Scholarships for students on Philosophy, Politics, and Economics degree

2013-2014 academic year saw the launch of A.4U new joint degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, a 4-year cross-disciplinary study programme, which will be taught jointly by four universities of the Alliance: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, which will take part in delivering the degree in the future.

Students will follow their courses in Madrid and Barcelona where the four universities are located, and will be encouraged to go on international exchange programmes, which will mean increased travel and subsistence costs. To help students face these costs, A-4U and Welfare projects of “La Caixa” Foundation have signed a cooperation agreement, according to which “la Caixa” Foundation will provide between 100 and 200 scholarships for a total of 600.000 Euros, which will be allocated on the basis of students’ academic results and equal opportunities principles.

This agreement was recently signed by Jaume Casals, UPF Rector, on behalf of A-4U, and Jaime Lanaspa, Executive Director of Welfare Projects of “la Caixa” Foundation. According to the agreement, the following funding will be made available in the next four years: 60.000 Euros (amounting to 10-20 scholarships) during 2013-2014 academic year; 120.000 Euros (20-40 scholarships) during 2014-2015; 180.000 Euros (30-60 scholarships) during 2015-2016, and 240.000 Euros (40-80 scholarships) in 2016-2017.

According to the agreement, A-4U will contribute all human, material and technical resources that are necessary for delivering the new programme and managing the scholarships scheme. UPF, which acts as the overall coordinator of the new degree, will be responsible for the financial and administrative management of the scholarships.

A pioneering programme for the Spanish university system

Philosophy, Politics, and Economics programme consists of 240 ECTS credits and includes basic training courses, core subject, case study seminars, specialization pathways in Economics, Political Science, Philosophy and Law, Humanities and Communications, internships, international exchange programmes and completion of a final project.

Courses will be taught in Catalan, Spanish or English, depending on the sibject, and the tuition fee during the first year, taught at UPF, is 1.656 Euros.

During the registration period in June, 5,65 applications were received for each of 20 places available on the programme, with the cut-off mark of 11,93, the second highest at UPF. In addition to 20 places at UPF, 10 more places were offered through UC3M (with a 12,018 cut-off mark, the highest at the university) and another 10 at UAM (with a 10,718 cut-off mark).

During their second year, students will study in Madrid (one semester at UC3M and other at UAM), and during the third year they will be encouraged to do on international exchange programmes. During their fourth year, students will be undertaking their final project in one of participating A-4U universities or at an international exchange destination. Students will also follow optional courses and specialization pathways (in Spain or abroad), and will have the opportunity to undertake internships.

41 students from all over Spain

The profile of the 41 students registered registered for the first year is as follows: 90,2% are less than 18 y.o.; 7,3% are 19-20 y.o., 2,4% are more than 30 y.o. 46,3% are men and 53,7% are women. 39% reside permanently in Barcelona province, 7% in the rest of Catalonia, 27% live in Madrid province and 27% come from the rest of Spain.

Spanish Cultures Week in Moscow

During 16-20 of September, A-4U held a Spanish Cultures Week, hosted by Russian State University for the Humanities (RGGU) in Moscow.

As part of the Week, five academics from varios areas of Humanities and the director of tailor-made study programmes at UAB gave lectures on Spanish Contemporary History, Geography and Literature, as well as presentations of academic offer at A-4U universities to students and academics at RGGU.

The Week has been organised on the initiative of Igor Mednikov, Director of Iberian Studies Centre at RGGU who visited A-4U universities in 2012. The aim of the Week was to further develop existing contacts between RGGU and A-4U with a view to engage in cooperation in teaching and research, and to contribute to the Spanish-Russian dialogue in science, education and culture.

In the framework of the Week, A-4U representatives also participated in the Conference of Russian Hispanists’ Association, (link in Spanish) which took place on September 18-19 in Moscow and gave presentations of their research.

The Spanish Cultures Week received the support of Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX).

