Yes to Bologna

Rafael Puyol. Professor. IE Business School

11 February 2009

Some student sectors are against the Bologna process, claiming it is mercantilist. This is a big mistake, because the future depends on building closer relations among universities and businesses.

A few months ago, at an awards ceremony for prizes given by a bank, I witnessed an angry demonstration by students who were against the application of the new Bologna system. "Enterprise out of university", "no to the commercialisation and privatisation of universities" they shouted. The protests are nothing new, but now that we are approaching the final deadline for starting up the system, they seem to have intensified.

I think the students are right when they say that they have not had enough involvement in the preparation of the new Bologna products, but not when certain groups, not very large by the way, criticise the model with anti-business arguments and condemn the alleged commercialisation of higher education. This type of situation has not arisen in any of the countries that have already adapted to Bologna.

Consequently, my opinion, if I may say this once again, is that Bologna brings a good opportunity to improve university and student training. With Bologna, students will have the opportunity to study new subjects in a way that makes them more central to the process. They will also be able to take in the content, skills, capacities and values that will increase their employability. They will have greater opportunities for moving from one subject and university to another both in and out of Spain. They will receive a more practical education and, if things are done well, it will be of a higher quality. So, where is the problem? It cannot lie in closer links between the university and business worlds. Indeed, quite the opposite. We need a closer relationship between university and business because the latter can offer a great deal of help to institutions that are always in need of funding.

They can offer us options for internships, lend us their professionals and help with research projects. But they will not do so unless we improve the quality of the education and research we offer. If we are capable of offering greater efficiency and greater effectiveness. Consequently, as far as exclusion is concerned, allow me to proffer an alternative chant for the next occasion: "More business at university!".

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