The Quality of A4U Research Stands Out Internationally

The Alianza 4 Universidades recently published a report on research activities conducted at its member universities, entitled “INFORME 2020 DE LA ACTIVIDAD CIENTÍFICA DE LAS UNIVERSIDADES DE LA ALIANZA 4 UNIVERSIDADES (2009-2018)”. The report was drawn up by the Research Institute for Higher Education and Science (INAECU) and highlights the scientific and technological quality of A4U, both at domestic and international levels.

The report points to competitiveness and scientific production as the strong point of the A4U member universities, given that they have obtained a total of 17.37% of funding for European projects under the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020, within the Spanish university system, and have an average of 1.58 projects for every 100 lecturers, while the average at national level is 0.55 projects for every 100 lecturers. Of the total scientific production in Spain analysed by the WoS database for the period 2009-2018, 13.6% is produced by one of the four universities of the A4U group. The A4U presents a high level of productivity (2.11 articles per lecturer) and is 2.62 times more productive than the average reached among other Spanish universities (0.81 articles per lecturer).

The data also shows that A4U takes part in a large number of international collaborations. Member universities represent 15.67% of all international collaborations conducted by Spanish universities.

With regard to the quality and impact of scientific publications, the A4U presents a greater percentage of documents in the first quartile (55.75%) than other universities in Spain (52.92%). During the period analysed, the A4U published 11.95% of its production in TOP3 journals, whereas other universities published 9.95% of their production. In absolute impact (total number of citations), the A4U received 16.4% of all citations, while the related impact of A4U throughout the period analysed was 21.27 citations per document, above the average reached by all universities in Spain, which was 17.62 citations per document.

With regard to technological production, the study confirms that the patents issued to A4U member universities represent 6.48% of all patents issued within the Spanish university system.

The analysis also includes a comparative study of the A4U with other international university systems. On the one hand, it compares it to the four universities belonging to the Yerun association and its positioning in the latest ARWU ranking (Brunel University London, University of Antwerp, Dauphine Université Paris and Tor Vergata University of Rome). On the other hand, it compares it to the five top British universities in terms of number of research and teaching staff members: University College London; Oxford University; Cambridge University; Imperial College of London; and University of Manchester. These five institutions are among the top 40 of the ARWU ranking.

The analysis shows that the research quality of the A4U institutions maintains a level of excellence at international scale, as well. Its production in journals included in the Web of Science (WoS) database for the 2014-2018 period is higher than each of the universities belonging to the Yerun association, as well as the sum of production of all member universities. At the same time, the A4U occupies fifth position in production in WoS when compared to the British universities analysed.

Annual productivity per research and teaching staff member during the 2014-2018 period places the A4U in third position with regard to the British universities analysed, and in second place versus the Yerun universities selected for analysis. In the 2014-2018 period, the citations per document place A4U in second position when compared to the Yerun universities included in the evaluation, and in fifth position regarding British universities. The A4U presents the second highest percentual value in Highly Cited Papers when compared to the Yerun universities, and fifth highest regarding British universities. Lastly, the report points out A4U’s second position in percentage of open access publications, in comparison to the Yerun universities selected for analysis.

The research activity was evaluated using a set of indicators on economic resources, competitiveness, excellence, scientific and technological production, visibility in international rankings, and research training, which were based on the information obtained by the IUNE Observatory; the Spanish Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI); the Web of Science (WoS); the ARWU, QS and THE rankings; the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (OEPM); the European Patent Office (EPO); the Ministry for Universities; and the Spanish National Statistics Institute (INE).

The A4U to offer a new science degree in 2020/21

The Alianza 4 Universidades presents a novel feature for the 2020/21 academic year: the new Bachelor’s Degree in Sciences, with lectures taking place in both Barcelona and Madrid. Classes in Madrid will be offered by the UAM and the UC3M, while classes in Barcelona will be offered by the UAB.

The new bachelor’s degree combines contents in experimental sciences, mathematics and engineering to train multidisciplinary professionals prepared to work in transversal sectors. Students will design their own syllabus thanks to a wide array of optional credits and the help of a guidance counsellor. Students can enrol in a general study plan, or they can choose to take one of the three specialisations offered: biosciences, science and technology, or Earth science and the environment.

