New entrance registrations increase by 3% and the total goes up to 15%04.12.2019The number of new entrance registrations for official study programmes at the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) has increased by 3% in the 2019-2020 academic year. This is the same growth as was recorded last academic year for the bachelor's degree courses at the UVic, UManresa, official master's degrees and doctorates at UVic-UCC, the Professional Campus, students on the blended learning bachelor's degree in Translation, Interpreting and Applied Languages and Speech Therapy offered jointly by the UVic and the UOC, and the BAU, EADA and ESERP affiliated centres. These figures are even better when the percentage of the total number of students registered at the University is taken into account, which this year has risen to 15%, 5 points higher than a year ago. This figure is significant, particularly bearing in mind that this is the first academic year in which all the students at the University now belong to UVic-UCC, five years after the university's federation.
These are some of the registration figures for the 2019-2020 academic year which were presented at midday by the rector of UVic-UCC, Josep-Eladi Baños, accompanied by the directors general of the Balmes University Foundation, the Bages University Foundation, and the director general of the Foundation for Advanced Health Sciences Studies, at a press conference which took place during a lunch at the Rector's Office in Vic. According to Baños, "the registration figures for this academic year maintain the trend of recent years, and confirm that the federation attracts interest, and is an institution that creates appeal among new students."
As Baños explained, there are various reasons for this growth, but there has been a major increase in new entrance registrations for university master's degrees such as those in Montessori Teaching, Teacher Training for Secondary and Higher Secondary Education, Vocational Training and language courses taught on the Vic campus. The Manresa campus also had good registration figures for the master's degrees in Simulation Methodology and Physiotherapy of the Musculoskeletal System. This growth of 5 points compared to the last academic year is also due to the consolidation of study programmes such as Medicine and Automotive Engineering, which this year are entering their third year, and are the focus of growing demand.
Study programmes at the UVic grow even though overall demand drops by 4%
The bachelor's degree programmes on the Vic campus have experienced significant growth in terms of demand as first preferences. 83% of the new students who have registered this year had applied for their studies at Vic as their first choice during pre-registration. This figure is 4 points higher than the equivalent from one year ago. According to the rector, this figure is "qualitative and shows that we are able to attract people. Students come because they want to, and not because we are their second choice." In addition, according to Baños, this figure is even more significant taking into account that the overall demand for the studies taught at the UVic has dropped by 4%. Baños announced that the University is studying the demand for its bachelor's degree programmes, in order to respond by programming new study programmes and course types that will deal with the "educational tsunami that will soon be upon us," in the Rector's ironic description. He said that this review will also include master's degrees and in that respect, he said that "there is no need to worry about a slight decline in bachelor's degrees if registration for master's degrees increases."
In addition, 79% of the places available have been filled, and three courses - Physiotherapy, Automotive Engineering and Physical Education and Sports Sciences - have introduced a minimum entrance grade. The Faculty of Business and Communication Studies has seen a 18% rise in registrations due to the increase in new entrance registrations on bachelor's degrees in business. In the Faculty of Education, Translation and Human Sciences, there was a 12% rise due to an increase in registration on the bachelor's degree programmes in Teaching, Physical Education and Sports Sciences and Psychology, which this year increased the number of places available. The increase in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Welfare was 3%, with a rise in the demand for Physiotherapy degree courses and a consolidation of the bachelor's degree of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, after the blended learning option was introduced. Finally, the Faculty of Science and Technology once again had good results for the bachelor's degree course in Automotive Engineering taught in Granollers, despite the slight decline in other Mechatronics and Multimedia engineering courses.
There continues to be a slight female predominance among new students, 52% of whom are females and 48% males. Some degree courses have a strong masculine presence, such as the engineering courses and Physical Education and Sports Sciences, and women predominate in others, such as Nursing. The three major geographic origins of the students are: Osona, with 20% of the new registrations, Vallès Oriental with 13%, and 11% from France. As for means of access, admissions from high level training cycles (27%) have increased. Entrance after entrance tests is the most common channel, used by 52% of new students.
UManresa slightly increases its total volume of bachelor's degree students
The number of students studying bachelor's degrees on the Manresa campus of UVic-UCC has grown by 4% in the 2019-2020 academic year, to 1,767. New entrance registrations have remained stable, with a slight decline attributable to the decision to limit new students on the Nursing and Physiotherapy courses to ensure students receive adequate attention. All the places on these two courses have been filled. A minimum entrance grade has also been applied for entrance to the Physiotherapy course.
