Erasmus Charter for Higher Education (ECHE) 2014-2020

Overall strategy

The UC considers the new European Programme a valuable opportunity to make a significant progress in its internationalization process. Since the application for the Charter 2007-2013, the UC has been one of the top nine universities in Spain to be awarded the title “Campus of Excellence” by the Spanish Ministry of Education for a project entitled “Cantabria International Campus” which was able to aggregate local and regional stakeholders, optimise their synergies and design an international strategy encompassing the whole university. This strategy established several priority action-lines to foster mobility and increase the UC attractiveness to European and non-European students and staff, such as the enlarging of the academic offer delivered in English and the improvement of the English proficiency of local students and staff, the creation of an International Doctorate School (one of the first school of this kind in Spain) and the establishment of strategic mobility partnerships with prestigious US, Canadian and Australian universities. The Programme allows the UC to complete these actions and re-define this policy, taking into account the assets accumulated since the beginning of the Erasmus Programme: a strong leadership commitment at a central and a faculty level, a stable and structured IRO and a large number of reliable European and non-European partners. From this starting point, and from a realistic approach within an adverse economic context, the UC establishes the following objectives for the years 2014-2020, concerning initiatives related to increasing the quality of mobility as well as internal actions, oriented to deepen the internationalization of the campus:

1. Consolidation of an array of close partners in Europe and outside within two main geographical areas while establishing a number of key partners in three others:

  • Northern America with the current 19 partners, among which can be found 4 Ivy League universities (Cornell, Penn, Brown and Princeton) and an existing Atlantis project.
  • Latin-America, focusing on Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, México and Chile.
  • Russia.
  • Northern Africa focusing on Morocco.
  • Eastern Asia focusing on China and South Korea.

These countries have been selected in view of existing active links and actions that can be further developed and taking into account UC interests and these countries’ strategic relevance.

2. Identification of a reasonable number of most academically compatible partners with the UC to attain high quality mobility for inbound and outbound students and staff and also, to establish a significant number of double/joint degree programmes. So far, the UC participates in an Erasmus Mundus Master in the field of Economics but one of its objectives is to participate and/or coordinate a larger number of joint Masters.

3. Reinforcement of the existing academic offer delivered in English at a graduate level, in Engineering, Business and Economics, Physics, Spanish Language and Culture, and Health Sciences and development of international Master and Doctoral courses, by providing core contents in English so that a short term or summer programme could be designed in collaboration with the Santander Group. The purpose of these actions is twofold: to be able to attract more international students and to improve the English language proficiency of local students and staff.

4. Increase the number of students and staff with a mobile experience, specially fostering exchanges at second and third cycles in line with objective 3, which are at an nacent stage, eliminate barriers for long term stays and encourage short exchange periods and organised traineeships, so as to complete the integration of a culture of mobility in the university core activities. In order to complete the process of partner selection and establishment of mobility targets and indicators, the methodology to be implemented will start from a thorough analysis of the current exchange situation at each faculty, in terms of exchange students’ numbers and levels, geographical balance and academic compatibility of study programmes carried out by the Commission for Exchange Programmes and the Faculty academic coordinators. The results will complement and enrich the institutional strategic decisions to be made throughout the life of the Programme.

5. Improve the quality of the centralised support services provided to inbound students and staff and facilitate procedures and communication with host universities and companies.

6. Information and dissemination of mobility opportunities will be widely published using traditional media and social networks and a communication policy to inform secondary education students with the collaboration of the regional government will be implemented. Mobility will be assessed with specific indicators; the IRO is currently going through an EFQM accreditation process, and is monitored annually within the context of the university quality guarantee system.

International strategy for the organization

One of the main objectives of the UC for 2014-2020 is to be more pro-active and increase its participation in cooperation projects (In the 2013 call, it has applied for 4 Tempus, 2 Erasmus Mundus, Action 2) which is a significant improvement. The UC has developed adequate technical capacity and skills and is endowed with a strong institutional support to coordinate and participate in projects with existing strategic partners and networks (Santander and Compostela Groups) and establish new alliances with business and institutions and also, in capacity building projects with third and neighbouring countries. Existing cooperation activities with strategic partners such as the Cornell-Cantabria Programme in Engineering (2011 Heiskell Award Honorable Mention in International Partnerships) with the Cantabrian Government, the ‘SmartCity Project’ with the universities of Lancaster, Lübeck and Melbourne and Ferrovial and Telefónica as well as the municipality and the International Master in Banking and Financial Markets, delivered in Morocco and Mexico, with Banco Santander are examples that link mobility, cooperation and business and/or institutions, and in the last case, also capacity building. Knowledge Alliances with Businesses and Entrepreneurship can also be facilitated by Cantabria Campus of International Excellence and CISE (International Centre Santander Entrepreneurship) created under the auspices of Banco Santander and the Regional Government of Cantabria. Concerning IT platforms and virtual mobility and teaching, the UC is able to design and participate in international projects since it already has an IT common platform with the G9 Spanish Universities Network System, and delivers an array of courses open to students from the nine universities. It also supports virtual teaching with new technologies (example of which is the Valdecilla virtual Hospital), multimedia resources and the development of Open Educational Resources such as an ‘Open Courseware’ portal.

Modernisation Agenda

The UC expects that the Programme will be critical in the UC modernization and internationalization process. Key actions 1 and 2 will contribute to foster mobility and cooperation actions not only in Europe but in other geographical areas, and to expose a much broader sector of the university community to an international experience. The UC is determined to make use of the Programme to develop the initiatives launched through its Campus of International Excellence and will establish the following objectives within its framework and in order to comply with the priorities of the Modernisation Agenda:

1. To provide for a more well-rounded education to a higher percentage of its graduates with the help of a broad offer of mobility and traineeships so that the students acquire complementary skills, both personal and professional, to enter the job-market anywhere in Europe.

2. To increase the English language proficiency of all students up to at least B2 level, by means of widening the courses delivered in English and attracting foreign academic staff (staff mobility: Key action 1) and by using IT and fostering virtual mobility (Key action 2).

3. To increase transparency in the academic offering and working on the university grading culture so that the quality of mobility improves, facilitates academic recognition and provides the student with easily read credentials of their international activities. To obtain a quality assessment for its practices, The UC intends to apply for ECTS label and to use EUROPASS tools for its traineeships.

4. To facilitate the participation of most vulnerable students and staff in all actions and, when and if available, external funds will be primarily given using criteria based on financial need and academic excellence.

5. To create an alumni exchange student database so as to monitor and analyse with objective data and information the actual impact of international education experiences in the professional careers.

The UC will seriously consider participating in actions that aim at strengthening the already existing links with Research and Business specially in the areas that vertebrate the UC excellence, namely Water and Energy, Biomedicine and Biotechnology, Physics and Mathematics and Heritage and Language, Banking, Finances and Entrepreneurial activities together with the projects targeted to improve education and collaboration with other European and non-European HEIs. A special effort will be made in disseminating the results of the projects in which the UC could be involved. Thus, the Programme will boost the UC profile in the EHEA and will definitely contribute to its comprehensive modernization and to increase its social and economic impact within the local and regional context.