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Rector Ramírez highlights the loyalty of the University of Barcelona towards the people and institutions in Catalonia at the opening ceremony for the academic year 2016-2017

The opening lecture, entitled "Medicina i literatura, una parella de fet", was given by Amàlia Lafuente, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

The opening lecture, entitled "Medicina i literatura, una parella de fet", was given by Amàlia Lafuente, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Concepció Amat, Professor at the Department of Physiology of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Science, received the Jaume Vicens Vives Distinction for university teaching quality.

Concepció Amat, Professor at the Department of Physiology of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Science, received the Jaume Vicens Vives Distinction for university teaching quality.

The event was chaired by Carles Puigdemont, President of Generalitat de Catalunya.

The event was chaired by Carles Puigdemont, President of Generalitat de Catalunya.

Moment of thre Rector's speech, Dídac Ramírez.

Moment of thre Rector's speech, Dídac Ramírez.

Joan Corominas, current President of the Board of Trustees of the UB, during his speech.

Joan Corominas, current President of the Board of Trustees of the UB, during his speech.

During the event, University of Barcelona medals were given to retired professors from last year, among whom there were the current president of IEC, Joandomènec Ros.

During the event, University of Barcelona medals were given to retired professors from last year, among whom there were the current president of IEC, Joandomènec Ros.

the Rector received a medal for his retirement.

the Rector received a medal for his retirement.

Medals were also given to the administration and service staff who retired last year.

Medals were also given to the administration and service staff who retired last year.

During the event, representatives of PAS assembly, the Work Council and Workers Commissionsr entered the Paranimph with banners and read two manifestos.

During the event, representatives of PAS assembly, the Work Council and Workers Commissionsr entered the Paranimph with banners and read two manifestos.

07/09/2016

Acadèmic

The Paranimph in the Historic Building of the University of Barcelona held the opening ceremony for the Catalan university system academic year 2016-2017. The opening lecture, entitled "Medicina i literatura, una parella de fet", was given by Amàlia Lafuente, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine and Health sciences.

The event was chaired by the President of Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, who, bringing back some thoughts by Pere Bosch i Gimpera —previously mentioned by the rector, and in reference to the current political context, stated that "Recognition is a legitimate aspiration which goes further than political agreements". "Without recognition —the President highlighted- there is no chance of agreement". "Spain is not there for us and we are not expecting much”, added, but “there are still some opportunities". "Opportunities cannot be ruled out at the university-he insisted".

Puigdemont made a skills audit by the Catalan Government regarding the university over the last thirty years and recognized the work done by the universities. Regarding this period of time, he highlighted the increase in university figures (from three to twelve), students (from 120.000 to 250.000), teachers in public universities (from 6.000 to 16.000), doctoral dissertations per year (from 300 to 2.000) and the average student investment (from 4.000 to 10.000 euros). "Over the years –the President added-, the image of privilege linked to university studies has changed and it overcame the social and territorial divisions, so now the university system moves towards equity".

According to his words, talent recruitment and retention —through contract programs Serra Húnter and ICREA— placed the Catalan university in a respectable position with international recognition, which hadn’t happened before, but it is necessary to improve, by making a "shared and agreed effort". Firstly, putting together a coherent and flexible study offer which has to be internationally attractive, with enough courage to make any necessary changes. Regarding the university access model, Puigdemont stated that "under no circumstances can we allow the imposition of a state revalidation (final exams) which prevents us from assessing what we teach". Regarding university funding, social tariff structure and scholarships he noted that there is an academic team studying the price policy and scholarship system. "Means are not unlimited –he said- and it is necessary to allocate them efficiently". "The standardizing vision of the State is a threat to our way of decision-making", he concluded.
Puigdemont’s last words served to highlight the nation strengths –among which there were the universities- and which have to be promoted: "in this historic moment, which is decisive for the country, we want to make the most of the valuable resource of higher education and research for our people and be part of the countries that support knowledge revolution as it happened centuries ago with the Industrial Revolution".

 

"Loyal to the Catalan people"

In one of his last interventions as rector of the University of Barcelona, Dídac Ramírez started his speech remembering the speech of the former rector Pere Bosch Gimpera on the opening ceremony of the academic year 1937-1938 at the University of Valencia, a conference entitled "Espanya" in which the republican rector defended getting beyond an existing orthodox Spain conception for a project which accepted the existence of a set of varied populations that "political superstructures had always hidden".