One of the distinctive features of the Manresa campus is its strong contingent of international students. 36% come from outside Spain. Most of these come from France. French students come to the capital of the Bages region to study Physiotherapy (they account for 67% of the students on this bachelor's degree course), and to study the double bachelor's degree in Podiatry and Physiotherapy (where they are 58% of the students choosing this double degree). There is also a significant community of Italian students, especially on the bachelor's degree in Podiatry.
Despite the considerable presence of foreign students, the Manresa campus also has plenty of students from the surrounding area: 22% are from the Bages region. Other Catalan regions sending significant numbers of students to UManresa are Vallès Occidental and Baix Llobregat (with 5% each).
The majority of students who are new entrants at the Manresa campus are women (68%). However, the distribution by sex is not uniform in all the bachelor's degree courses. As a result, the number of men and women on Business Administration and Management courses is equal at 50%, while on the Pre-School Teaching and Speech Therapy courses, women account for 96% and 94% of the respective totals. Men are also more common on the degree course in Physiotherapy, although the proportion is more balanced (53%). 61% of the students who have joined this course on the Manresa campus did so through upper secondary school education and the university entrance examination. Meanwhile, one in four were admitted from an advanced level specific vocational training course. The importance of this means of access varies depending on the studies involved. As a result, it is particularly significant in the degree course in Pre-School Teaching and Nursing, where it is the access route for 48% and 44% of the new registrations respectively.
The Faculty of Medicine starts teaching at the units in Vic and Manresa
This academic year, the third in the bachelor's degree course in Medicine, has seen teaching start in Manresa and Vic at the teaching units launched in the two cities. The director general of the Bages University Foundation (FUBages), Valentí Martínez, believes that the new teaching unit is another step in the development of this bachelor's degree course, which is the result of "the collaboration between the two foundations. Without the federation agreement, we would not currently be talking about this project or these spaces."
New entrance registrations have increased significantly, as well as total registrations, it was the first choice of 107 students, and a total of 700 people applied for the course. Half of the new students are from Catalonia, and the rest come from the Balearic Islands, Valencia, Andalusia and Portugal. 78% are women and the minimum entrance grade was 11.798. As for the teaching staff, according to the director general of the Foundation for Advanced Health Sciences Studies (FESS), Marina Geli, the Faculty has succeeded in "keeping its talent loyal by recruiting professionals who work as lecturers. 67% are from the surrounding area and 20 of them are heads of service." They are all implementing a model "linked to the humanisation of the profession of doctor, with technology at the centre of the learning process."
Strategic projects on the two campuses
The director general of the Balmes University Foundation (FUBalmes), Joan Turró, outlined the main projects for investments and facilities. One of these is the Beta Technology Centre's move to Can Baumann, to make part of that facility into "a scientific-technical campus that fosters a symbiosis between the University and industrial facilities." The project, which will cost two million euros and will occupy 1,500 square metres, is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
As for the health campus that is to be located in Prat de Galliners, Turró predicted that it will not be completed within the next 6 years, as "it is necessary to give careful consideration to its uses and its needs." A project that is going to start in the near future is the construction of the RUVIC 2, a second university residence promoted by a private owner in partnership with the University, which will provide 300 places on the Carretera de Roda road, very close to the Faculty of Medicine.
Another of the major projects that could open late next year is the University's Auditorium in the old church of the Hospital de la Santa Creu. With a capacity for almost 300 people, "it will be available for use by both the university and by the city."
Turró also discussed the figures in the transparency ranking, in which UVic-UCC was once again rated the most transparent university in Spain's entire system for the fourth consecutive year, and this year it did not share the position. According to the director general, "this is an outstanding achievement that is the result of a demand from the community, and which is managed and governed by a committee without any management representatives."
