Society 07/05/2021

The "educational" revolution being prepared by the UPF

Activities outside class hours will be taken into account, there will be fewer lectures, and students will learn to do research

2 min
The Ciutadella campus of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, in an archive photo

BarcelonaAt the Universitat Pompeu Fabra they are preparing what they consider to be an "educational revolution". In two years' time, students will have half or fewer lectures and more group sessions in which the teacher will be a coach or tutor, fewer multiple-choice exams and more reflection and participation in class. Inspired by the wave of educational transformation that for a decade has changed schools and institutes in the country and also by how the best universities in the world, such as MIT and Stanford, work, the UPF wants to move towards a university model which "faces the future".

"I've been working at the university for 21 years and I've seen a huge change in the students' attention span, in the way they work and in their willingness to reflect, and industries have also changed, and they are asking for versatile professionals who can do transversal work", Manel Jiménez, UPF's commissioner for communication and education, told ARA. For the last few years he has been working with the vice-rector for innovation, Josep Lluís Martí, on the new EDvolució programme, after noticing a "different attitude in class" among students, who "arrive with dynamics that do not fit in with what the university could offer them". "In the midst of the information and communication society, the acquisition of knowledge is different and universities have to adapt to the new times and update our learning models", he says.

Fewer lectures and more student participation

They already have concrete measures in mind. Without giving up master lectures "as long as they make sense", the idea is to promote project work and learning based on the resolution of a problem, to promote the active participation of students and to move towards a personalisation of studies, with more hours of seminars, laboratory environments or simulations. "Learning is better when it is a practical experience", says Jiménez. In this sense, they are also preparing the Passaport, a kind of curriculum that will include the subjects taken but also all the skills and complementary activities that students do outside the academic timetable, such as theatre, debate leagues, language courses or sports. "Doing theatre will earn credits and will be registered to prove that the student is being trained in non-formal settings", says Jiménez

In addition, students will be prepared to do research. "Teaching methodologies have always been on one side and research on the other. We have to ensure that the research done by our teachers is reflected in our teaching content", says Jiménez. In fact, as the new rector, Oriol Amat, explained in an interview with ARA, one of the challenges facing the UPF over the next four years is to improve the transfer of knowledge to society.

The intention is that in September all UPF students will do at least one subject with this new model and there will be a call for volunteer teachers who want to start. Amat says that he will sign up because "if the rector does it, the rest of the teaching staff will think it is important", and this way he will also be able to detect what works and what can be improved. For the new rector, all these changes make possible "the teaching model that should have been the Bologna plan and which is very similar to incorporating the Anglo-Saxon model of Cambridge and Oxford into our education system". "One indicator that will prove whether we have done well is that in two years' time many people from all over the world will come to see our teaching model," he says.