The word crisis is etymologically related to the Greek verb krínein, which originally meant ‘to separate, to break’ and which later came to mean ‘to select, to choose’. A crisis, in effect, always implies a break in the linear course of events, resulting in a series of alternatives from which to choose.
It is in this sense that it must be understood that the university is in crisis today: a rupture is taking place between the ancient molds that have been shaping the university as we have understood it to date and the needs that the society of the century XXI demands him. The challenges facing the university as an institution are certainly not new,
The first of these challenges has to do with the ability to adapt to a labor market in deep transformation. In this sense, it should be remembered that the 2020 Report of the World Economic Forum on the Future of Employment predicts that in 2025 there will be 85 million jobs that will become obsolete as a result of the digitization and automation of certain jobs, while it will be It is necessary to fill 97 million new positions that appeared as a result of these changes. Given this, the university must redefine its training offer in depth.
For this, it is necessary, on the one hand, to work on the redesign of the existing degrees, which should focus more attention on the development of competencies that allow graduates to acquire new skills in the future, than on contents that tend to become out of date at great length. speed.
On the other, ways must be found to allow continuous training, opening the doors to an audience other than the traditional student. All this requires transversality and flexibility, features that have not characterized the Spanish university system up to now, which is traditionally organized in studies generally understood as watertight compartments, with slow and highly bureaucratized verification systems for new degrees.
The second challenge that the university must respond to is methodological regeneration. The efforts made in this regard in recent years have been enormous, but the road ahead is still long. It is not only that young people have different study habits and learning styles, but, above all, that the digital revolution has made available to those who need them vast amounts of information, management tools and support technology that requires specific skills.
The role of the teacher, then, is no longer only to transmit information, but to train in the management of the information available to solve specific problems. This requires new methodological approaches, such as problem-based learning or flipped class, which are already being applied successfully by the world’s most prestigious universities,
The third great challenge facing the Spanish university is internationalization. Internationalization means the ability to attract talent , but also the ability to train graduates who can compete in the international job market. Our doctors or engineers have spent part of their careers abroad for years, while our master’s programs attract students from all over the world. In a globalized world, opening to the outside is no longer a merit, but a requirement.
For all of this to be possible, in-depth changes are essential. Changes that require, above all, public investment. For a few years now, there have been a few Spanish universities that stand out in the international rankings: the large Catalan universities (UPF, UB and UAB) and Madrid (UCM and UAM), and some others, such as the University of Navarra .
The universities of other countries that occupy similar places in those same rankings have budgets that are five times those of the Spanish ones. No matter how much talent they treasure, our universities will not be able to maintain these very successful results without a strong investment commitment.