Una universidad para el futuro

A university for the future

The Internet already allows access to a Harvard course from the most remote town on the planet. And that changes everything. The digital revolution will completely transform a university system that now has problems. The faculties will welcome students of different ages and nationalities while virtual education will gain ground. The competition will be global. And it will be fierce. 2 0

Students of the Faculty of Communication of the URL working in a classroom equipped with computers

Google parents, Larry Page and Serguei Brin, were trained within the walls of the prestigious Stanford University. The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, and the creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, frequented the legendary campus of Harvard. Paradoxically, the digital revolution that has changed our society so much has had a relative impact on the institutions where it was created. In essence, the teaching system is not far from that practiced by Socrates 2,500 years ago: a teacher who imparts his knowledge or talks with a group of students. But the emergence of MOOCs (mass and free online courses), the proliferation of masters and postgraduate degrees, the growing mobility of students, the pressure of emerging countries, financing in a context of crisis and globalization are altering the schemes . There is no going back. The academic dinosaur is in full mutation.

What will the university of the future be like? Will the virtual model be imposed in front of face-to-face classes? Will it be democratized or will it be increasingly elitist and superspecialized? Is the public system economically sustainable? What will be the influence of the market? Will the traditional relationship between teaching and research be maintained? How will demographic changes affect? In the academic universe there is confluence in the need to rethink higher education, but the answers to these questions are still far from generating consensus.

The phenomenon that has precipitated the debate sounds like an ancient horn, but it also refers to the sound of an alarm, the signal that alerts of the arrival of a seismic movement in all the campuses. MOOCs have spread across the network like a honeysuckle. They exist on almost everything; from techniques for public speaking to quantum physics, from HTML5 programming to the study of the great enigmas of the universe.

“Thousands of people attend one or two MOOCs per year, many of them offered by leading university centers in the world, so it would be wrong to despise them. They do not replace a graduation, but neither do they claim it. Instead, they are a practical way for universities to offer opportunities for global learning throughout life, “says Dr. Hellen Carasso, a specialist in higher education at the University of Oxford, where the elites of the United Kingdom are formed. part of the foreigner.

MOOCs, which allow you to obtain a prestigious stamp from home, although without qualification, seduce millions of people

The temptation to obtain a degree that carries the prestigious seal of Oxford, Yale or Harvard from the home computer and in a few weeks or months has seduced millions of people. It is estimated that half of those who manage to finish the first week finish the course, but that does not seem to devalue the invention. There they are Coursera, platform that agglutinates the offer of courses on line of 800 universities of all the world, with more than seven million users; edX, promoted by Google, with 2.7 million users; Alison, with three million, or Udacity, with 1.6 million. Some astronomical figures to be an offer that took off in 2012.

In Spain the phenomenon has ignited with an enthusiasm worthy of a miraculous anti-crisis potion. It came hand in hand with the Polytechnic University of Madrid and already has platforms such as MiríadaX, which gathers courses from around thirty institutions and 800,000 users, or UniMooc, with 40,000, aimed at entrepreneurs. The European Commission figures in 253 MOOC programs in Spain, as many as in the United Kingdom and Germany combined. France, more skeptical, offers 88.

“It’s an interesting but passing phenomenon. The majority of MOOCs consist of digitizing the contents and putting them online, but the level of accompaniment is low. They have a great external impact, but as an educational model they are not an alternative, “says Carles Sigalés, vice chancellor of teaching and learning at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), a pioneer of online teaching in Spain.

In his blog, the rector of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, José Carrillo Menéndez, defends the so-called open access movement, considering that citizens “finance research with their taxes”, so “it is not legitimate” that they have to pay to know the results.

The MOOC and other online courses come as a glove to the so-called millennial generation, which needs to swell its curriculum to be in a position to compete in the squalid labor market. But there are other factors that explain the formidable demand. “The great change is that people are formed throughout their lives,” says Sigalés, to which adds a new market: “The training deficit of emerging countries – known as the Brics – also among adults” . In fact, the expansion of the UOC, he says, is partly due to the interest it raises in many Spanish-speaking countries.