These new times require open minds: the science of the 21st century seeks answers to complex problems through the joint forces of specialists from a diversity of fields, capable of working in different areas of knowledge. That is why the A4U has devised this original academic programme which provides interdisciplinary training with a markedly social and ethical perspective. Graduates will be prepared to work in research centres and universities, in R&D&i laboratories and firms, in scientific and technical services, in the publishing and scientific communication sector, and in many more professional areas.

More information: Bachelor’s Degree in Sciences

A4U takes part in exchange of good practice in Erasmus+ ICM

During 6-8 November 2019, Dr Olga Belova, International Project Manager at A4U, participated in “Exchange of good practice in Erasmus+ ICM projects” seminar, which took place in Larnaca, Cyprus.

A4U was one of three Spanish institutions selected for the participation in the seminar, along with other 55 institutions from 19 European countries.

Dr Olga Belova was invited to give a presentation on good practices in managing Erasmus+ ICM projects, which was well received by the public and led to a lively discussion. It helped give A4U and its good work visibility among European universities and national agencies.

Other topics covered during the seminar included: university internationalization strategies via Erasmus+ ICM, key success factors and challenges, preparation of a successful funding application, and recommendations for the future Erasmus+ programme.

The seminar provided an excellent opportunity to exchange experience with other European universities, learn about different work methods, and expand the network of contacts, making it a very useful experience overall.  The materials obtained at the seminar have been shared with the International Offices of the four A4U universities, broadening in this way the outreach of the seminar.

A4U has been taking part in Erasmus+ ICM since the programme began in 2015. The successful implementation of awarded mobility projects has contributed to the internationalization of the 4 universities members of the Alliance and of nearly 30 partner universities in Russia, South Africa, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia and Vietnam.


Institutional mission to Namibia and Botswana

Institutional Mission to Namibia and Botswana

The 4 Universities Alliance (A-4U) has carried out an institutional mission to Namibia and Botswana from the 30th of September to the 8th of October.

Within the strategic framwork for internationalization of the 4 universities which constitute the consortium, the A-4U has developed the institutional mission to Namibia and Botswana in order to promote bilateral collaboration agreements between Namibian or Botswanan universities and each of the A-4U universities in the areas of research, teaching and technology transfer. The A-4U delegation was made up of the Vice-rectors of International Relations of each of the 4 universities and the International Relations Coordinator of the 4-AU.

During the 9 days of the mission, which was carried out in the cities of Windhoek, Gaborone and Palapye, the delegates held several meetings in the main Namibian and Botswanan universities to get to know and strengthen the relationship with the main High Education agents in both countries. The visited universities are: University of Namibia (UNAM) and Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Namibia, and Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN), Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), University of Botswana (BU), and Botswana Accountancy College (BAC) in Botswana.

The A-4U delegation also took the opportunity to hold a meeting with the Spanish Embassy in Windhoek, Namibia, and contacted the Spanish Honorary Vice-Consul in Maun, Botswana.

























Graduation of the Second Promotion of Philosophy, Politics and Economics

The graduation of the second promotion of the Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics took place on 30 June at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. The degree has been offered through the Alliance 4 Universities since 2013.

In the event, General Director of the news agency Servimedia José Manuel González Huesa gave a conference entitled “La comunicación, una cuestión de responsabilidad” [Communication, A Question of Responsibility]. The conference was followed by the traditional handing of diplomas and a speech by the students’ representative. The graduates of this second promotion also offered a musical performance and commemorative video made by them. The event ended with a few words from the current President of the A4U and Rector of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona Margarita Arboix.

These types of studies have an extensive and prestigious academic tradition in English-speaking countries. Students acquire solid training in political science and economics, with an important foundation in critical and moral analysis skills proper of the humanities. The uniqueness of this degree is student mobility, given that students have the chance to study in both Barcelona and Madrid, as well as spend a semester or more abroad.

Scientific publications from Spanish universities have increased more than 70 per cent

The number of scientific publications carried out by research staff from Spanish universities has increased by more than 70 per cent in the last decade, according to the results of the last annual report made by IUNE on University R+D+I, an observatory by the 4U partnership, (universities Autónoma de Barcelona, Autónoma de Madrid, Carlos III de Madrid and Pompeu Fabra).

This new edition of the report by the IUNE Observatory analyses the research and innovative activity of the Spanish University System (abbreviation in Spanish: SUE) by means of a set of indicators with data from 79 Spanish public and private universities from 2007 to 2016. Over this period, the number of scientific publications in the Web of Science (WoS) has gone up from 31,690 to 54,764 documents. That is to say, it has increased by 72.81%.

