In this interview Roberto Fernández talks about the new stage of the network after ACUP assumed its secretariat and presidency on May 2014.
What goals has the GUNi set itself in this new stage with its new partner, the Catalan Association of Public Universities, along with UNESCO and the United Nations University?
First, I would say that the GUNi is an established project and an international benchmark, with a notable track record since its inception in 1999. The World Reports on the state of higher education in the world, which are certainly a reference in the global panorama of higher education and the different regions of the world, offer clear proof of this. From this perspective, the first goal is to consolidate the work done. Secondly, we wish to strengthen the GUNi’s presence in different regions of the world in order to play a useful role in the debate on university policies dealing with the different contexts and realities. In this sense, one of the instruments should be working together with the stakeholders and institutions in the various regions and with all of the UNESCO Chairs in higher education. Finally, in the next two years we wish to focus our attention on a subject that we believe to be relevant: the role of higher education institutions in regional development. We aim to encourage debate as to the impact of universities on their direct area of influence, and as to how the university can connect global science and reflection with the social, cultural, economic and technological impetus of the regions where it is present.
The Catalan Association of Public Universities brings together Catalonia’s eight public universities and works to achieve inter-university cooperation and the advancement of higher education in Catalonia. How do you think this can be integrated with the purposes of the GUNi?
The ACUP works intensively in the field of inter-university cooperation, in our case between the eight public universities in Catalonia. One is precisely the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, which has fuelled the GUNi exceptionally during these years and to whom I am most grateful for their work. The ACUP understands that inter-university cooperation is a key vector for the consolidation of our institutions because it creates interdependencies, economies of scale, increased visibility and it strengthens the link between the university and society. In this sense, we wish to contribute our modest experience in inter-university cooperation on a global scale and in the different regions of the world. As I say, we believe that greater collaboration between universities is one of the paths needed to make the university stronger and more permeable. Finally, I would also highlight that the ACUP has had and still enjoys a strong international presence, and in this sense we become GUNi partners with a desire to enhance university relations internationally on a global scale.