In the absence of work, young people – and their families – invest in education, which has favored the emergence of masters and postgraduates. The centers have found in this offer the vein to try to compensate for a clamorous lack of resources, the other great workhorse in which two systems are opposed: the private and the public, the Anglo-Saxon and that of countries such as Spain, France or Italy.

In the United States, you have to be a good family or have to go into debt to study at a leading university. The president himself, Barack Obama, a law student at Harvard, has just returned his loan just eight years ago. They also get into debt – although under special conditions that only force them to repay the loan when they access a moderately paid job – the students of the United Kingdom, where, despite being public, the university has a high cost. Three years ago, to face the crisis, the Government of David Cameron took the unpopular decision to triple the rates. While in Spain a tuition costs 1,105 euros, on the other side of the Channel it reaches 11,200. And the price shoots up even more for citizens who do not belong to the European Union.

Dr. Carasso has participated in a study entitled Higher rates, higher expectations? which concludes that the increase in enrollment has not only discouraged the applicants but has made them “more responsible and selective”. “They take more into account the employment factor,” says the study, which notes another positive effect: the reduction of dropout levels. In Spain, with 1.4 million university students, the percentage of first-year drop-outs reaches 19% and among the scholarship students, presumably the most motivated, stands at 13.5%, according to official data.

“There will be a role for public universities in the future, but, in most countries, their income will not come from the government. There will be changes in the way of sharing costs between students and the State in enrollment rates. At the same time, new models of private universities and course providers will come into play, often focused on competing to attract students with degrees that can offer, at a lower cost, good job prospects, “Carasso warns.

Is low cost university coming? This idea appears in the study of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Higher Education on the 2030 horizon . Of the four scenarios that it draws, three pose a “more marked hierarchy among establishments”. That is, the difference between the elite centers will increase, which “will attract more funding, offer better working conditions and prestige and establish alliances with universities of the same rank”, and the rest. The research will be reserved for the first centers, while the second ones should be content with the transmission of knowledge. The study also considers a “liberalization of fees” and a “fierce” competition among “superstars” universities, which will open branches abroad under “franchises” and outsource part of their research to countries such as India or Thailand.

“New models of private universities and course providers will come into play, often focused on competing to attract students with degrees that can offer, at a lower cost, good job prospects,” predicts Hellen Carasso, of the University from Oxford

It is not clear how Ryanair will adopt higher education – prefabricated buildings where it will be paid even to take a virtual seat or campus? – but the UOC is on guard. “Online education does not mean low cost,” says Sigalés. In any case, even in the presence centers, the classrooms will cease to be the main scenario for the transmission of knowledge. The magisterial lessons in an amphitheater before fifty students will go down in history.

“The information that can be acquired through digital channels will reach students through this channel,” says Andreu Ibarz, general director of Blanquerna-Universitat Ramon Llull (URL), the largest private center in Spain. In his opinion, face-to-face classes only make sense in “small groups with practical contents”. And if you can use cutting edge technology, like the giant interactive tablet that has launched this course the Health Sciences faculty of the URL to teach anatomy, the better. The professor stops practicing as an oracle to become a guide, a function he often exercises through the internet.

“One of the biggest challenges is the mobility of teachers and students. It means that universities compete with others around the world to attract the best. It is also an opportunity, opportunities to collaborate in research with international partners are opened “, analyzes Carasso. Competition, internationalization and research are at the heart of a debate in which two models collide again: the Anglo-Saxon, which works with criteria of social and economic profitability by promoting private investment, and that of Latin countries, where the massive access to a university “historically allergic to the business world”, in the words of Dr. Ibarz.

The contempt for what the French pejoratively call “the Coca-Cola University” -in reference to the ability to influence the large corporations that finance university projects- allows maintaining academic purity, but is not very useful when it comes to paying for increasingly expensive research in times of lean times. “While Spain has opted to compensate for the cuts by increasing the number of students and proposing more graduate and master courses, the United States has opted to double investment in research to produce more patents that generate benefits later,” exemplifies Xavier Caseras, PhD in Psychology at the University of Cardiff, one of the leading establishments in Great Britain in clinical psychology and biomedicine.

