The UPC: a university with an international character

UPC Orientation Week for international students
In September 2018, the University will hold a series of sessions within the framework of UPC Orientation Week for international students, a week of induction activities aimed especially at international students who are undertaking periods of study at the UPC under exchange programmes or starting a master’s course.

Orientation Week includes an institutional welcome event, and new students are provided with information on legal procedures they must complete when they arrive in Catalonia, services offered by the UPC (accommodation, language programmes, sports, libraries, etc.), and social and cultural activities.

Nearly 3000 students in mobility programmes, 378 academic cooperation agreements with international institutions, and participation in 14 international networks – these are some of the figures that reflect the UPC’s determination to open itself up to the world, creating new synergies that leverage capabilities and boost the impact of its activity in all areas.

Sep 18, 2018

The University’s international footprint is an increasingly important aspect of its roadmap for the future. Activities related to teaching, research, knowledge transfer and development cooperation are taking on an ever more intercultural dimension. Actions in all of these areas will need to be intensified in the coming years in line with the strategic objectives set out in the UPC Internationalisation Plan 2017–2021.

Internationalisation: a key priority for prestigious universities
According to Juan Jesús Pérez, the UPC’s vice-rector for International Policy, “Internationalisation allows us to attract talent, implement good practices, and benchmark against the world’s best universities.”

International student mobility has increased this year. A total of 1507 UPC students (6% more than last year) have chosen to complete part of their studies abroad, whether by taking particular subjects or doing their bachelor’s thesis at a foreign university, or by pursuing an international double-degree programme. EU countries (particularly Germany, France and Italy) are the preferred destination, but the United States is also gaining in popularity and is now the destination for 19% of mobility placements. The number of students completing work placements in international companies is also growing.

In the last academic year, 1490 foreign students completed periods of study at the UPC under exchange programmes (up 1% from the previous year). Seventy percent of incoming students were from the European Union. The number of countries covered by exchange programmes has also increased thanks to the Erasmus+ KA107 programme, which offers grants to fund mobility placements in certain countries outside the European Union.

The UPC’s teaching and research staff also participated in the Erasmus programme in the academic year 2017–2018. Over a hundred staff members undertook teaching stays, 28 of which were completed at universities outside Europe. Administrative and service staff also take advantage of mobility programmes. During the last academic year, 41 individuals completed international stays (13 of them outside the European Union), and 48 staff members from foreign institutions participated in stays at the UPC.

Attracting international talent
Internationalisation at the UPC involves more than just mobility. In recent years, the University has expanded its offering of courses taught in English. This academic year, a third of master’s degrees will be taught entirely in English. This course offering has helped attract international talent: 32% of students taking master’s courses and 52% of those enrolled in doctoral programmes are from abroad.

To pursue the goal of attracting talent, the UPC has built new partnerships with grant-awarding agencies in various countries and participated in educational fairs at a total of 40 venues in 18 countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

An expanding network of agreements
The UPC’s commitment to working with other prestigious institutions has led to the signing of numerous collaboration agreements. Over the last academic year, 68 new academic cooperation agreements were concluded with international institutions, bringing the total number of such agreements to 378. There has also been an increase in the number of double-degree agreements with prestigious universities. The UPC now has 49 agreements of this kind with 30 institutions around the world.

The UPC’s recognition of the value of networking is also reflected in its active participation in 14 international networks and its focus on and involvement in international partnerships such as the InnoEnergy knowledge and innovation community. KIC InnoEnergy is a network supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) that fosters innovation related to sustainable energy sources.

The UPC is also one of three universities behind the Sino-Spanish Campus, the first Spanish university branch campus in China, created by the UPC, the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) and Tongji University (China). The platform promotes higher education and research in the fields of engineering, technology and applied sciences, as well as supporting knowledge transfer and cultural exchange.

In 2018, the University has also participated in international missions to develop new collaboration agreements with institutions around the world (Shaoxing, Moscow, Beijing and Shanghai) and in a variety of fields.

In addition, the UPC hosts four UNESCO Chairs that seek to create poles of excellence and innovation at the regional and local level. The aim of the Chairs is to build partnerships that strengthen international cooperation between higher education institutions and society.

Increasingly international research
The UPC also participates in international research and innovation projects with universities, research centres and companies. In 2017, 59 new international projects with a total budget of €17 million were approved.

In recent years, the UPC has cemented its position as the Spanish university that attracts the most H2020 funding. Since the European programme was launched in 2014, the UPC has participated in 147 projects (acting as project leader on 41) that have received a total of over €53 million in funding. One project led by the UPC is Anywhere, which was awarded €12 million in funding. The project involves creating an innovative platform for detecting extreme weather events and issuing early warnings so that they can be managed more effectively. The University also participates in projects that involve collaboration with large international corporations. One example is CARNET, a research and innovation hub created by the UPC, Volkswagen Group Research and SEAT to develop innovative solutions for the automotive industry and future urban mobility.

In fact, international collaboration is one of the University’s strengths according to the latest edition of ShanghaiRanking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects (GRAS), which ranks the UPC among the top 50 in four engineering disciplines.

Global commitment
The UPC community also gets involved in activities related to development cooperation and other social participation and volunteer programmes delivered at locations around the planet. For example, this year over 600 UPC students and staff have been involved in 60 development cooperation projects and social participation and volunteer programmes coordinated by the Centre for Development Cooperation (CCD).

Fifty-three of these projects are being carried out in cooperation with NGOs and other entities in low-income countries and populations, and many are being implemented this summer. The projects involve the mobility of 130 members of the UPC community, who will help improve life for assisted populations in a wide range of areas, including water, sanitation and waste management; agriculture and the agri-food industry; architecture, construction and town planning; mining; information and communication technology; visual health; energy; and education.