This increase in the number of scientific publications (which is one of the indicators for the evaluation of the research activity has come about despite there being no significant increase in the University teaching staff, which has gone from 59,925 in 2007 to 64,296 in 2016 in Spain.

Research paper rankings per geographical and subjects areas

Per autonomous regions, Catalonia has contributed 25.85% of the total publications of the SUE, followed by the Community of Madrid (with 19.97%), Andalusia (15.84%) and Valencia (12.63%). Andalusia is the region that has shown the largest increase in terms of publications in WoS during the analysed period.

Per subject area, Experimental Sciences are the ones that publish the most in WoS, with 37.4% of the total. Medicine and Pharmacology take second place with 27.36%, followed by Architecture, Engineering and Computer Science, with 25.39%. The subject areas with less publications in WoS are Social Sciences, with 10.67 %, and Arts and Humanities, with 5.96%. However, if the data on its development is taken into account, these areas are in fact the ones which have grown the most over the analysed period: 133.38% and 185.03% respectively.

The percentage of high-visibility documents (Journal publications situated in the first JCR quartile) has increased, going from 48.07% of documents in 2007 to 52.88% in 2016.

The international collaboration of Spanish universities has also increased during this decade, going from 37.18% of publications in 2007 to 50.23% in 2016. That is to say, researchers from other countries have participated in half of the scientific publications of Spanish universities. On the other hand, the opposite is true for national collaborations, which have decreased from 28.96% to 22.70% during this period.

Innovation and university competitiveness

With regards to innovative activity, the number of SUE patents granted by the Spanish Office of Patents and Brands (abbreviation in Spanish: OEPM) also has experienced an increase, it has gone from 256 in 2007 to 524 in 2016, which shows an increase of 104.69%. The 10 universities with the highest number of patents represent 57.26% of all university patents.

The analysis of competitiveness shows a reverse trend in national and European competitive projects. Whilst the former decreased by 12.65% (they’ve gone from 2300 in 2007 and to 2009 in 2016), on the contrary the European projects have increased by 53.01%, with 249 projects in 2007 compared to 381 in 2016).

Further  information:

The universities of the A-4U support the Call on the European Union to strengthen research in Social Sciences and Humanities

A temporary alliance of universities in countries called ‘leading in Social Sciences and Humanities’ by the European Commission, found that there is a strong consensus amongst the European institutions about the need to strengthen SSH research and improve its integration in Framework Programme 9. To help the European Commission to define the actions needed to implement this vision, the authors jointly make five recommendations:

1. The creation of an SSH Platform and strengthening of multidisciplinary collaboration
2. Encouraging researchers to think about how to generate academic and societal impact when drafting proposals
3. Recognizing that all disciplines crucially contribute to the goals of an inclusive and prosperous Europe
4. Investing in high-quality SSH research & innovation opportunities
5. Adding a target budget of 10% to the existing Key Performance Indicators for Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH).

The position paper with the five recommendations is available for download. Other organisations are encouraged to show their support to this call on the EU until 28 February 2018. After this date the final document will be sent to representatives of the European Institutions so that they consider it in the design of the EU’s IX Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP9).

The rector’s office hosts the general meeting of the Alliance 4 Universities, reviewing the various projects under way

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 ArboixJuan 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.

The first class of the bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics graduates

The 26 graduates of the class of 2017 on the bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, the first of this interuniversity qualification between Pompeu Fabra, the Autonomous and Carlos III of Madrid, came on stage to collect their diploma commemorating their graduation.

The academic graduation ceremony of the bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, promoted by the Alliance 4 Universities and with the collaboration of Obra Social La Caixa, took place on Saturday, 1 July at noon, in the auditorium of Cosmocaixa in Barcelona, chaired by Lluís Caelles, journalist and adjunct lecturer with the Department of Communication at UPF.

Sitting at the head table were Jaume CasalsRafael GaresseMargarida Arboix and Juan Romo, rectors of Pompeu Fabra University, the Autonomous University of Madrid, the Autonomous University of Barcelona, and Carlos III of Madrid, respectively, accompanied by Àngel Font, corporate director of the Research and Strategy area of the La Caixa Foundation.

A welcome speech was given by Àngel Font and a commemorative audiovisual projection of the class was screened, showing the experiences and feelings of several of those involved, thus opening the ceremony, which was attended by relatives of the graduates and other people associated with the degree.

