| 4 minute read

Exploring industry integration at Universidad Camilo José Cela

Madeline Arkins

As one of the youngest and most rapidly expanding private universities in Europe, our new Initiator member Universidad Camilo Jose Cela (UCJC), established in 2000 as part of the SEK Education Group, offers a valuable perspective for examining the strategies of industry engagement adopted by emerging academic institutions. Based in Madrid with a core mission dedicated to societal service through the training and preparation of professionals to meet evolving workforce demands, UCJC places industry engagement at the forefront of its educational agenda. We had the pleasure of speaking with Hector Escamilla, Rector of UCJC to discuss the importance of industry engagement at different touchpoints of higher education, exploring the associated challenges and aspirations.

What are UCJC’s goals in terms of university-industry engagement?

Coming from a background where universities collaborate closely with industry, I firmly believe that universities enrich themselves through interaction with industry. This collaboration is crucial because it directly impacts our students and alumni who will eventually join the workforce. As a university, our primary focus should be on nurturing our students, ensuring they develop the proper skills to flourish both as human beings and also in the job market. It’s also essential to address the needs of all stakeholders involved – students, parents, and industry partners.

A KPI in higher education is the successful transition of students into the job market, whether as employees or entrepreneurs. I believe universities should focus on achieving this indicator. Maintaining a close relationship with industry stakeholders, involving them in advisory boards and faculty interactions, is vital for aligning our educational offerings with current and future industry needs. This engagement enables us to understand industry requirements and make necessary adjustments to our curriculum; the same goes for research.

Research conducted within the university should be closely linked to industry needs and real-world applications. Integrating industry experiences into the student journey, through internships, apprenticeships, and laboratory work, enhances their understanding and prepares them for the challenges of the professional world.

What’s the next step in deepening or expanding partnerships?

I believe we need to amplify our efforts by intensifying conversations and expanding industry involvement within the university. While we already benefit from industry board members, I propose increasing the presence of industry advisors within specific faculties and colleges to further enhance our engagement.

In today’s digital age, you can access free educational content everywhere, making practical experience even more valuable. So the most valuable to bring into the classroom, is people with real-world experience, people who have already solved problems that can inspire young minds to inquire and innovate. Looking ahead, I envision a future where we intensify our collaboration not only with industry but also with stakeholders from government, non-governmental organisations, and various sectors of society. Many countries are growing quickly because of the culture of entrepreneurship—people coming up with new ideas within existing companies and starting their own ventures. I believe we’ll be speeding up efforts to develop people who want to start their own small businesses, and someday even big businesses.

What’s your biggest bottleneck to achieving these goals?

One challenge is simply increasing the intensity of our efforts. If you’re already doing something well, the key is to keep doing it, right? We intend to provide more incentives for industry professionals to join our faculty as lecturers. While this is already happening, we aim to intensify these efforts even further.

Hector Escamilla 

Hector Escamilla
If you want to know more about UCJC, contact Hector Escamilla via email.

Ready for more?

If you enjoyed this article, check out the Case Study collection: Fostering talent through education partnerships or our Strategic Partnerships podcast episode KNOVA: A one-stop-shop for collaboration.

Lauren Kroemer-Pope (interviewer) is the Outreach and Partnerships Specialist at UIIN.

Madeline Arkins (author) is a Project Officer at UIIN. In her work she focuses on topics relating to social impact and innovation in regional ecosystems.

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