In Manresa, an investment of one million Euros has enabled the extension of the CISARC, the simulation innovation centre, and has improved its technological facilities. Located on the second floor of the University Clinic, it covers 1,000 m2 and has 8 complete simulation units which can generate more than 50 different scenarios and work with a total of 120 participants simultaneously. This is one of the main new features for the 2019-2020 academic year at UManresa, which as emphasised by Valentí Martínez, director general of the Bages University Foundation, "completes and reinforces the campus's commitment to simulation as a learning methodology in its entire range of bachelor's degree, postgraduate and master's degree courses, as well as training cycles and continuous training for professionals." Other commitments in this area which have taken shape in recent years include the University Master's Degree in Simulation Methodology, the Chair in Simulation and Patient Safety and the Interinstitutional Research Group on Educational Innovation, Simulation and Patient Safety (GRInDoSSeP).
Other important lines of work at the Manresa campus during this academic year are the exploration of the possibilities of blended learning for Health Sciences bachelor's degree programmes, and the Podiatry degree in particular, and the implementation of training tracks that enhance the synergies between the higher vocational training cycles on the Professional Campus and bachelor's degree programmes. Students who will be graduating this year as Senior Specialists in Pre-School Teaching or Administration and Finance at the UManresa professional campus may complete their training with a bachelor's degree in Pre-School Teaching or BMA respectively, lasting only 3 years. Meanwhile, the consolidation of various relationships with Latin America is also an objective for this academic year. A new Master's Degree in Dependence Care Attention will be launched, which will be carried out in partnership with San Sebastian University in Chile. Likewise, UVic-UCC has recently accepted the vice-presidency of the Continuing Education Network for Latin America and Europe (RECLA), which according to Valentí Martínez "will provide the framework for a very close relationship with more than 120 Latin American universities for three years."
About 800 students will study plastic pollution in rivers with a BETA CT project03.12.2019The use and commercialisation of disposable plastics has increased significantly in recent decades. These plastics are difficult to manage after they have been used and converted to waste, and as a result they are now scattered across the environment, with harmful effects on ecosystems and biodiversity all over the world, and a particular impact on aquatic ecosystems. In fact, estimates suggest that 80% of the plastic materials that reach the sea originate on land, and they are transported directly into the sea by river networks. This is the context in which the BETA Technology Centre (Biodiversity, Ecology and Technology and Environmental and Food Management) has launched the "Fishermen of Plastic", which will investigate plastic pollution in three Catalan rivers, and involve children and young people in the research.
The main objective of "Fishermen of Plastic" is to promote teaching of the scientific method to children and young people between the fifth year of primary school and the second year of secondary school, using a "real but not very widely known" environmental problem, says Meritxell Abril, a researcher at the CT BETA and the joint coordinator of the project, with Lorenzo Proia, who is also a researcher at the Centre. "Although a great deal has been said about the problem of plastics in our oceans, plastic waste pollution in rivers, and the rivers' role providing transportation to the sea is much less widely known," explains April. For this reason, in the project the students will be working alongside CT BETA researchers throughout the entire scientific process, "from establishing the hypotheses, through the field work and sampling, to the final data analysis."
19 schools and 789 students from the Tordera, Fluvià and Baix Ter river basins
This first edition of the project will work on three small river basins, which according to Meritxell Abril, "are very different in terms of their hydrological characteristics, land uses and the presence of industry": they are the lower Tordera river, which is dry, the Fluvià river, which has many small weirs and a continuous flow, and the lower Ter, with its large reservoirs at the beginning of the river.
Nineteen schools from the areas near the basins of the three rivers in the project (7 in the Tordera basin, 7 in the Fluvià and 5 in the lower Ter) are already participating in "Fishermen of Plastic." A total of 789 students (246 from primary schools and 543 from secondary schools) will be taking part in this citizen science initiative. These schools are located in the regions of the Vallès Oriental (in Santa Maria de Palautordera and Sant Celoni), Maresme (in Tordera and Malgrat de Mar), Garrotxa (in Olot, Besalú, Les Preses and Argelaguer), Baix Empordà (in Verges, Ullà and Torroella de Montgrí), Gironès (in Celrà and Medinyà) and La Selva (in Hostalric and Breda).
The students will be working in the classroom throughout this academic year, using a series of activities developed by researchers at the CT BETA. They will finish their work in April with a single field sampling session, which will involve all the schools simultaneously on a single day on different river stretches, using the sampling kit and the instructions provided by the research centre. The project will conclude with a scientific congress at the UVic in early June, where both students and researchers will present the results obtained.