Call for applications for 12 postdoctoral grants is now open

A-4U universities are internationally renowned for the quality and innovation in their research. As part of their efforts to consolidate research mobility, this year A-4U offers 12 postdoctoral grants in all areas of knowledge.

12 postdoctoral grants will be allocated in the following way:

– 8 grants are open to candidates from A-4U universities.

– 4 grants are open to candidates from any university in Spain or abroad, including those from A-4U universities.

Applications and accompanying documentation should be submitted from June 5 to June 17, 2013.

For more information, click here.

A-4U awarded European funding for a project on renewable energies in Africa

A-4U is to participate in a joint project with African universities to design content for postgraduate programmes that help assess renewable energy policies.

These postgraduate programmes will train professionals in the assessment of energy access policies in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. An inter-disciplinary team from the four universities of A-4U will take part in the project, lead by experts form the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology at UAB. Other project participants include: Bergen University (Norway), a UN-agency Food and Agriculture Organization (Italy), Stellenbosch University (South Africa), University of Botswana (Botswana), Polytechnic of Namibia (Namibia) and an international organization New Partnership for African Development (South Africa).

The three-year project has been awarded 500,000 Euros of EU funding in the framework of “Edulink II: cooperation programme in higher education”. It arose as a result of A-4U institutional visit to South Africa in 2012, and is the first European project driven by A-4U.

Project activities will start in September 2013 with the first workshops taking place in Stellenbosch in South Africa.

Institutional visit to Turkey

From February 25 5o March 1, A-4U delegation visited Turkey with the aim of encouraging bilateral collaboration between Turkish institutions and A-4U members in teaching, research, and technology transfer. The delegation included Vice-Rectors of International Relations and Strategic Projects, directors of Science and Technology Parks of A-4U universities, as well as the director of A-4U office in Brussels (OPERA), and A-4U coordinator of international relations.

The visit centred on Ankara and Istanbul, and included meetings at the following universities: Middle East Technical University, Bilkent University, TOBB University of Economics and Technology, Bosphorus University, Sabanci University, Koç University, Istanbul University, and Istanbul Technical University. Discussions focused on proposals of collaboration in student and staff exchange, development of joint programmes, internships for A-4U students in Turkish companies, as well as joint participation in research projects in the framework of EU programme Horizon 2020. In addition, A-4U promoted its English-taught undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, and Spanish language teaching for Turkish students.

The delegation also met with top representatives of YOK (Council of Higher Education), TUBITAK (Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey), KOSGEB (Small and Medium Industry Development Organisation), permanent EU Delegation to Turkey, Instituto Cervantes, Spanish Embassy, Marmara Research Centre, and Science and Technology Parks of Bilkent University, Metutech, Istanbul Technopark and ARI Technopark.

During the visit, representatives of A-4U Science and Technology Parks had an opportunity to find out about activities of their Turkish counterparts, and advance in the design of collaborative actions to bring together industry and research and consolidate new technology-based businesses through soft landing actions for Spanish and Turkish companies interested in internationalisation.

Lluís Quintana, Vice-Rector for International Relations at UAB and spokesperson on behalf of A-4U, said: “With more than 50% of its population being less than 30 years old, Turkey is a young country, and boasts a large number of university students. During our visit to universities, R&D agencies, and science and technology parks, we had an opportunity to explore possibilities for collaboration in a range of areas, starting from student exchange and promotion of the Spanish language to joint participation in EU research projects under Horizon 2020, and exchange of good practice in technology transfer and support of technology-based entrepreneurs, thus encompassing the three missions of the university that coincide with those of A-4U”.

New conjunct degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics

An innovative and pioneering initiative in Spanish university studies, this four-year degree, with mobility and flexibility being its main charasteristics, will offer places for 40 students (10 per university and 20 per autonomous community) starting from September 2013.

