Forty-four Colombians to study for a master's degree at the UOC thanks to the ICETEX grants programme
Photo: Inbal Marilli / Unsplash
Guida Fullana

Forty-four Colombians will be studying for a university master's degree thanks to the grants offered by the UOC in the call of the Colombian National Overseas Study Grants Commission of ICETEX, published in November 2016. These education grants will offer Colombian students with the best academic performance the chance to study at a European university.

The grant holders will commence their chosen university master's degree courses in the second semester of the 2016–2017 academic year. The courses receiving the most applications have been Education and ICTs; Information and Communication Technology Security; Computer Engineering; Human Rights, Democracy and Globalization; Bioinformatics and Biostatistics; and Humanities: Contemporary Culture, Literature and Art. The grants awarded offer partial exemption from the enrolment fee.

This is the first of the three types of grant that the University is planning to roll out as part of the action plan for a global and social UOC in the 2017–2020 period. Besides the grants programmes with various state agencies such as ICETEX, the coming months will see the beginning of the grants programme with international university networks as well as a special grants programme for students who are in special socio-economic situations, arising due to unexpected or unforeseen causes.

Contribution to development

Pastora Martnez, UOC Vice President for Globalization and Cooperation, explains that one of the aims of the University's agreement with ICETEX is to help Colombian students access higher education in an international sphere so that they can increase their professional options and improve their quality of life. "After this experience," the vice president said, "the idea is to identify similar institutions in other countries to set up similar programmes."

The agreement with ICETEX has doubled the number of international students on the UOC university master's degrees compared with the previous period and has raised the profile of the University's course offering to a wider foreign public.

Profile of the grant holders

In this first call with ICETEX, the applicants for grants to study at the UOC are primarily between 26 and 35 years old and are in the middle and low socio-economic strata, of which a third work in the education sector, another third in public administration, and the rest in companies.

Although a high number of students live in large cities such as Bogot and Medelln, the students are spread over a number of towns throughout the whole of Colombia.

Women represent 43% of those awarded grants, although in the case of the Faculty of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications, 76% of the grant holders are men.

Gemma Xarles, director of Globalization and Cooperation, observes that "one thing that stands out is that nearly 60% of the students say in their letter of motivation that they hope to improve the social and professional environment in which they work thanks to the knowledge they will acquire at the UOC."


ICETEX is a Colombian state agency that promotes higher education through awarding educational loans and grants, with own or third-party resources, to people with limited economic resources and good academic performance. Similarly, the agency helps with access to the educational opportunities offered by the international community.