"Fishermen of Plastic" organised workshops linked to the project to mark Science Week at UVic-UCC in November. A total of 172 students between the fifth year of primary school and the second year of secondary school received theoretical training and took part in sampling in the Mèder River to detect plastic waste there, and to classify it both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Teaching on the scientific method and environmental education
"The entire project is focused on education, on both the scientific method and the environmental problems of plastic pollution in rivers," says Meritxell Abril, who nevertheless "expects to obtain high quality data" which enable "a detailed mapping of the quantity and distribution of plastics in the three basins." " Fishermen of Plastic" is inspired by the Scientists of Garbage project, which began in Chile and is taking place in several countries in South America, with the help of the CT BETA. It can be extrapolated to other rivers in Catalonia in future editions.
The project is being carried out in collaboration with the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) of the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities. The grant is part of the latest call for the promotion of scientific, technological and innovation culture.
A problem on the increase
Since plastic began to be produced in the 1950s, 8.3 billion tonnes have been manufactured around the world. In fact, beverage manufacturers alone generate more than 500 billion bottles of disposable plastic every year. Production amounted to 60 million tonnes in Europe alone in 2016, and Spain was the fourth-ranked country in the European Union in terms of the demand for plastic in that year, and 50% of it ended up in landfills. Far from declining, the figures are on the increase, and estimates suggest that the threshold of 500 million tonnes of plastic worldwide every year will be surpassed for the first time by 2020, which would mean levels 900% higher than those of 40 years ago.
"In recent years, people have become increasingly aware of the scale of this problem in environmental terms, especially as regards the negative effects of plastics on marine fauna," says Meritxell Abril, who believes that "the population that is informed about this issue is increasing." Nevertheless, the CT BETA researcher says that "not enough emphasis is being placed on the sources of the plastic in the sea, and particularly on the role of rivers in this process and its harmful effects for freshwater ecosystems." Abril believes that there is a need for "more scientific studies that quantify the accumulation and distribution of plastic waste in river basins, and which analyse the role of rivers as transporters of these long-lasting pollutants to the sea."
Sergio Ponsá: "The BETA aims to carry out high quality research aimed at the surrounding area, rather than grow in resources"14.11.2019The BETA Technology Centre (Biodiversity, Ecology and Technology, and Environmental and Food Management) at the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) has experienced exponential growth in just five years, since its inauguration on 14 November 2014. From initial revenues amounting to less than 200,000 euros, it will end 2019 with more than 1.3 million euros, and more than 2 million euros are forecast for 2020. The centre allocates these sums to "increasingly higher quality science, research and innovation," based on criteria of environmental sustainability, and work in the fields of the food industry and the environment.
These developments were presented this morning by Sergio Ponsá, director of the BETA Technology Centre, at the press conference held at the UVic-UCC Rector's Office to mark the research centre's fifth anniversary. "Our aim is not to grow in terms of numbers, but to consolidate our centre's model and high quality research that brings competitiveness and benefits to the surrounding area," Ponsá explained, and said that "quantitative growth is a consequence of the work done" in three fields of expertise: the development of environmental technologies and sustainability; the mitigation of ecological impacts and the conservation of aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity; and agrarian and agro-industrial systems.
In terms of its personnel, the centre began with 2 doctors and 3 technicians, and today its team amounts to 40 people, of whom 22 are doctors. Just over half of this team consists of people from Catalonia, while the rest come from elsewhere in Spain and other countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, as well as the United States.
According to Ponsá, the keys to these achievements have been undertaking in "highly competitive research that is focused on the real needs of society, which has positioned us internationally, which means we are able to innovate in the territory, with local companies and institutions," with which "it is important to have a relationship of trust because they can genuinely convey the real needs of each sector."
Participation in fifteen European projects and coordinators of five
One of the goals of the CT BETA over the past five years has been to "establish links and create a powerful working network" with leading European organisations, institutions and companies in their areas of expertise. This has led it to participate in a total of 15 European research projects in leading programmes including Horizon 2020, Life, Interreg and ENI CBC MED, and it has acted as coordinator in five of them.
Some of these projects were outlined at this morning's press conference, such as Life DEMINE, which has a total budget of 2,184,632 euros, and aims to address "the problems of environmental pollution, especially in rivers, caused by abandoned salt and metal mines by developing an innovative technology based on membrane and electrocoagulation processes", explained the deputy director of the CT BETA, Laia Llenas. "The results of the project could provide possible solutions to the environmental and ecological impacts of salt and potash mines in Central Catalonia."