The Rector Ramírez used Bosch i Gimpera to welcome the new academic year for the students and remind them that "national height in Catalonia is strictly linked to the university state". "The more linked to Catalonia, the stronger it has become", he said.
When reviewing the current political situation, Ramírez noted that, linguistic crisis and "strong words and poverty of speech" have been added to the representation crisis taking place in many fields. "Facing the rumours of a possible application of the article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, and still hit by the attitude in the judicial year, the University of Barcelona, using the university autonomy, will remain loyal to the people and institutions in Catalonia" he stated. "The mission of the university is that reason corrects the results according to tradition".

Regarding the publication of the new edition of one of the most important rankings worldwide, the QS World University Rankings 2016-2017, which place the University of Barcelona on top of the list regarding the Spanish system, Ramírez said: "The Catalan university is a powerful institution on research, and with faculty quality recognition", and also "a social and cultural agent" of first order. Lastly, the rector ended saying that "university is essential to guarantee a future of progress for our society".

The current President of the Board of Trustees of the UB, Joan Corominas, started his speech with some recognition and appreciation words towards Salvador Alemany, who left his position this last July. In his speech, Corominas stated that even though Catalonia is a leading territory regarding university research, "if we compare the Catalan university system transfer and innovation —and ours in particular— to other European universities with similar research indicators, our results get smaller”. Joan Corominas ended his speech thanking the Rector Dídac Ramírez for all his work: "On the one hand we have a balanced economic situation, on the other there have been some decisions for the improvement of our academic and administration organization".

In the event there were also the Minister of Business and Knowledge, Jordi Baiget, the Secretary of Universities and Research, Arcadi Navarro, members of the Catalan Government, and rectors and former rectors of Catalan universities.


Opening lecture on medicine and literature

During the opening lecture, Professor Amàlia Lafuente defended the good relationship between medicine and literature, "despite the archaic division between arts and sciences". A good relationship that "couldn’t be regulated especially in the current academic framework".

Lafuente noted that the literary genre of the medical novel "gives us the discovery of this career and the field of health". Another "charm" of this genre, in other classics, is the role of the heroic doctor, "an admiring character which the reader can trust". She labeled the role of "sublime doctor" as more present, and according to her, it is “a very present character which comes from medical super-specialization and curricular demands for personal promotion”. In this sense, the author reminded people of the TV series House, which has been studied on technical medical journals, such as The Lancet. An obvious consequence of the high expectations from medical novels is, according to Lafuente, the increase in scientific vocation. She noted that Spain is the second country in the world with more Medicine faculties, which has given a high ratio of doctors per individual —which provokes lots of people to leave the country or work under precarious conditions.

Professor Lafuente also talked about the effects of literature on the fields of health. She divided them into four levels: education, dissemination, moral dilemmas and social criticism. Regarding education, she stated "the medical professional has to know about the fear, grief, sadness and, in general, feelings that the illness provokes", and highlighted that "no wonder the best way to express so is literature". Regarding dissemination, she said that "the human brain is designed to listen to narrations". "The medical fiction novel –she said-, becomes a powerful dissemination tool when it gives science a plot, characters and feelings", both for people with no connections to science and people working in the field. Another factor is the ethical dilemma, which, as she said, "works as a conflict that encourages readers to think how they would face the subject". Finally, literature is a "social power tool". She said so giving an example of a novel which had a great social and political impact: The Citadel by Archibald Joseph Cronin, which provoked the creation of the first modern organization of health systems in the United Kingdom.

Over the course of the lecture, in order to illustrate the exhibition, Lafuente mentioned medical fiction novels by several authors, lots of them doctors, such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Robin Cook, Noah Gordon, Chekhov or Tolstoy. She ended stating that "the relationship between literature and medicine is necessary for the benefits they give one to the other".
During the event, there were also performances by the Choir of the University of Barcelona, and the General Secretary of the UB, Isabel Miralles, showed the video of the report of the academic year 2015-2016. Also, the University of Barcelona medals have been given to the faculty and administration staff as well as retired services from last academic year. The Jaume Vicens Vives distinctions for university teaching quality have also been given by the Generalitat de Catalunya (Catalan Government). One of the single awards has been given to Concepció Amat, Professor at the Department of Physiology of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Science of the University of Barcelona, for her leadership on innovation and teaching improvement through continuous assessment and work on transversal skills and encouragement to interaction among different educational levels. The awards have been endowed with 20.000 euros.

At the beginning of the event, representatives of Workers Commissions, PAS assembly (Administration staff) and Work Council made two critical interventions regarding the cutback policy the universities have faced over the last years.

Photos of the event can be seen on this link.
 

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