The new joint degree programme, another step in the strategic development of A-4U, was presented yesterday by Josep Joan Moreso, rector of UPF, José M. Sanz, rector of UAM, Daniel Peña, rector of UC3M, and Gloria González, Vice-Rector for Quality, Teaching and Skills Transfer of UAB, at a press conference at UPF.

Josep Joan Moreso, rector of UPF, summarised the spirit behind this initiative: “This is a joint project launched by four universities, which share a number of objectives. We would like students who register for the new degree to feel members of all four universities”.

According to José M. Sanz, rector of UAM and current president of A-4U, “We are talking about a cross-disciplinary and innovative programme that is unique to the university studies in Spain. It is highly demanded and is oriented to the training of political and social elites”. He added: “Two years have been spent on defining contents and finding synergies. We have tried to identify convergence points among the three disciplines, which are areas of excellence at four universities of A-4U”.

Daniel Peña, rector of UC3M, insisted on the opportunities, provided by the new programme: “It is a way to share syllabus and experiences, and to learn from best practices. In a word, it is a way to advance our joint learning”.

UPF will act as the overall coordinator of the programme, with each discipline being coordinated by one of the universities: Philosophy – UAM, Political Science – UPF, and Economics – UC3M.

Characteristics of the new programme

The distinctive feature of the new degree is that it seeks to adapt a model that has been successful elsewhere in the world to the needs and opportunities of the Spanish university market.

The programme has been designed so as to take advantage of existing resources, requiring a minimum intake of new teaching staff and no additional spending on facilities, and creating important synergies with existing degrees. At the current time of limited resources, this is a welcome and feasible initiative.

In terms of its structure, the new programme encourages student mobility among the four universities during the first three years, and offers the possibility to spend the third year at a foreign university. Students will be able to do so through mobility programmes, such Séneca and Erasmus, as well as through international exchange agreements to be signed with leading universities, such as Louvain University, Humboldt University in Berlin or Trento University.

The first year will be taught at UPF. The second year will be spent in Madrid, one term at UC3M and another at UAM. The third year, which will offer specialisation pathways and a course in Research Methodologies in Social Sciences, will encourage international or A-4U mobility. During their fourth year, students will undertake their final project at one of A-4U universities, depending on their chosen specialisation, and go on an optional work placement at private businesses or public organisations.

Daniel Peña pointed out flexibility as a defining characteristic of the new degree: “It aims to attract the best students who can decide in which area they would like to specialise, and who can choose what resources to use, available to them at four universities”.

A 240 ECTS credit syllabus will consist of basic training courses, compulsory subjects, case study seminars, specialisation pathways, work placements, international mobility and a bachelor’s dissertation. Accepted students will register at one of the four universities and a minimum cut-off mark needed for entry will depend on the university of registration and current demand.

Courses will be taught in Catalan, Spanish and English (depending on the subject) and will cover general knowledge areas during the first two years. In their third and fourth year students will specialise in a chosen pathway. Daniel Peña pointed out positive aspects of the multilingual programme: “We see it as added value, as an enriching experience and an opportunity to get to know new cultures and mindsets”.

Scholarships and career opportunities

Tuition fees, similar to those on existing programmes in social sciences and humanities, will range from 1.200 to 1.600 Euros per year. Additional mobility implies an extra cost for students and their families, so a system of privately-funded scholarships will be in place to enable students to take part in the mobility and include talented students from less-privileged backgrounds. According to Daniel Peña, these resources and provision of equal opportunities “will be guaranteed”.

Benefitting from an inter-disciplinary perspective on social sciences, students will be equipped with a range of analytical tools to understand an increasingly globalised, complex, and inter-connected world. As for their careers, future graduates will be qualified for jobs in the public and private sectors, including multinational companies, in areas such as politics, journalism, industry, education, business management, consulting and public relations, diplomatic services, autonomous and local governments, and international organisations, among others. British current prime-minister David Cameron, late Pakistani prime-minister Benazir Bhutto, and a prominent philosopher Iaiah Berlin, are some of those who graduated from similar programmes, offered now by about 50 leading universities in the world.