On 5 February 2018, the rectoral building of Pompeu Fabra University hosted the board of directors and the general meeting of the Alliance 4 Universities (A4U), a strategic association made up of four of the main public universities in Spain: Pompeu Fabra, the Autonomous of Barcelona (UAB), Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M) and the Autonomous of Madrid (UAM).
The meeting was chaired by vice-rector Pelegrí Viader, on behalf of Jaume Casals, UPF rector and chairman of the A4U. Also in attendance were Margarita Arboix, Juan Romo and Rafael Garesse, rectors of UAB, UC3M and UAM, respectively, and also vice-chairs of the Alliance. Enric Vallduví, vice rector for research projects at UPF, acted as general secretary, and Jaume Badia, UPF manager, as treasurer.
The agenda, which involved the accountability of 2017 and the approval of the budget for 2018, included the status of the various projects in which the A4U is currently working, related to research, international relations and the IUNE Observatory, which aims to contribute to the knowledge and analysis of the research and technology carried out in the Spanish university system.
Another field that has been dealt with is the bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, organized jointly by the universities of the Alliance whose 2018 graduation ceremony, corresponding to the second class, will be held at the Autonomous University of Madrid (last year it took place at the Cosmocaixa, organized by UPF).
The IUNE Observatory and OPERA, two key elements of the A4U
The IUNE Observatory is the result of the work by a group of researchers of the A4U, with the collaboration of the ministries of Science & Innovation and Education. It offers detailed information on the scientific activities of all public and private universities of the Spanish University System (SUE) and allows making comparisons between them.
As a novelty this year, among the various dimensions of scientific activity (seven in all, among which 44 indicators are distributed) the dimension of Funding has been added, which includes public and private sources of funding, such as deposits settled by non-financial operations and the income generated by research.
Through the IUNE, several figures have been extracted related with the production and the impact of the A4U between 2007 and 2016. So, taking into account that the permanent teaching and research staff of the A4U accounts for 6.4% of the SUE, the productivity of the Alliance is 2.5 times higher than the average for the SUE, and contributes 17.4% of the total production of the system, in addition to representing 21% of the absolute impact.
In addition, and also during the 2007-2016 period, 19% of the production of the SUE in international collaboration was signed by one of the universities of the A4U, and 19.7% of documents of the SUE located in Q1 (quality journals pertaining to the first quartile) are signed by A4U universities. As for articles published by the Alliance during this period, 48% are written in international collaboration, and almost 56% are found in Q1. These percentages, in respect of the average for the SUE, fall to 43.2 and 50.7%, respectively.
On an international scale, the results of the A4U have been compared with the German system (Excellence Initiative). For example, concerning absolute impact, the total number of citations is ostensibly higher in the German system, but if the size of the universities is taken into consideration, in relative impact (citations per document for 2007-2016), the figures are quite close to each other: 19.22 for Germany’s Excellence Initiative and 15.69 for the A4U.
Another notable area dealt with during the meeting was the presentation of the activities carried out in 2017 by OPERA (Office for the Promotion of European Research Activities), the A4U’s office in Brussels for the promotion of the research by the teaching and research staff of the Alliance’s four universities. Noteworthy are the support for the increase and improvement of the participation by the A4U in the European Horizon 2020 programme, the reinforcement of collaborations and contacts in Brussels, the development of individual OPERA plans for each university, and the organization of institutional visits, all of which activities are intended to be pursued in greater depth and expanded on this 2018.