The UOC commitment to incorporate the 2030 Agenda, a pioneering initiative among the international networks
Virgnia Snchez

The UOC has positioned itself as the first university in the CINDA international network to integrate the United Nations 2030 Agenda within its strategic plan. At the 13th Annual Meeting of CINDA Administration and Finance Managers in Pisac (Peru), Antoni Cahner, General Manager of the UOC, commented that "in view of the new international framework of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, the role of the university in society has to reposition itself and go well beyond the traditional concept of social responsibility. We need to incorporate this vision in the principal role of the university to generate and transfer knowledge".

Before representatives of forty Latin American and European universities, Cahner presented the UOC proposal as a global university with a social impact. The UOC, with its 20 years of experience in online higher education, can contribute significantly to the new agenda of the United Nations, which is demanding specifically in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 that, by 2030, universities include as a goal ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.

The general manager of the University commented that, as has been witnessed in Catalonia over these two decades, quality e-learning is one of the most effective and efficient ways of extending access to and the coverage of higher education. Cahner also explained to university representatives that, "it can also be a learning methodology which facilitates and promotes the education of citizens and professionals worldwide, since it allows people from different parts of the world to interact and share knowledge in the same virtual space".

Recognition of the quality of e-learning

However, Antoni Cahner warned that, in order for this to be possible in countries, "it is not enough for universities to start offering quality virtual education; they will also have to work to ensure that ministries and departments in charge of education and quality assessment agencies recognize this education". According to the general manager, "governments need to have the corresponding mechanisms to differentiate quality e-learning from education proposals that do not meet the standards or respect the ethical principles of universities". With this in mind, the experience of the UOC in this sphere has been made available to any universities that require it.

The General Manager explained to the other universities the experience of collaborating with certain CINDA universities and said that they were on course to fulfil SDG 4. These initiatives include the mentoring service to Pontificia Universidad Catlica de Chile's vocational training institute, DUOC UC, to help it to implement virtual units that will allow access to students who experience difficulty attending class in person.

In addition, Cahner highlighted the advisory role of the UOC to quality assessment agencies of certain countries in order for them to review their regulations, for example in Ecuador, Mexico, Colombia, Jordan and Chile. He also mentioned the EDUATIC project with UniAndes, the aim of which is to create quality manuals and measurement tools which contain evidence of the positive impact of ICTs on higher education, and the virtual international mobility programmes which the UOC is currently developing with Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia, Cooperativa Universitaria Minuto de Dios (Uniminuto) and DUOC UC. The hope with this last project is to promote the global skills of students and allow them to study at a European university and meet people from other parts of the world without having to change location.