With the end of his term approaching, the president of the European University Association Rolf Tarrach talks to Ben Upton about the past, present and future.
When Rolf Tarrach moved from Valencia to Barcelona in 1971 to do a PhD in physics, Spain was still firmly in the grip of dictator Francisco Franco. “Many students were imprisoned or taken by the police,” the president of the European University Association recalls.
In the later years of his PhD, Tarrach was working as a teaching assistant and saw someone throw a statue of Franco out of the University of Barcelona. Such acts of rebellion did not go unpunished. “I remember teaching in a cafeteria because the faculty was shut down by the police,” he says of another incident.