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What development cooperation activities are carried out by universities?

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What development cooperation activities are carried out by universities?

Within their corresponding fields of activity and both individually or as a group, Spanish universities carry out various development-related activities that broadly speaking include:  Training (theory and practice) linked to development and cooperation; development-related research and studies on development, inter-university cooperation and strengthening higher education institutions in developing countries; diffusion, awareness-creation and mobilisation activities; and programmes and projects in the field.

  • Training actions (theory and practice): any type of training for which credits are granted and/or that count towards a recognised degree. Bachelor's, postgraduate and doctorate degrees (official or private) that are linked to development and cooperation; subjects and courses that are academically recognised or for which credit is awarded; trainer training; work experience carried out specifically in this field; and final year projects, among others.
  • Research activities: this category covers both development research and studies on development. Doctorate theses related to development cooperation; research projects and dissertations; research prizes, professorships, observatories and expert networks, among others.
  •  Inter-university cooperation aimed at institution building in higher education centres in partner countries. Joint research cooperation - University networks - Technical cooperation for improving study plans and degree syllabi (curriculum development for universities) - Transfer of knowledge and skills: training university educators - Training, technical support and university management exchange - Resource support: improving infrastructures and equipment in higher education centres.
  • Development Education activities that inform, mobilise and create awareness within the university community, especially among students, about development and cooperation issues, in addition to fostering research in Development Education and collaboration with other participants. Conferences, talks, debates, discussions, workshops, courses, seminars, forums and other spaces for reflection - Production of teaching material and publications - Awareness and mobilisation campaigns - Volunteer programmes (0 credit) - Campaigns for raising funds and generating support - Prizes for awareness-creation and diffusion activities.
  • Programmes and projects in the field. Calls for financial support of Development Cooperation programmes, projects and events - Development programmes and projects - Applied research projects related to development cooperation (these may contain a strong research element or slant without being classified as a research project per se) - Technical support and advice for other organisations involved in cooperation.
  • Promotion, management and coordination of University Cooperation for Development (CUD) policies and programmes. Large-scale events (meeting and conferences) for prospective planning, scheduling or overall evaluation - Cooperation policy coordination and harmonisation activities - Monitoring, evaluation and quality assurance systems for CUD policies - Management activities and internal training for CUD activities that cannot be classified in other areas.

Spanish universities within the cooperation system

Since the 2nd Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation, universities have been valued as key contributors to development cooperation and as such, are represented on the Council for Development Cooperation at both State and regional level. At State level, two Spanish university representatives are appointed by the University Coordination Council to serve on the State Council for Development Cooperation. As stipulated by the Internationalisation and Cooperation Commission (CICUE) of the Conference of Chancellors of Spanish Universities (CRUE), these representatives are the acting President and Secretary of the CICUE/CRUE Cooperation Work Group.

The Spanish Cooperation Observatory (OCUD/CRUE) is linked to this work group.

Spanish Universities also participate in all the Commissions of the Council, the Monitoring Commission, the Annual Spanish International Cooperation Plan (PACI), which they currently preside over, and the Policy Coherence Commission. They also form part of the work groups established within these Commissions: Development Education (presided over by Spanish Universities), Gender, Post-2015 Agenda, Evaluation and Monitoring, Development research and the Economic and Productive Sector. They participate in these groups through the collegiate CRUE body for Cooperation; the Cooperation Work Group of the Spanish University Internationalisation and Cooperation Commission (CICUE/CRUE).

State universities, as participants in the Spanish cooperation system, report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on their activities in this field through an annual inquiry know as the Monitoring Inquiry for the Annual International Cooperation Plan (PACI), which seeks to inform, orientate, summarise and validate. Last year, acting through the OCUD, these universities actively collaborated in its publication, once validated, on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation platform, Info@OD.

University Cooperation for Development Strengths

  • Universities play a vital role in the generation and transmission of knowledge within Spanish cooperation through training and research projects (applied and in collaboration with other participants). They also occupy a privileged position in the essential creation of global, committed and responsible citizens.
  • CUD contributes to enhancing the values of the university community and to generating a culture of solidarity among these institutions.
  • It plays an increasingly important role in University Social Responsibility.
  • It has a significant ability to adapt in crisis situations.
  • CUD fosters stable and solid relationships with partner universities.

The University Cooperation for Development Observatory

In 2007, this Observatory was created by the Cooperation Work Group of the Internationalisation and Cooperation Commission of the Conference of Chancellors of Spanish Universities (CICUE-CRUE), thanks to funding from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. The Observatory serves as a key tool for Spanish universities; it provides a stable structure for regular data collection about activities that qualify as Official Development Assistance, while also creating new cooperation opportunities in areas in which universities are ideally placed to act, such as applied development research, technical support and training, and the development of human capital.

In 2008, the CUD Observatory began to actively fulfil this mission, working towards the following targets:

  • To facilitate the integration of CUD into the Spanish Cooperation system.
  • To enhance the CUD system's knowledge of what is being done in each university and within the university community as a whole to improve cooperation strategy design and coordination. 
  • To standardise different types of CUD activities in line with a single set of mutually agreed guidelines that are compatible with the official criteria used by both the Spanish cooperation system and by international cooperation organisations.
  • To increase the visibility of the potential, resources and work that is carried out by universities in this field. 
  • To integrate, yet not duplicate, various resource management processes and CUD information flows into the Observatory.
  • To boost networking, both between universities and with other cooperation participants.
  • To produce regular reports and facilitate access to CUD-activity research and evaluation.

The Observatory is coordinated by the Chairwomen of the Cooperation Group and is supported by an Advisory Council comprised of professionals from University Cooperation for Development, the CRUE and the government bodies involved in this field.

To learn more

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