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19 September 2018Campus Bilbao

The rector José María Guibert at the opening of the 2018-19 academic year: "Universities must be at the frontiers of knowledge, but also in the trenches of conflicts and social needs"

The University of Deusto inaugurated the new course 2018-2019 on 19 September 2018. During his speech, the rector José María Guibert spoke about the importance of valuing universities, not only for the data and results of qualitative research, but also for the contribution and impact they have on the society.

In his speech, José María Guibert reflected on the different dimensions of the university mission and on what determines if a university is good or fulfills its mission well. The rector indicated that in the last fifteen years the indicators, rankings and accreditations have been multiplied and perfected. The main area of ​​evaluation has been the results of indexed research, which measures the overall contribution made by a university to society. But one thing is the “part” and another is the “whole”. The “part” is one of the missions of the university (generate a type of knowledge). The “whole” is that mission plus others aspects, mainly students’ education and training both as individuals and as citizens, as well as social leadership, that is, the contribution made to society, as an agent that interacts with governments, companies and other organisations.

Research and the search for truth is a social good, and societies increasingly depend on science and technology achievements. The problem, in the opinion of the rector, is not having the appropriate tools and language to measure university’s service and focus on the part, instead of the whole.

The rector explained that there is an international movement to measure (and finance) in another way the scientific activity; since the metrics of the so-called scientific excellence sometimes do not respond to what society demands: transdisciplinary and intersectoral research, collaborative and with impact. In this regard, José María Guibert believes that we are at an interesting crossroads in which we play the future. "The future is to make sense of universities, beyond scientific publications," he said.

For the rector, the conclusion is simple. The university is called not only to advance on knowledge, but to move economies and even create nations" he said. "We must be at the frontiers of knowledge, but also in the trenches of conflicts and social needs”