There are signs that invite optimism. And the fact is that, although there are indicators that indicate the structural problems of the Spanish educational system, which have also been aggravated by the global crisis of covid-19, our country has training niches of authentic excellence, especially in the university section and post academic. This is precisely the mirror in which education in Spain should be reflected, as it implies many challenges and opportunities in a country that has some of the best universities in Europe.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has recently published some recommendations aimed at improving our educational system, key to strengthening Spain’s international image and thus attracting investments that have an impact on our economy. In the future development of any society, education is a fundamental pillar. And the University should be an essential reference for any society wanting to progress.
In fact, Spanish universities have been working in this direction for a long time. One of its strategic lines is to lead the digital transformation and adapt its training itineraries to the new demands of the labor market. The academic offer on this subject is increasing, with master’s degrees and programs aimed at ensuring that the new generations face a job market and a sustainable, efficient, flexible production system with guarantees and in increasingly digitized environments.
The importance of continuous training
The demand for professional profiles is changing; It is not only important what we learn, but how we are and how we develop; They are looking for professionals who while cultivating their training, working on their skills or soft skills, who have leadership skills, who master digital environments and have the ability to adapt to changes. In this sense, universities have a lot to contribute.
One of the effects of digitization is that it forces us to be in a permanent process of transformation and continuous training, because changes happen at an extraordinary speed. At this point, the Spanish university system is currently facing an enormous challenge such as adapting its academic content, both in form and substance, to the advancement of digital media and tools and the constant transformation of the labor market, to guide the youngest towards a future and professional challenges that, in some cases, do not yet exist.
Banco Santander is aware that supporting the education and progress of young people is vital to move towards more competitive, equitable societies with higher levels of quality of life.
Hence the importance of ensuring that universities are able to “teach how to learn and provide tools to have skills in the future”, as stated by the president of Banco Santander, Ana Botín, during the International Meeting of Universia Rectors, held in Salamanca. In his opinion, “we cannot assume that what we have learned will be enough for us throughout our lives”. Continuous updating is therefore essential to acquire new talents and skills in an increasingly changing environment.
In this context, public-private collaboration is another key factor to increase opportunities for students and promote the transfer of knowledge from the university to the company and vice versa. This formula will, for example, guide the imminent reform of Vocational Training (FP), announced this summer by the Government. The VET modernization plan has three pillars: the recognition and accreditation of professional competences, the expansion and updating of the training offer and the incorporation of digitization, innovation and entrepreneurship to these teachings.
In this sense, Banco Santander is aware that supporting the education and progress of young people is vital to move towards more competitive, equitable societies with higher levels of quality of life for people. For this reason, the Group has specialized areas, projects and specific programs to promote training, promote entrepreneurship, support research and improve the employability of young people.
Santander Universities and Universia, pioneering programs
The financial institution’s commitment to higher education is rooted in the institution’s own identity. For more than 20 years, Banco Santander has supported the universities of all the countries in which it operates through a unique initiative in the world and a specialized area, Santander Universidades, which develops numerous initiatives and academic programs hand in hand with the own university institutions. The objective, as a responsible bank, is to contribute to the progress of people and society, and in this case, of university students.
All these activities revolve around three key axes and always from the commitment of inclusion, equal opportunities and sustainable growth. In the first place, promoting education, either by facilitating access to university studies, or by offering opportunities for improvement, development and internationalization of students and teachers. In this sense, they have numerous programs such as the Santander Progreso Scholarships, for students with financial difficulties, or the Santander Iberoamerica Undergraduate Scholarships and the Santander Erasmus Scholarships, to access international experiences.
Second, Santander is committed to promoting university entrepreneurship through the Santander X global initiative, which offers young people from all over the world access to different entrepreneurial programs promoted by universities in a digital, open and collaborative environment and in whose context national programs such as Explorer in Spain or international challenges such as Santander X Tomorrow Challenge. And finally, it is key for the entity to improve the employability of young people, with adapted and specific initiatives such as the recently launched Santander Scholarships #InvestEnTi for university students and also young professionals, the Santander Scholarships for MIT Leading Digital Transformation or the more than 11,000 Santander Scholarships English Up British Council for Language Immersion. On the entity’s website you can find all the information and calls for these scholarship, award and aid programs, as well as many others that exemplify the bank’s work in favor of education.
In 2019 alone, more than 68,000 students benefited from these scholarships, which since 2005 have reached more than 420,000 people. Since 2002, Banco Santander has invested more than 1,800 million euros in support of higher education (119 million euros last year).
On the other hand, and also as part of this support to Universities, the entity supports Universia, a university network present in 20 countries that offers academic guidance to help users, guidance on employability with advice, internships and employment for young people in America Latina and the launch of the portal Universia Jobs and support for the digital transformation of universities through the MetaRed project.
In addition, the Universia Foundation works to achieve the academic integration and job placement of university students with disabilities with another wide range of initiatives.
In parallel, Banco Santander has been promoting the SmartBank project since 2019, aimed exclusively at young people, to whom it offers content, advice and proposals of interest on employability, training, entrepreneurship, housing, technology and digital transformation. Likewise, they can access job offers, specific training options, and advice on the creation or improvement of the CV, among other matters and specific services adapted for them.
Santander also pays special attention to science and defends the need to support research as the engine of progress in a country. In this sense, in addition to the usual research projects and awards that it promotes with universities, the exceptional circumstances that we are experiencing as a result of the health crisis have made the financial institution take a new step forward in this area.
One of the main projects promoted together with Crue Universidades Españolas and the CSIC has been the creation of the Supera Covid Fund, which has allocated 8.5 million euros to numerous research projects against covid-19 in universities throughout Spain.
Banco Santander has also financed different studies on vaccines, treatments and behavior of the coronavirus.
But you’re not just supporting university research. Through its Juntos Solidarity Fund, endowed with more than 54 million euros, Banco Santander has also financed various studies on vaccines, treatments and behavior of the coronavirus with institutions and research centers such as the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Center, the Public Foundation Galega de Medicina Xenómica or the Hospital Materno Infantil San Joan de Déu, among others.
Likewise, the institution has collaborated for 10 years in the PESA study (Progression of early subclinical atherosclerosis) CNIC-Santander, to advance in the knowledge of the progression of cardiovascular disease.