The technology centre's projects also include the ENI CBC MED DECOST, which is now being launched with a total budget of more than 3 million euros. Its objective is to implement "a new management framework for urban organic waste, involving community composting systems integrated with urban agriculture" and to "close the management cycle of this fraction in municipalities." The project, involving countries located along the entire Mediterranean coast, will have two pilot tests in Osona.
The press conference also presented the project H2020 FERTIMANURE (8,419,670 million euros), in which BETA is coordinating 21 partners in order to "develop, integrate, test and validate new strategies for recovering nutrients from livestock manure, to obtain tailor-made biological fertilisers that can compete in today's fertilisers market"; and Interreg MED Green Growth," a thematic community of 14 projects promoting sustainable development in the Mediterranean, which recently received recognition from the Union for the Mediterranean."
In Catalonia, the CT BETA is a member of the TECNIO Catalonia network, has 15 knowledge transfer projects under way in the country (which amounts to more than 50 over the past 5 years), is involved in several clusters, and works with five ministries of the Government of Catalonia, as well as with other Catalan government bodies. Based on these figures, Sergio Ponsá acknowledged that "when we started, we could not in our wildest dreams have imagined reaching the point we are at now, and particularly in such a short time."
The spearhead for research at UVic-UCC
The vice-rector for Research and Knowledge Transfer at UVic-UCC, Jordi Collet, explained that the creation of the BETA in 2014 was the result of a "very clear commitment but also an uncertain one, to the research that the University did a decade ago and which has provided very good results." Today (in the 2018-2019 academic year), the BETA Technology Centre accounts for 54% of the competitive funds obtained by the institution in research. The vice-rector emphasised "its major territorial impact, which enables UVic-UCC to support and contribute to addressing important and worrying challenges in the territory, such as climate change and the management of water and slurry."
UVic-UCC is organising a symposium on the environmental impact of abandoned mines on aquatic ecosystems11.11.2019Effluents from abandoned mines may contain high concentrations of heavy metals or salts, which leak through the soil and end up in rivers, where they have a significant impact on the biodiversity and functioning of those ecosystems. The primary objective of the LIFE DEMINE European project, coordinated by the BETA Technology Centre of the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) is to reduce the impact of these mining effluents by means of a new treatment that will be applied before they reach the river. As part of this project, the research centre is organising a multidisciplinary symposium to address this environmental problem.
The symposium on "Abandoned mines and aquatic ecosystems: the current situation, environmental impacts and possible treatments" will take place in the Segimon Serrallonga hall at the Masia Torre dels Frares on the Vic campus, from 9 am to 2.30 pm on Wednesday 13 November. The morning session will consist of a dozen talks that address three major issues: the current situation and public management of abandoned mines; environmental impacts on aquatic ecosystems; and possible treatments for pollutant mining effluents. The speakers will be representatives of government bodies, scientists and technicians from water treatment companies from all over Spain and Europe.
Attendance at the symposium is free, but registration through the project's website is required before 10 November. The website also contains detailed information on the programme of the event. The activity is aimed above all at environmental managers, researchers and specialist technicians.
A new treatment to reduce environmental impacts
The LIFE DEMINE project, which began in 2017 and will continue until 2021, aims to demonstrate that reducing the overall environmental impact of abandoned mines on aquatic ecosystems is technically and economically viable. To that end, it is developing an innovative and versatile treatment process involving technologies based on membranes and electrocoagulation, with the overall aim of obtaining final effluents that are non-polluting.
Using this new method, the water will first be treated with a membrane system which has different filtration capacities, and therefore different capacities for retaining contaminating particles. The aim of the process is to concentrate the polluting effluent, which subsequently undergoes an electrocoagulation process, which will lead to an even higher level of concentration. In overall terms, the system will reduce the salt and metal content of mining effluents by more than 95%, obtaining treated water that can be poured into the river with no risk to the ecosystem, complying with the legal limits established by legislation and ensuring a low level of environmental impact. So far, the proposed technology has been tested in the laboratory, and obtained very promising results. The pilot plant is currently being prepared, and is going to come into operation in the coming months in an abandoned mine in Wales, which generates effluents with high concentrations of heavy metals.
