Our plan for the next four years will be built around a set of core elements that are fundamental to the university’s development.
A University is its people
To deliver its mission of teaching, research, knowledge transfer and social transformation, a university must concern itself first and foremost with its people. On the one hand, thinking about the students, who represent the present and future of the university itself, but more importantly, of Asturian society in the local context as well as globally — as citizens of a globalised world. On the other hand, thinking of the staff of the institution — the administration and services staff and the teaching staff — who are directly responsible for delivering on the missions underpinning the university’s goals. Our governance activities will always put people first, by going to the utmost efforts to improve working and study conditions, and offering opportunities for professional development and, in short, creating a university life that fills each of us with pride and personal and collective satisfaction.
A technologically advanced University
Our commitment to technology during this period has been very substantial, with almost 2 million euros invested annually in IT tools. We have upgraded virtually the entire infrastructure, extending the Wi-Fi network and developing a significant number of computer applications. With great success, we have also invested in acquiring the fullest Microsoft Campus license for all members of the university community. However, we must not rest on our laurels and we recognise that we are far from an ideal situation. The future of the university depends on technology and we must head towards even greater development. Technology must allow for more agile management processes, better distance education and easier access to information. This will therefore be one of the pillars of our governance initiatives and one of the areas of expansion and growth in resources.
The impact on productive sectors
One of the most strongly criticised aspects of Spanish science is that its high number of publications do not produce the expected impact on the productive sector. A relevant line of action in a modern university should therefore be the transfer of knowledge to the productive sector. The increase in the number of contracts with companies and — highly relevant — the creation of university Chairs (which create permanent links with the productive sector) has guided our governance initiatives over these four years. Increasing this activity by expanding the number of initiatives but, above all, by extending them to new fields where there has traditionally been less transference shall be a core area. New spaces need to be created for collaboration, laboratories and science parks — both physical and virtual — in which unique and strategic projects can be developed to regenerate the economy of Asturias.
International recognition and impact
International collaboration is something that is inherent in a university institution and, in this respect, the University of Oviedo’s performance over the last four years has been remarkable. Our position in Europe is strong and we have progressively strengthened our relationships with Asia and America. Our progress has been spectacular over these four years — both in the expansion of our international activity and in terms of funds received. Evidence of this includes our consolidation within the Shanghai Ranking as one of the world’s 500 best universities and our excellent results in regard to environmental sustainability.
It is increasingly necessary to support the international development of campuses, enabling students to join from other countries and systems, and investing in broader mobility. For this, it is essential to ensure that there be programmes and agreements between universities, companies, and Spanish and international institutions — in particular, those in Europe. Our university is firmly committed to the international development of its campuses and proof of this is our focus on leading a European University project. Alliances such as AURE (the Alliance of Russian and Spanish Universities), international projects, mobility and global cooperation programmes will be core aspects of our governance initiatives.
An inclusive and egalitarian university
Diversity is a fact of life in Western societies and universities are not alien to this reality. We need to maintain the momentum in serving people with specific needs, designing more robust mechanisms for action in cases of harassment and achieving the full integration of women under conditions of effective equality with men. In this area, the assessment of (in)equality published in March this year has been the starting point for updating the equality plan and initiating the corresponding negotiation of new measures with unions.
We have made significant progress throughout this term of office via various initiatives aimed at building a more inclusive university. We have implemented protocols against harassment and name-changing within gender-change processes. We have included identification using the name an individual feels they have. We have made toilets unisex. We have upgraded facilities to improve access. Setting up the Ethics Committee and drafting our Code of Ethics place us at the forefront of Spanish universities in terms of inclusion, as does the progress we have made in applying the Historical Memory Act. However, there is still a long way to go. We will continue to develop initiatives to achieve this essential objective.