“One of the problems of the public university in Spain is that it wants to reach everything. What quality can you offer when you have 87,000 students, like the Complutense? “, Says Ibarz, whose establishment -the URL- encompasses a constellation of centers, including the Esade business school, and which is committed to” excellence “and “Specialization” to be able to compete with European universities. The same philosophy follows the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (this, public), whose studies in economics and biomedicine enjoy worldwide prestige.

The thesis of excess supply is contradicted with numbers by the rector of the Complutense: “In the United States there are 309 million inhabitants and 3,277 universities, that is, one university for every 94,000 inhabitants; in the United Kingdom there are 61 million inhabitants and 241 universities, one for every 253,000 inhabitants. In Spain we are 47 million and we have 79 universities, that is, one for every 582,000 inhabitants. Where is the oversize? “

“The future of higher education involves carrying out useful research, which will allow society to return the investment it has made. In Spain, this culture is still pending, “says Jordi Llabrés, vice-rector for innovation and transfer at the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB).

Jordi Llabrés, vice-chancellor of the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB), the first in Spain to have a vice-rector for innovation, defends a hybrid model. “The future is to conduct a useful investigation, to return to society the investment it has made. In Spain, this culture is pending, “says Llabrés, who leads a cooperation program with companies.

His vision is related to Carasso’s thesis: “The university will increasingly be the home of blue skies (an expression that defines basic research, which has no apparent practical objective) and will have the potential to commercialize its findings, through patents and the creation of spin-outs (companies that allow universities to market the results of their research). Institutions should go out and seek income in philanthropic funds, in line with the North American model. “

For Caseras, “the university of the future can not be a school for big children, but a place where knowledge is made and transmitted”. In his opinion, the Anglo-Saxon approach is more “rational”. “In Great Britain, the Government evaluates research centers according to what they contribute to society and renews funding based on results,” explains the doctor in Psychology, who left the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona to devote himself to the investigation. In his apartment in Cardiff there are half a dozen Spaniards. “Investing in training some students so that later those who excel to go abroad is a fiasco,” he laments.

In the field of internationalization, the Anglo-Saxon university has the best weapon: English, the frank language of the global world. In Spain more and more courses are conducted in the language of Shakespeare, but there is still a way to go.

The obsession to appear at the top of the rankings is also in full review. “Each university has its own mission and priorities. The winners make a note on the basis of a quality model, ignoring other legitimate definitions of quality “, questions Carasso. “Harvard holds the record for Nobel prizes, but in the future other parameters will be taken into account, such as the number of students who find work”, corroborates Ibarz.

Everything indicates that the universities that will survive the restructuring process will welcome students of different ages and nationalities living in an increasingly virtual space. Specialization and connection with social demand will be key to continue in the race. The mutation can be spectacular, but some values ​​will remain valid. Nelson Mandela said: “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Brevas and figs: the curious, tasty and generous history of the species bíferas

Image result for fig Everyone knows what the fig trees are ( Ficus carica ) and that the figs are the most traditional fruits (fig-fig, the thing can not be clearer). However, there are many doubts about the brevas … are they the same? Among those who know conclusively that not some believe that the figs come from “some” figs and the “other” figs … and in fact it does not have to be that way.

Let’s start from the basis that figs and figs are different things although visually they resemble a lot; and that at the same time both (figs and figs) are the “false” fruit of the same species , even of the same “individual”, biologically speaking.

As you will know the most posts, the brevas are the “false” fruit of those fig trees called bifurcations , that is, with two “harvests” throughout the annual cycle: on the one hand the end of June or the beginning of July, characterized for the presence of brevas; and on the other the August or September in which, now, are the figs the protagonists … the same tree, two “fruits”? You are right. More or less

Actually the brevas are those “fruits” of the previous season (figs in power) that have not reached maturity in August-September, remain in a kind of dormant state until the first heats of the following season … So, in the months of June or July, traditionally around the San Juan festival (like the pears that pay tribute to this festivity at the same time), the figs are collected, a “son” or fig that was not the previous year and that is breva in this .

Following with its traditional biological cycle, the fig tree offers its second harvest at the end of summer, beginning of autumn, with figs, now, as protagonists.

