ONWARDS AND UPWARDS
“We come from an old academic tradition, but the future of education forces us to think in contemporary ways,” says José Luis Chamosa, Vice Rector of the University of León (ULE). “I think that in the next five years, for example, the format of traditional classes will disappear.” It’s an innovative thought, but this comes as little surprise from such a forward-thinking institution.
In 1979, ULE was one of four universities established to answer a call for public higher education in Spain. The university now spans two campuses in northwest Spain, in the cities of León and Ponferrada, and offers some 15,000 students around 40 undergraduate, 35 master’s and 30 postgraduate courses.
León is a region steeped in centuries of art and culture. However, instead of being reliant on tradition, ULE is forging new ways of teaching to meet demands in education. “We’re constantly finding innovative ways to adapt the learning environment and experience,” says Chamosa. “Being able to provide a range of technical, modern courses means we appeal to a broader spectrum of students both abroad and at home.” This range includes courses in law, biological sciences and history of art, with “contemporary” subjects such as bio-agriculture, workplace management and international finance becoming ever more popular.
Part of the university’s commitment to adaptation is the introduction of distance learning on some of its courses. “There is a changing philosophy around higher education,” says Chamosa. “Technology is a driving factor, and we are lucky to have the facilities and resources to make sure our teaching methods are accessible and engaging whatever the distance.” ULE also offers a range of pick-and-mix online and traditional modules to tailor a student’s individual programme of study, encouraging a less rigid approach to academia.
Another commitment is ULE’s internationalisation programme. As well as increasing its English language opportunities, the university works with Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries to create new links overseas. Partner institutions in Asia also share their expertise, as with the double degree in Mechanical Engineering offered in partnership with China’s University of Xiangtan.
“Priming the students for a career at a multinational company means we have to able to offer a multinational education,” says Chamosa. With this in mind, exchange programmes with Erasmus and Amicus allow students to study overseas. Likewise, the programmes allow for students from other countries to come to León to explore, for example, its extensive research opportunities.
“Cybernetics is something that we are very proud of,” says Chamosa. “Our research programme within the School of Engineering gives IT students the opportunity to improve cyber security.” The university’s impressive computing facilities and links to the National Institute of Cybersecurity (INCIBE) provide assistance to the civil service. “Our other main areas of research are in health,” says Chamosa. “Spain has one of Europe’s highest life expectancy rates, so we’re well positioned to study ageing and quality of life.”
Forging the future is part of the spirit of ULE. “After 38 years we continue to offer exemplary levels of innovation and opportunity – two factors that lie at the heart of this dynamic university,” says Chamosa. “Meeting groups of young and enthusiastic students, who love where they’re studying and what they’re studying, affirms that we are offering the best education possible in an ever-changing academic landscape.” Backed by a strong sense of tradition, the University of León pushes ever onwards and upwards with its focus on providing an interdisciplinary, interactive and international education.