Afterwards, Jaume Casals, rector of Pompeu Fabra University, gave the reading of the text “A reflection on the improbable in our societies”, by Daniel Innerarity, full professor of Social and Political Philosophy, Ikerbasque researcher at the University of the Basque Country and director of the Institute of Democratic Governance. Due to health problems, professor Innerarity was unable to attend the ceremony and so it was finally read by Josep Joan Moreso, full professor of Philosophy of Law and former UPF rector, under the title “A world of meanings”.

After the performance of the negro spiritual I’m Gonna Sing ‘til the Spirit Moves in my Heart by the UPF choir came the highlight of the event, when the graduates went up on stage to collect their commemorative diplomas from the authorities.

Danny Smith Garrido, on behalf of the class of 2017 of the bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, addressed a few words to those present at the ceremony, which concluded with a speech by the rector, Jaume Casals, and the performance of the traditional university anthem Gaudeamus igitur, by the University choir.

The bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economicswas launched the 2013-2014 academic year with the aim of training professionals who may practise in public and private institutions, with solid training in political science and economics and with a strong background in critical and moral analysis that can be provided by the humanities, essentially philosophy.

Lasting a minimum of four years, the bachelor’s degree, which since its inception has had one of the highest entrance marks of the University, involves substantial mobility by its students, who take their studies between Barcelona and Madrid, the home of the four centres that make up the A4U. Stages abroad are also promoted.

> Commemorative video of the graduation ceremony posted on UPF YouTube

More scientific productivity and visibility despite scarcity of resources

Spanish universities have increased their scientific productivity, visibility and the number of patents granted despite the loss of human and material resources in recent years. These are some of the conclusions of the new annual report on university R&D&I by the IUNE (Spanish acronym for Research Activity at Spanish Universities), an observatory of the Alianza 4U (the 4U Alliance)—the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

This new edition of the report analyzes the research activity of the Spanish University System (initialed SUE in Spanish) over the last decade. In doing so, it considers a large set of indicators with data on 79 public and private Spanish universities from the years 2006 to 2015.

Economic and Research Data

According to the conclusions of the report, the slight increase in internal spending per researcher in Spain in 2015 does not equal the figures from 2008. Moreover, revenue generated by research (R&D) diminished by 19% from 2008 to 2014, with sharp declines of nearly 67% at some universities. Revenue earned by non-financial operations of the universities, according to the CRUE, has decreased since 2008 by an average of 14.02%, and by more than 18% at some universities.

The number of researchers in the Spanish science system is also in decline, having fallen 9.1% between 2010 and 2015, with a slight improvement in the last year analyzed. The number of professors in the SUE has slightly increased (8.65%), with an average accumulative growth of 0.93%.

Productivity and Collaboration on R&D&i

The productivity of professors almost doubled during this period. On the Web of Science (WoS), a platform that compiles references of the main scientific journals, the average number of publications per professor per year went from 0.49 in 2006 to 0.83 in 2015. By autonomous regions, Catalonia leads as the most productive, responsible for 25.68%, followed by Madrid (with 19.91%) and Andalusia (with 15.63%).

On breaking down production by subject areas, the data show that the experimental sciences continue to be the most represented (with some 36 publications), although they are down compared with 2006 (42%). Noteworthy are the improvements of the social sciences (10.8% at the end of the period compared with 7% at the beginning) and the arts and the humanities (5.89% compared with 3.51%).

With regard to scientific collaboration, the report highlights the increase in international collaboration, which reached 48.11% in 2015, up from 36.8% in 2006. In this area, the United States continues to be the country that collaborates the most, followed by the United Kingdom and Germany.

Impact of Research

As for the impact of the research, in terms of visibility, the report highlights the increase of publications in journals from the first quartile (top 25% of journals with the highest international impact), which went from 49.09% to 53%. Also to note is the increase in the number of patents granted, which increased by 125.36% over the period.

The analysis of competitiveness notes a decline in the number of projects presented in national plans with respect to international plans, data indicative of the search for opportunities in the European sphere (Framework Programme Horizon 2020).

With regard to talent attraction, there was an increase in Juan de la Cierva and Ramón y Cajal postdoctoral contracts as of 2013. FPU pre-doctoral contracts declined considerably in 2008, with a recovery in 2015. The number of theses increased by nearly 113%.

Complete report:

Further information: