Rafael Garesse: "The teachers have to return to be teachers."

(Malaga, 1953) Professor of Biochemistry and rector of the Autonomous University of Madrid, an institution that celebrates its 50th anniversary in full technolo

Rafael Garesse:

(Malaga, 1953) Professor of Biochemistry and rector of the Autonomous University of Madrid, an institution that celebrates its 50th anniversary in full technological transformation and education.

In what state of health the university is located Spanish at this time?In a state reasonably well. But it has a lot of improving to meet the challenges that will come up. Tell me the most important challenge ahead for the university...The university has to do professional research at the highest level. That generates high level knowledge and teaching of high quality. And to do that it is necessary to have a lot of talent in the university, good facilities, good infrastructure, good international connections, because there is a lot of competition.Does that also change the way in which it is taught?Yes. The university is an institution that historically has been dedicated to transferring knowledge to young people and to equip them with certain professional capacity. But that knowledge that is transferred each time is going to play a more secondary role. The knowledge is already in many sites outside of the university, whereas before it was a heritage almost exclusive to it. If the existing knowledge is not exclusive to the universities, what should they offer these?Be a social environment where the learning is to have meaning, where young people are formed not only on an academic level and of knowledge, but also values, in leadership, in communication, where you learn to use the knowledge they acquire or that it will eventually acquire in the future. The university will focus on educating citizens. There are studies that indicate that with automation and the technological revolution it may lose 50% of the jobs. How can you adapt the university to the new job market?The changes are so fast that we don't know what capabilities and what professionals you are going to need the day of tomorrow. The university should have a lot of flexibility in offering new studies, but also should enhance values associated with the creativity, because people are enterprising, creative, who know how to work in group and with leadership ability are going to be able to acquire then the knowledge needed to perform almost any task. There you go decreasing content very specific and go to expand knowledge, more transverse, with small tweaks to be able to adapt to the social needs. One of the jobs that they say that more danger is the teacher...Yes. That fear is determined by the online education. It is true that we have developed methodologies and technologies that allow to provide online access to the knowledge imparted by the teachers and professors of the highest level. And in fact, our university is betting in that direction. But the university has to give a value added. A university should be an ecosystem with potent research, innovation centers, centers of coworking, entrepreneurship environment... In other words: a center where they promote the development of creative minds. But the teachers will force that change, isn't it?Clearly we need to transform our teaching methodology, and that change is going to be hard. And the teacher will have to assume increasingly the role of the teacher, which in many cases has been lost. The professor may not be a person that you simply transmit that you routinely know, it has to be a reference to the young, a guide in this ever-changing world of knowledge is overwhelming, and technology evolves at the speed of light. It is necessary to recover the figure of the teacher, and the teacher. As you know that the Imperial College of London has announced that it will begin replacing their teachers by holograms...Probably the Imperial College, a centre of great prestige, is introducing new technologies in the training of their students. But I am absolutely convinced that not as a replacement for their teachers, but as a complement. What is destined to disappear is the university which is limited to transmit knowledge to the students routinely. That has no future. How the sciences will continue to gain weight at the expense of the humanities?We are, and it is normal, fascinated by the advances in technology. But I believe that all education has to be grounded very solidly in the social sciences, and the humanities. And yes that is a value that is almost unique to the universities, something that you cannot find in the technology centres, or any other site. The contribution of humanistic and social sciences to the training of the students is the essence in the university of the future. Is this form of citizenship?Exactly. The university can not give up to be an educational institution. In fact I would love to in the next few years to be able to implement subjects, cross-cutting the humanities and social sciences for all grades that are taught at the Autonomous. How do you imagine the Autonomous University of Madrid within another 50 years?As a major european university. Europe is promoting the creation of consortia of universities that in a few years will allow the full mobility of the faculty, staff, and students. That we will consent to learn from good practices of other academic institutions of first level, to promote the training of european citizens, to promote the multilingualism of our students and to bring out the best capabilities of all the universities that make up these networks. Will a change really disruptive and fascinating. The university will play a very relevant role in the creation of a new Europe and a new Spain. The university to do high level research as you propose costs money...Yes, it costs money. But it is also very cost-effective, because the knowledge that is generated is transferable to the society in a direct way. I proceed from the world of health and medicine, and I'm very clear that when a hospital has a research very powerful the first one who benefits is the patient. And also keep in mind that a high-level research get funding, you can get projects of several million euros. With the crisis in higher education suffered cuts. Resources have not recovered, right?No. The economic situation of the universities is not good, we are well below the average of OECD countries. But much depends on the concept you have of university. If we conceive of the university as a passive entity that merely give classes in a traditional way, likely sources would be sufficient. But a university is not that, a university should be an institution that is very dynamic with a lot of capacity for growth and movement, of mobility of students, teachers, research... And yes that requires a suitable investment. Out of curiosity, where did you study you?In Granada. I am from malaga, but then there was no university in Málaga, so much so that we were going to study in Granada. And what are your memories of your time in college?It was a fantastic time, to the best of my life. It was the first time I had left home, and in addition, Granada is a city that lives much of its university.

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Updated Date: 04 December 2018, 20:01

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