The UOC is implementing an international study grants programme
Photo: UOC
Agns Roca

The UOC has launched an international grant programme to facilitate access to university studies. For the first time ever, the University offers its own financial support programmes with the goal of creating higher education opportunities for population groups with disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, to help them further their education. One of the actions included in the Global and Social Plan is the creation of international study grant programmes to increase the possibilities for access to inclusive, equitable, quality university education. Currently, two grant options are being implemented with the collaboration of public agencies in other countries and also with the support of various social entities.

Grants with public agencies

In June, the University opened the second call for grants with the Colombian Institute for Education Credit and Technical Studies Abroad (ICETEX). In this edition, 50 grants have been offered that cover 40% of the enrolment fee for Colombian professionals who wish to take university master's degrees at the UOC. With these grants, the students, preselected by ICETEX but with the final choice made by the University, will have the possibility of obtaining a European university degree.

Pastora Martnez, Vice President for Globalization and Cooperation, explains that the UOC's decision to open new grant programmes seeks to fulfil several aims, such as facilitating access to higher education for people with less resources and creating an international awareness of the UOC's educational model, while at the same time, "we cooperate with international bodies to increase social impact and foster collective use of higher education, taking into account aspects such as equality, equity and access."

Scholarships for refugees

In September, the UOC will launch the second pilot test of the scholarship programme created to provide university access for refugees or asylum applicants who have had to discontinue their studies because they have had to flee their home country for socio-political, racial, religious, cultural, or gender reasons, humanitarian crises, armed conflicts, etc., and who currently live in a situation of economic and social vulnerability.

In the first edition, scholarships were awarded to 25 Syrian refugee students who were living in camps in Greece. On this occasion, the UOC has expanded the call to include refugees who live in Spain and other parts of the world.

In the second call, the University offers 20 scholarships for language courses (Catalan, Spanish and English) at the Centre for Modern Languages and 16 scholarships to study any of the postgraduate specialization programmes.

The UOC has been supported in the preselection of candidates by organizations such as CCAR and CEAR, ACCEM, SAIER, the Red Cross, UNHCR and CEAS Sahara and, once again, by the team of volunteers from RefugeESuoc, who will act as virtual mentors, welcoming and supporting the new students during the semester.

Classroom diversity

With the grant programmes, the number of international students in the UOC's classrooms has increased, enriching the learning experience for the University community as a whole. The students have the opportunity to share the classroom, broaden their sources of reference, and exchange knowledge and visions with fellow students who come from other contexts and whose personal realities are very different from their own.

As Robert Claris, director of the University Master's Degree in Computer Engineering, one of the programmes that has received international students in the first call with the ICETEX, explains: "There are clearly significant differences between countries in the fields of computer science or business administration. Consequently, they must be contextualized so that students learn to take a more global view of their professional field."

However, the challenge is not just for students, but also for faculty members. On an organizational level, Claris explains that professors must learn to address the diversity in the classrooms "with common sense", helping the grant-holding students to follow the courses and taking into account cultural aspects such as, for example, the fact that each country has different holiday periods that may affect submission of the continuous assessment tests.