The objective is to demonstrate and validate the success of the solution, so that it can be easily replicated in any environment with the same environmental problem. For example, in Catalonia there are the salt and potash mines at Cardona, Súria and Sallent, with environments that are severely affected by this problem, where an efficient solution is urgently needed. There are also numerous cases of abandoned mines elsewhere in Spain, such as the coal mines in Asturias. There are currently around 3,460 closed and abandoned facilities containing mining waste in the European Union, according to figures from the European Commission.
Life DEMINE has received European Union funding through its Life programme, and has an overall budget of 2,184,632 Euros. Four other partners as well as the BETA Technology Centre are involved: the University of Swansea (United Kingdom), ELENTEC LTD, a company specialising in water treatment technologies (United Kingdom), the Groundwater Studies Centre in Dresden (Germany), and the Government of the Principality of Asturias(Spain).
Download the detailed programme of the symposium
A study identifies knowledge gaps crucial for addressing the causes of biodiversity loss08.11.2019International sustainability policies establish clear goals for protecting ecosystems and biodiversity, but in practice it is difficult to achieve those objectives, and the loss of biodiversity continues to be a source of major concern. This context is the starting point for a new study published last Monday by the scientific journal Nature Sustainability, which identifies the need for greater understanding of environmental governance, institutional arrangements and the feedbacks between social and ecological systems, in order to overcome the loss of biodiversity.
The project was led by Matias Mastrangelo, researcher at the National University of Mar del Plata in Argentina, and is also authored by Elisa Oteros-Rozas, a Juan de la Cierva researcher of the Chair in Agroecology and Food Systems at the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC). The new study, carried out by an international team of 32 experts, identifies the main knowledge gaps that must be addressed to deal with the fundamental causes of the loss of biodiversity, and calls for research aimed at finding solutions to the socio-ecological crisis.
To that end, it discusses seven recent assessments made by the scientific-regulatory body IPBES, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. These evaluations "summarise our current knowledge about the relationship between society and nature, including the role of people in the management of ecosystems to provide benefits to people," explains Elisa Oteros-Rozas. According to the researcher, the IPBES reports are "a critical tool for information, for both formulating evidence-based policies and establishing scientific research agendas."
The authors compared the knowledge gaps identified in the IPBES reports with the key international sustainability goals established by the United Nations in order to achieve the Aichi Targets for Biological Biodiversity, agreed in 2010 within the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Effective, fair and inclusive strategies
"We found that global sustainability goals cannot be achieved without improved knowledge on feedbacks between social and ecological systems, and on effective governance systems and institutions that can equitably deliver ecosystem services and protect vulnerable people," explains Matias Mastrangelo. The director of the study says that "we need to identify management and policy strategies for ecosystems and biodiversity that are effective, just, inclusive and promote good quality of life."
The analysis concludes that "some progress has been made to remedy the knowledge gaps previously identified in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005, including a better understanding of the long-term trends in ecological change," explains Oteros-Rozas. However, "some knowledge gaps persist after decades of research, and new ones have emerged."
"We've made great strides forward in global assessments. But the most urgent research gap hasn't changed since 2005: we need effective strategies to meet our sustainability goals," adds the co-author Elena Bennett, a lecturer at the McGill School of Environment (Canada). "In this latest assessment, the role of indigenous and local knowledge to sustain nature's benefits to people has emerged as a key knowledge gap," explains Bennett, who says that "now we need to get those with deep expertise in social change and governance to the table, including local actors and decision makers."
New ways of assessing human welfare and the protection of biodiversity
The assessment by the IPBES reflects a growing consensus on the need for new ways of assessing both human welfare and the protection of biodiversity. Kimberly Nicholas, another of the authors and a lecturer in sustainability studies at the University of Lund (Sweden), points out that "mark an paradigm emerging shift: the emphasis we found on the importance of human values and institutions puts people at the heart of nature protection," which is why "we need new ways to value human and natural well-being, beyond defining a good life based just on gross domestic product."
Finally, the authors argue that the knowledge gaps they have identified must be an important contribution to the new global biodiversity goals to be adopted in the United Nations Framework Convention on Biodiversity by 2020. "All the actors involved must urgently focus on improving knowledge about the gaps identified, especially in regions where it is currently lacking," says Natalia Pérez-Harguindeguy, a lecturer at the Universidad Nacional in Córdoba (Argentina) and a co-author of the study. "The future of humanity depends on how we respond to the current socio-ecological crisis," he concludes.
