On a number of occasions, José Ignacio Wert has pointed out that fees at Spanish universities are the lowest in Europe, and the fact that 85% of fees are subsidised by the state is equivalent to giving every student a grant.
A fee increase could be one of the measures he takes to combat what he has described as inefficiency in the universities, with a large proportion of lecturers neither carrying out research nor creating knowledge.
One study has suggested that universities should specialise either in teaching or in investigation. The study, carried out by Fundación BBVA shows that the main iniefficiencies in the university system relate to the fact that all lecturers are paid research time but fewer than half of them regularly publish results.
The minister is also believed to be looking at ways of reducing losses on the less popular courses. The report suggests that 29% of courses attract fewer than 40 new students each year. More than a quarter of degree courses do not reach the critical mass in terms of efficiency, Wert said at the last meeting of the Council of Ministers. It's not a case of having too many universities or too few students, but rather a need to find the optimum balance between supply and demand, he added.