From the gastronomic point of view, the figs tend to be much more appreciated than the figs , although in all sincerity, I am almost convinced that this preference is due more to the size of one crop and another, undoubtedly less in the case of the figs. And I say this because, from the point of its characteristics, the breva, usually larger than the fig, is less sweet than this one, although it has more brown flesh. I believe that the exaltation of the excellences of the fig against the fig resides more in the lesser of its harvest and in that it is produced earlier, as a tasty foretaste of what is to come, the fig.

At the time of its consumption, there are innumerable possibilities. On the one hand we have direct consumption which, as almost always in the case of fruits, is my preferred option; but there is also the important catalog of “natural” sweets in which both ingredients are protagonists (especially the fig) as for example, the compotes, the “fig bread”, jams, pies … not to mention its presence as an ingredient complementary in “main” dishes , very usually accompanying dishes and stews made with meats of different origin, with game, and so on.

For all those who are wondering why my insistence at the time of talking about “false fruit” , the answer is more biological than practical. Actually, well the figs, well the brevas are the meeting in a same vegetal receptacle, denominated of technical form sicono that reunites to an important quantity of the true fruits, technically drupeolas (or small drupes in which we eat so much the fleshy part , like the “bone” that we colloquially call nuggets and that are crispy when chewed).

By the way, if you are one of those that you like that mixture, for my excelsa, of cheese with quince … do not stop trying to change that quince for some good figs, when they arrive, or now with brevas.

Posted in Uncategorized

The judge figures in at least 23 million the embezzlement to the Canal de Isabel II of Madrid

Judge Eloy Velasco believes that the embezzlement to the public coffers by the detainees for the case of Canal de Isabel II would amount to about 25 million dollars (23.3 million euros at the current exchange rate), only in the operation that It involved the purchase of the Brazilian Emissao.

The judge raises that number in the order issued last night, which ordered the entry into prison eludible with bail of 4 million euros for the former financial director of Canal de Isabel II, Maria Fernanda Richmond, and 100,000 euros for the former manager of the Canal , Adrián Martín, detained in the Lezo operation together with former Madrid president Ignacio González.

In the car, it is stated that both would be involved in the diversion of this money to tax havens to enrich “unfairly” “certain people.” The magistrate maintains that in 2013 the Brazilian company Emissao was bought, “fictitiously overvalued”, an acquisition that was made without any control for the “deviation of public money from Madrid” to “third-country bank accounts with opacity”.

Barcelona offers the Agbar tower as the headquarters of the European Medicines Agency

The Agbar tower (now called the Glòries tower after formalizing the sale to the Merlin Properties Socimi group) is the building that the Barcelona City Council, the Generalitat and the State will offer as the headquarters of the European Medicines Agency.

This has been decided by the three administrations, represented by the Mayor of Barcelona, ​​Ada Colau, the Minister of Health, Toni Comín, and the Minister of Health, Dolors Montserrat, at a meeting held this Friday to give a new impetus to the Barcelona bid . The president of the Spanish Government, Mariano Rajoy, will defend the proposal before the European Council, most likely at the meeting of the heads of government in June, although the decision could be postponed for a few more months.

Many member states have the same aspiration as Spain (Brussels sources speak of 16 countries), although according to the latest information the main rivals of Barcelona in this dispute would be Amsterdam, Vienna, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Surveillance by surprise of 3% prosecutors puts the case against the ropes

The chief anti-corruption prosecutor, Manuel Moix, has relieved, by order of the State’s Attorney General, José Manuel Maza, the prosecutors investigating the case of the 3% commissions that allegedly charged CDC of businessmen and that currently a judge of El Vendrell (Tarragona).

The illegal financing of CDC was being investigated by the Civil Guard and, after knowing the fulminating relay, sources in the current of the investigations have assured this newspaper that the cessation of the prosecutors of Anticorruption José Grinda and Fernando Bermejo was going to have unpredictable consequences .

According to tax sources, as of this moment, prosecutors from the Anticorruption delegation in Catalonia, Fernando Maldonado and Teresa Duerto will be in charge of the investigation. The same sources point out that “the substitution corresponds to the strategy of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office so that the prosecutors delegated by the Anti-Corruption assume the cases of its territory and those of the Special Prosecutor’s Office can deal with the affairs of Madrid”.

Posted in Uncategorized