the same opportunities, and we know that we are still far from achieving this”. He also highlighted the new problems that are opening up with each step forward that is taken to ensure that more young people reach university. In this sense, he expressed the commitment of the entire team to overcome these challenges so that everyone has the same rights and opportunities to study and build a life project as any other young person.

With today’s graduation ceremony, 23 people have now completed their university studies. Most of them, both last year’s graduates and this year’s, are already working in their field of knowledge. From their experience, the young graduates now form the Prometeus Club, which meets regularly, organises activities and supports other young Prometeus students.

This academic year 2022-2023, the Prometeus programme already accompanies 193 young people (last year there were 159), of whom 147 are at university (UB, UAB, UPC, UPF and UOC) or have already graduated. The overall figure also includes 32 young people who are studying higher education courses (CFGS) as a bridge to university or young people who are in transition, for example, to sit the university entrance exams again.

Growth of the Prometeus programme

The increase in the number of young people participating in the Prometeus programme coincides with a new extension, completed at the beginning of the year, in three new secondary schools (and neighbourhoods): INS Flos and Calcat (La Prosperitat), INS Barcelona Congreso (Cerro de la Peira and Can Peguera) and INS Consell de Cent (Poble Sec). There are now eight Prometeus institutes. Likewise, the collaboration with universities has been extended to the UOC, given that several young people are studying as a bridge to the on-site university.

This growth of Prometeus also has other aspects. Thus, the Ciutat Vella District, in collaboration with the programme, has extended Prometeus to the INS Salvat Papasseit in Barceloneta (where the Neighbourhood Plan does not operate, unlike the rest of the neighbourhoods with Prometeus institutes). This year, Prometeus Manlleu has also been launched (to be formalised shortly by means of an agreement between the municipalities), which is already accompanying two young people from Manlleu to university. Along these lines, other Catalan municipalities such as Granollers or Badalona, and also Pamplona (Navarra) have shown interest in the possibility of deploying the programme in their municipalities.

New challenges

The experience of the first years of the Prometeus programme and various social factors pose three main challenges. In recent years, in the wake of the pandemic, there has been an increase in the cut-off marks for university entrance which has made it difficult for Prometeus young people to access university. Often, these young people have also been left without a place in the CFGS which, in the framework of the programme, often become bridges to university. To help remedy this situation of unequal access to university, the Municipal Advisory Council for Universities (CAMU) is drafting a proposal in the form of an opinion to reserve university places for students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.

The loss of legal residence permits in Spain is another challenge. Several young people have found themselves in this situation in recent years, with the consequent threat of expulsion and interruption of studies and denial of the general grant from the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MEFP), which is vital given the socio-economic situation of these young people and their families. To address this situation, the programme has coordinated with a group of specialised lawyers to seek advice and support in the processing of appeals or allegations. Despite the initial results, the majority of cases are still open, with the instability and difficulties that this entails in the pursuit of studies.

Thirdly, in the last academic year there have been cases in which AGAUR, at the request of the MEFP, has asked several young people to return the amount of the general scholarship received in previous years, due to not having passed the minimum credits required to receive the scholarship. These cases have to do with a change of degree and/or with supervening situations, which in the framework of the Prometeus programme are particularly frequent, but in no case have they meant a real abandonment of the studies, to the point that this year one of these people who has been claimed the return of the grant received years ago is graduating.

The economic situation of these young people and their families is very fragile, so that the return of the money within the established deadlines and in a single payment, as stipulated, is unfeasible in most cases. Moreover, as this is a retroactive measure, it is expected that similar cases will arise in the future. The programme’s efforts to find a reasonable solution to these cases and at the same time to reconsider the regulations, in the sense of taking into account the whole educational trajectory instead of the academic year in isolation, have not yet borne fruit. In view of this situation, the Prometeus programme has decided to seek advice on the economic consequences of these processes and for the formulation of allegations.