Josemaría Escrivá Obras

Who do you think should have the right to found centres of higher education and under what circumstances? What powers should the State reserve for itself in higher education? Do you consider autonomy a basic principle for the organisation of university education? Could you indicate the broad lines along which an autonomous system should be based?

The right to found educational centres is only one aspect of freedom in general. I consider personal freedom necessary for everyone and in everything that is morally lawful. Hence, every person or association in a position to do so should have the possibility of founding centres of education under equal conditions and without unnecessary obstacles.

The function of the State depends upon the social situation and this will differ from Germany to England, from Japan to the United States, to mention countries with very different educational systems. The State has clear duties in terms of encouragement, control and supervision of education. And this demands equality of opportunity for both private and State undertakings. To supervise is neither to obstruct, nor to impede or restrict freedom.

That is why I consider autonomy in teaching necessary: autonomy is another way of saying academic freedom. The university, as a corporate whole, must have the independence of an organ in a living body. That is, it must have freedom within its specific task of service to the common good. Some of the signs of an effective autonomy could be these: the freedom to select its professors and administrative staff; the freedom to establish its curricula; scope for building up and administering its own endowment: in a word, all the necessary conditions for a university to be able to lead its own life, as a service to society as a whole.

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