International Campus of Excellence: An opportunity we cannot miss

When the EOI, ever watchful of what is happening around it, identified the Education Minister’s interest in training, in different ways, the future managers of the emerging International Campus of Excellence (CEI), it took on a major challenge. This exciting new initiative, launched to draft changes within the Spanish university system, has had a difficult start and has not had the complete backing of the university community. Moreover, neither the business community with its stance of “keeping a distance” from education, nor the average citizen, whose interest in this proposal should have been aroused, encouraged this venture.

Aware of this environment, and supported by the interesting response of many in the existing CEI, the course has been put in motion and taken its first steps: a residential experience abroad – in the historic site of Karlsruhe. Using the latest digital learning technology a group of 20 people decided to dedicate a considerable amount of time to learning, sharing and building what  a future CEI should be – a center of excellence with international origins and an example of what changes are required in the current Spanish University system.

In my view, given the interest shown by the participants and taking into account their backgrounds and their aspirations, there is no reason to think why the course shouldn’t be a complete success: the EOI will have laid the foundation stone so that the first running of this course be repeatable and pioneering in this new stage of the school, fully geared towards new ways of learning.

It is not, however, this «output» that most calls my attention to the consequences of this course. I think I would assign other greater challenges which would be more significant than the training of a select group of managers. It would be more desirable that  the formative experience of 20 select members of the Spanish university community, speaking in English and arguing strongly through the digital network mechanisms available, to be transformed into a GROUP prepared for the challenges of IMPROVING CEI in Spain.

There is no doubt that there will be changes affecting the academic world around us in the months to come. We cannot afford to disregard the opinions we have based on the shared experience of such a large number of active members of the CIS.

In the inaugural lecture of the course, given by Professor Jesus Marín, the Spanish University System was revealed as a situation full of actions in need of change, emergencies to be resolved and serious threats as to its sustainability. Without entering into details, regarding the personal opinion of the speaker I have no doubt that many of the points cited have much bearing in the present and they should been resolved in the near future.

Based on what we will see on the course, looking for the best teaching given, taking part in discussions and building a proposal for the future for the CEI, we could really be working towards what exactly is needed to be done so that the Spanish University system holds a transformational role in the uncertain years ahead – a role that will undoubtedly be one playing alongside the great centers of knowledge in the countries we would like to resemble.

If we are to do this, I invite the audience to take a dual role in their attitude to the course: as learners and teachers, receivers and transmitters and in all cases to be active members in the process of creating something new. To give support to the ties with the business world, undeniable partners in the process of change, let us complement the face to face sessions with the participation of members of business institutions who, in turn, can give their views and allow a closer understanding and coming together of both parties.

At the end of the course, scheduled for April 2012, we will be able to conduct self-evaluations to see if we have added to the official program described as a small giant: the creation of a think tank that can survive as its inevitable conclusion. It is a challenge for all but we’re starting off with you: are you going to take up the gauntlet?

Francisco Marín , Director of Management Development Programme  for ICE

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