Study: "Key knowledge gaps to achieve global sustainability goals" in Nature Sustainability (DOI: 10.1038/s41893-019-0412-1)
The UVic-UCC University Senate endorses the manifesto ratified by some universities rejecting the sentencing of the Spanish Supreme Court04.11.2019The University Senate of the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) has voted to endorse the joint manifesto of some Catalan universities rejecting the convictions of Catalan political prisoners and the judicialisation of politics, with 223 votes in favour, 10 votes against and 8 blank ballots. The text of the manifesto, which was presented to the Board of Governors by the representative of the Administrative and Service Staff (ASS), Josep Bisquert, states that it is impossible for the university as an institution to remain silent "in view of the current situation of repression and erosion of freedoms and civil rights," calls for the "immediate release of people who have been unfairly convicted, and the return of those in exile," and expresses support for "civic and peaceful demonstrations" in favour of civil rights and freedom for those who have been convicted.
The manifesto, which recalls that the statutes of universities advocate "freedom, democracy, justice, equality and solidarity," also rejects repression and police violence, and expresses the conviction that "in a mature democratic culture, dialogue is the only way to resolve conflicts and political differences."
This manifesto was issued after the Board of the Rectorate issued a statement on Tuesday, which expressed its "disagreement" with the convictions, and which also called upon all those involved to "create a space for dialogue based on trust, to solve a problem that should never have left the political arena." Last Friday, the Board of the Rector's Office and the Deans of UVic-UCC agreed to provide flexible conditions for students in terms of compulsory attendance and activities subject to assessment until 10 November.
Alícia Casals - the new ombudswoman
The University Senate, which met on Tuesday afternoon in the Aula Magna at UVic, also approved the candidacy of the lecturer of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) Alícia Casals as the new ombudswoman, replacing the current Ombudsman, Antoni Serra Ramoneda, who had held the position since 2013. The Board of Trustees of the Balmes University Foundation will now appoint her at its next meeting.
Meanwhile, Ana Palomo, a lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Communication Studies (FEC), and Lluís Jurada, of the ICT Area, will be the new representatives of the teaching and research staff on the Board of Trustees of the Balmes University Foundation and of the administrative and service staff on the Board of Governors of UVic-UCC, respectively, replacing Ángel Torres and Josep Bisquert, who have completed their terms.
In his opening speech, the rector Josep-Eladi Baños described the main projects and objectives in the areas of research, teaching, teaching staff and governance for the 2019-2020 academic year. As regards governance, he stressed the importance of the imminent approval of the new Organisational and Operational Regulations (OOR) agreed upon by the Balmes and Bages University Foundations, in order to "bring the community together and foster integrated actions between the two foundations."
The ninth R+D+I ICT Health and Social Seminars will feature more than 20 multidisciplinary speakers who are leaders in virtual and augmented reality17.10.2019El Sucre building in Vic will host the ninth R+D+I ICT Health and Social Seminar, the fourth to be held in the capital of the Osona region, which is entitled "Virtual and augmented reality: the technology that is transforming the present". The UVic-UCC and the ITC Health Social Foundation, with other healthcare institutions, are organising seminars over the coming days that are expected to be attended by more than 170 people, and most of them are healthcare and technology professionals. This year, the theme will be virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), which is becoming another major technology in the healthcare field. Unlike previous years, registration is free, and must be arranged by 20 October via the following link.
The seminars will once again last one day, and aim to highlight the utilities and potential of VR/AR applied to health, to present projects that are already under way in various healthcare institutions all over the country, and to create a forum for dialogue between health professionals, companies and government bodies to assess how virtual reality can be incorporated in this field. The Seminars are also a leading platform for knowledge transfer, which contributes to aligning the fields of research and innovation, business and healthcare for convergence on solutions with greater added value. According to Marina Geli, director of the Centre for Health and Social Care Research at the UVic-UCC, "these seminars give added value to the territory, to the Catalan health sector, to teaching and businesses in an area that is not a window on the future, but is in fact the present reality."
