The universal truth is that there is no knowledge without understanding, nor science without people.
The difficulty to understand and accept the processes of geological scale, behind plate tectonics and the movement of continents, derived from the time scale in which they are measured, which is so detached from the human scale. The idea of time is associated with experience and emotions, the concept is built by rationality.
The appalling decline in Portuguese demography is noticeable in statistics, but people live their daily routine as if nothing was changing. Tomorrow will be the same as yesterday. What change? It is only when we travel to other countries such as Brazil, Thailand, Angola that we face a real shock to see so many young people!
At the Portuguese university, the atmosphere is daunting: there won’t be enough students. And there is a race to attract foreign students, so that there is enough student population to support and justify the existing structures and employees.
The shock is most evident in the periphery, however, the universities of the largest population centres have already felt harassed. And fear is a bad adviser. This is a warning, not an accusation: without strategy and thought, in the rush to get people who pay tuition fees and fill the rooms, there is a risk of abandoning the most qualified to the predation of more prestigious or equipped competitors and only recruiting in the lesser quality strata or in the lesser promising backgrounds. It will be a shot in the foot – because, by immediately getting recruits, the quality of the degrees will suffer and, concurrently, the attractiveness of what matters will be progressively decreased, rather than emphasised.
And the Portuguese science, which is already suffering from the lack of native workforce, will witness a contraction process, in line with the general contraction of a country that is languishing away.
Therefore, it’s urgent to reinforce a national, conscientious and also mobilising appeal – and to contribute to the design of strategies to create prestige in carefully selected targeted markets. It is necessary that students, researchers, scientists want to choose Portugal because it is a place of excellence and not because the country is beautiful and with a cheap living cost.
Portuguese science is an obvious ally, an instrument to be used well for a strategy to create prestige. Don’t content yourself with school qualities.
Aquam in cribro gerere. A Latin expression that means “to hide behind a pointing finger”. It’s just not worth it. Portugal will desperately need massive immigration, or there will be Portugal no more. It’s better to have a thought behind the action than to leave things up in the air. To prestige such a policy will be necessary, because we know about the hostile impulses that can be awakened by simple actions, which is to say, disastrous ones.
At the present time, the fact that the Portuguese science is socially prestigious will be one of the most useful drivers to give a positive image to a healthy immigration policy, which is so necessary to the survival of this remarkable country that is in danger.