A sustainable University
For a few years now, the planet has been asking us to change the way we live. We cannot continue to consume resources as if they were unlimited. We simply cannot continue to pollute, because we all suffer the consequences. The university must take the lead and be an example in sustainability. Our leadership role has been clear — not only through our sustainability projects, but also because we have put ourselves at the forefront of all Spanish universities in the CRUE Sustainability sector. Taking our Social Responsibility Report as a starting point, the complete alignment of our institution with the goals of Agenda 2030 will be another key area in our governance initiatives.
A University for a lifetime
The university of the 21st century is undergoing profound changes. Social demands, competition and the need for lifelong learning make the university more than simply an institution you enter at the age of and graduate from a few years later. This new university must be a cultural, educational and research point of reference at any stage of life. That is why we have been developing programmes and activities for people aged 3 to 90. We arouse scientific interest among children, who will be our future customers. We encourage curiosity among teenagers and offer a wide range of cultural and educational options to our graduates, whatever their age. We have strengthened our expert degrees, the University of Oviedo Senior Programme (PUMUO) and the University Extension Programme as never before. Furthermore, to bring about greater involvement, we have created the University of Oviedo Club Alumni 360⁰. People’s links with the university should be for good. We should also be a leader within the life and culture of Asturias, for any age and in whatever situation.
Social reactivation engine
The public service provided by the university should not be limited to its basic role in its classrooms and laboratories; it should be an institution that contributes effectively to the revitalising of Asturian society — both as a cultural engine that stimulates culture for the population of Asturias, and as an active part of the economic recovery needed in our region. The university must be increasingly recognised as a place for training leaders and the greatest social elevator available to us in the 21st century as we work towards a more fair and prosperous society and a dynamic economy based on knowledge and technology.
A University looking out over the world from Asturias
In recent decades, the world has seen a change in its academic, cultural and economic paradigm within a globalised context and focused on sustainability, which has never forgotten local culture as a point of reference. It is within this context that we have been working for the last four years: intensifying the relationship between the University of Oviedo and the territory around it, involving its community in the socio-economic fabric that supports it, using the language that we were able to create and cultivate, and standardising our traditions and customs, blending them with those from other peoples and territories with which we want to continue to grow our student body and our outward-looking vision of the world. In short, a world that needs a global outlook without forgetting who we are, where we come from, where we want to go, and with a simultaneously global and local vision and communication.
The search for fair funding
Financial resources are the essential support that a higher education public institution needs to function. In 2017, the University of Oviedo and the government of the Principality of Asturias signed a funding agreement for the university that runs until 2022. This was a pioneer in Spain and has given us a framework of financial stability. Although the funding plan is developing reasonably well, the provision of resources for strategic projects is still scarce — especially with regard to infrastructure and attracting talent.
In Spain, since the arrival of the economic crisis in 2008 and the associated fiscal emergency, the governmental response to public funding of universities has been characterised by a reduction in resources and a cessation of many research funding plans.
In order to overcome this economic blockage, a new model for funding public universities needs to be developed by means of a baseline amount that covers structural costs and is accompanied by overall financing based on results that is sufficient to face the challenges that society demands of us. This will be an essential governance goal and challenge.
Decentralisation and autonomy
There is a saying that government works best the closer it is to those it governs. In the university this principle is based on the idea that research centres, departments and institutes should have the maximum capacity for self-management. This is why the regulations designed by the university must provide them with the maximum autonomy to tackle very different realities. This must, of course, be accompanied by sufficient resources to enable such autonomy to be managed. The increase in budgets, the allocation of human resources for management and technical staff, together with utmost respect for the autonomy of centres, departments and institutes has been a focus of our action these past four years and will be again in the next four ahead.
By applying our recently approved Code of Ethics, which will guide the relationships of the institution and its staff with external organisations and companies, we will achieve a more responsible, fairer and more committed university.
We have strengthened our expert degrees, the University of Oviedo Senior Programme (PUMUO) and the University Extension Programme as never before.
We have developed programmes and activities for ages 3 to 90, arousing scientific interest among children, who will be our future clients