The UOC is a diverse, inclusive university committed to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 ("Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all"), which upholds higher education as a right that everyone should be able to exercise equally, regardless of their circumstances. With its quality e-learning model, the UOC provides lifelong learning opportunities for all people from all walks of life. Today, the commitment made more than 25 years ago is more relevant than ever.
Aware of the importance of e-learning in today's society, the UOC furthers the digital transformation of education by supporting governments, institutions and teaching communities around the world in the development of quality online education for all. Through these actions, it actively strengthens the fight against the access gap and the digital divide in education, a major challenge in the new post-pandemic world.
"Emergency remote teaching", the UOC's first emergency aid initiative, offered webinars to Spanish-speaking teachers to help them adapt to online teaching during the COVID-19 lockdowns. This project was selected for inclusion in The SDG Accord's 2021 annual report, which features real cases of good practices carried out by the group of educational institutions committed to the global challenges making up the agreement, and was also highlighted by the Latin American network CINDA as a good practice.
The UOC's student body is diverse, and recent years have seen an increase in the number of students with disabilities. We currently have 1,944 students with a certificate of disability of 33% or more. The range of difficulties that these students may face is wide: they may be related to eyesight, hearing or mobility; they may be cognitive, medical or psychological in nature; or they may have to do with communication channels or curricular adaptations. The need to comprehensively address these difficulties has led to the creation of a specific working group to make the university more accessible and open.
The UOC's priority is to help citizens and professionals to develop critical thinking, gain knowledge of realities other than their own, and prepare to face today's global and societal challenges. To that end, the University promotes the gender perspective throughout its teaching and research activities, aiming to generate and share non-androcentric knowledge that helps transform inequalities and promotes the value of equality and diversity in classrooms. Furthermore, we have worked to incorporate a global ethical commitment competency in all programmes of study, based on the framework provided by the 2030 Agenda. This competency includes the gender perspective, developed by the UOC's Equality Unit and intrinsically related to SDG 5 ("Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls").
With regard to the environment, the UOC is working on an environmental sustainability action plan to ensure that it is more sustainable and environmentally responsible. A working group has been created within the University Council, a body representing the university community, which will oversee a number of participatory projects to promote sustainability among the UOC community, in line with SDG 13 ("Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts"). For example, the UOC Environmental Conference and several workshops were organized for World Environment Day in 2021.
Also the UOC is leading the IAU SDG3 cluster on Health and Wellbeing, Universities for Good Health; an open network of higher education institutions spanning five continents, spearheaded by the UOC’s eHealth Center in Barcelona. As part as of the Global Cluster on Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (HESD) hosted by the International Association of Universities, it aims to be a champion for higher education and promote an integrated approach to health, in support of equity and wellbeing worldwide in line with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda.
The UOC also carries out various actions aimed at both the university community and society in general to further solve the challenges posed by the SDGs. These actions include the co-organization of the 6th OCUD Conference, held online for the first time, to discuss the keys to university development cooperation; the creation of the UOC Toolkit for the digital transformation of social organizations, a guide aimed at the voluntary sector with resources for adapting face-to-face activity to virtual or blended environments; and the organization of a series of online talks about global access to COVID-19 vaccines. The UOC also runs volunteering projects that seek to contribute to the 2030 Agenda's success.
The UOC strives towards social impact by carrying out research aimed at solving some of society's most pressing challenges, generating knowledge as a result, and sharing this knowledge with students and transferring it to society. This social impact is most noticeable when it stems from collaborations with governments or international bodies around the world, or public administrations or social organizations regionally, focusing on research and innovation, volunteering or social engagement.
An example of students' direct social engagement through research is the participatory final projects for bachelor's and master's degrees, an option that helps develop and improve social competencies and spark knowledge co-creation processes. Students interested in participatory research can form partnerships with non-profit organizations to work together on ways to address specific real-life needs.
Thanks to the UOC's academic approach, methodology, global classrooms and student support model, we are able to turn our students into agents of change who have what it takes to make improvements to their surroundings and better people's lives. Volunteering is a practical way to help empower students through life experience.
Focusing on the regions where it has students, the UOC works with organizations to promote social volunteering, thus bringing the university into closer contact with the non-profit sector and building ties that can enhance the university community's social impact.
The UOC offers two options to become a university volunteer:
When students enrol, they are given the option of making a €10 donation to support the UOC's social engagement projects (charitable enrolment). They simply have to select the "UOC cooperation donation" option when completing enrolment.
Further information is available at More UOC / Cooperation and social involvement