A-4U rectors debate the future of universities in Spain

The rectors of A-4U universities (Ana Ripoll from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Jose M. Sanz from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Daniel Peña from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, and Josep Joan Moreso from Universitat Pompeu Fabra) took part in the debate on the future of the universities in Spain, an event moderated by journalist Iñaki Gabilondo.

The debate was structured in four blocks where each rector presented their view of the projects and challenges facing universities in the future in terms of teaching, research and internationalisation. According to Iñaki Gabilondo, “these four universities are all recognised for being a Campus of International Excellence and are strongly commited to research and a clear European and international focus”.

Ana Ripoll, President of A-4U, spoke of the alliance, which was founded in 2008, as “a platform, which improves the international profile fo each university and of the alliance per se, with consolidated projects and future objectives borne from an entrepreneurial and innovative academic and scientific environment”. According to Ana Ripoll, now the society “demans more from universities, but since each university is different, each should work on their strengths and, in this sense, A-4U knows where it wants to go”.

Jose M. Sanz focused on research, “If we add up publication impact and funding for European projects, our four universities are on a similar level with the best universities in Europe. Our research is competitive and this has led to the creation of science parks with the aim of offering collaboration areas, which can offer local, national and international benefits”.

Daniel Peña, who spoke on academic issues, stated that “knowledge is the key to sicual development and the most important value a country can possess. In Spain, this value is for the most part generated at uinversities”. Daniel Peña added, however, that A-4U must not be complacent: “we have the inescapable obligation of meeting the challenges of a reconversion process in order to keep up with the pace of global developments”.

In the field of internationalisation, Josep Joan Moreso stressed the fact that “if the four universities represented here today intend to make substantial progress, we must open our doors to the best professors in the world. Our teaching staff must include academics from abroad and there must be an increase in the number of international students in our postgraduate programmes”. He went on to defend the need to have “at least half of our students spend one semester at a university abroad”.

The debate is part of the series of round tables, organised under the auspices of A-4U and funded by CaixaForum. The second round table will take place on March 5, 2012 and will see the four rectors continue to discuss the future of the universities in Spain.