The university we want to respond to the demands of society


For several years now, there have been profound social, economic and cultural changes that have affected the entire university system, both in its dimension as the main producer of science, technology and culture, as well as in its educational vocation and professional training. The pandemic and the set of measures of all kinds and nature devised and put into practice to confront it have simply acted as an accelerator of a process that was already underway.

The University —that is, the idea of ​​an institution devoted to the creation and transfer of knowledge— finds itself before a special conjuncture in which its own subsistence is at stake.

In this sense, it is a priority to insist and focus on what represents our reason for being: the students of the Spanish university. The needs that we have had to face in universities have varied notably in the last decade and the possibilities that new technologies incorporate into our academic work have generated previously unknown and in some cases even unexpected demands.

From this perspective, we must adapt the university system to the educational needs of students, and not carry out a reverse process. Teaching innovation plays a decisive role in this process; but also the values ​​of equality, inclusion and participation.

Homogenization, utopian on many occasions and unfeasible in the current system, is no longer an option. The University must be an inclusive institution, which integrates diversity and achieves equal opportunities among all its members and offers a teaching model that guarantees the satisfaction of the higher education needs of the complex society characteristic of the 21st century.

This requires the commitment, collaboration, cooperation and conviction of all the professionals that make up the universities. The University has the responsibility of being the motor and driving force of culture and knowledge, but it is also an instrument for the transmission of values ​​such as tolerance, respect, diversity and integration.

All this requires a joint work of all organizations and institutions, since without the collaboration of all the agents involved it is not possible to guarantee a comprehensive training of our students.

Support for internationalization

On the other hand, it is especially necessary to support internationalization and promote the national and international mobility of our students. Critical citizenship requires tools to help you understand and interpret the world properly. The cultural richness that the experience of internationalization and mobility brings to the student body –and to the teaching staff, of course–, within and outside our borders, encourages active participation in the university environment and greater involvement with the comprehensive training of the people who we make up the universities.

The management of Spanish universities has to contemplate a scenario in which many of the postulates established for decades are no longer valid, and this is also valid, and very especially, regarding student participation and representation, each day closer to the bodies government and more committed to dialogue and agreement. Like the other representative university instances, also the one that our students star in the field of autonomy needs daily reinforcement – it would seem that permanent legitimation – provided by the increasing presence among the student body and its recognized capacity for dialogue.

From another point of view, it is necessary that all the agents concerned in Higher Education form part of the necessary change in the educational framework and the involvement of each of the organizations from their field is crucial to promote a change in the model that takes into account the aforementioned aspects. previously. Progress is only possible thanks to the union of all levels and organizations, either from the educational field in the strict sense, or, more broadly, from the business, political or institutional fields.

It is what defends the University 2030 model promoted by CRUE Spanish Universities and that integrates internationalization, inclusion, multidisciplinary and transversal training, academic orientation and student participation at the service of a teaching reform that considers the demand for each of these factors in Spanish universities .

Our universities must be prepared to train people who not only acquire technical-scientific knowledge, but also seek a broad competence development that qualifies them professionally for a highly competitive and demanding labor market and trains them in a comprehensive way to function as informed and responsible citizens. in a world in permanent transformation.

Author Bio: Jose Luján Alcaraz is Rector and Professor of the Department of Labor and Social Security Law at the University of Murcia