Seminars with leading professionals
The seminars will begin at 9 am with the speech by the General Secretary of the Ministry of Health of the Government of Catalonia, Laura Pelay, the rector of the UVic-UCC, Josep-Eladi Baños, and a representative of Vic Town Council. This will be followed by a presentation by the Catalan Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Health interest group, an initiative which according to the corporate development director of the ITC Health and Social Foundation and coordinator of the ITC Social Health Chair at the UVic-UCC, Sílvia Cufí, "aims to lay the foundations for promoting technologies in this field and evaluating how to apply them to health, so that the majority of the stakeholders in the territory can actively participate. In short, we want to bring together the various initiatives, professionals and managers in order to join forces and foster innovation among the different institutions in the ecosystem in order to examine how to implement them all over the country in a sustainable and integrated way."
This will be followed by the first framework lecture, which is entitled "Immersive Experiences in the Health and Social Sector: Present and Future," and will be given by Xavi Conesa and Jaume Vaccaro, from the company Visyon 360. This is a leading company in conducting scientific research to understand the workings of the brain using virtual reality and from there, designing practical solutions to improve health. The company is also working on social innovation projects to make positive changes to society in health, education and the environment, among other areas.
The application of virtual reality in the major Catalan hospitals
The Seminars, which will be led by the journalist Núria Jar, will also present solutions for the practical application of VR and AR in Catalan health institutions, involving projects by Sant Joan de Déu Hospital, the Consorci Sanitari Integral, the Hospital Clínic in Barcelona, Parc Taulí, Vall d'Hebron Hospital and the Guttmann Institute. The lecture on "Augmented Reality vs. Virtual reality," by Jordi Boza from EyeTechLab, will show us the differences between the two technologies, and the advantages and/or disadvantages of working with each one. For example, EyeTechLab works with Sony, supplying its technology in augmented reality devices.
In the afternoon, there will be a second framework lecture entitled "How 5G will impact on VR/AR." This presentation will be given by Sergi Figuerola of i2CAT and the 5GBCN project, a public-private initiative that is working to transform the Barcelona metropolitan area into an open laboratory across the entire city for validating and adopting 5G technologies. He will be joined by Dr Borja de Lacy, a surgeon at the Hospital Clínic and member of AIS Channel, a company working on telecare, i.e. remote mentoring or care. The final activity in the seminars will be the public-private Dialogues on "From the clinical need to collaboration with the start-up", with the experience of the spin-off project leaders Virtual Bodyworks, Nixi for Children, Psious and Biel Glasses. The institutional closing ceremony of this ninth seminar will take place at 5.30 pm.
The UVic-UCC is organising the seminars through the ITC Health and Social Chair, promoted by the ICT Social Health Foundation and the UVic-UCC, linked to the Centre for Health and Social Care Research (CESS), as well as the ICT Social Health Foundation, the Hospital Consortium of Vic, the Catalan Health Institute, the Santa Creu de Vic Hospital Foundation, the EBA Vic, the EBA Centelles and the Althaia Foundation. Other partners include the Government of Catalonia, Vic Town Council, the Chair in Social Services and the Faculty of Medicine of the UVic-UCC, COPLEFEC, M4Social and the committee of third sector institutions in Catalonia as strategic partners, and the technical office of the Osona Foundation for Health Research and Education (FORES). Finally, the event is sponsored by companies including SEIDOR, the seminar's platinum sponsor, and other companies such as ISERN, Lenovo, Athenea Solutions (MedXat), who will also be participating.
Statement by the Board of the Rector's Office of UVic-UCC15.10.2019At its meeting today, on Tuesday 15 October, the Board of the Rector's Office of University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC), wishes to express its disagreement with the ruling of the Spanish Supreme Court. It regrets that prison sentences have been the response to a problem that is of a political rather than a legal nature. It would also like to express its sympathy and solidarity with the imprisoned political and social leaders and their families, and its support for our colleague, Meritxell Borràs, who has also been the victim of the arbitrary nature of the judges' decisions.
UVic-UCC is made up of people with diverse ideological perspectives where respect and the defence of dialogue and confrontation of ideas prevails above all else. The value of words for knowledge and the development of critical reasoning are also fostered by all of its governing bodies. Accordingly, it calls on all those concerned to create a space for dialogue with trust, in order to resolve a problem that should never have left the political arena.