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After reading the inspiring article by @Success.1 I was thinking for a long time about the role that the University should play. I don't mean the University as a building or as a place of study, but the University as an Institution.
The university is closely linked to the city in which it is located. It even often takes its name (Oxford from Oxfordshire, Cambrige from Cambridge, or UCM Universidad Complutense de Madrid from Madrid).
At the beginning of the academic year, the city is full of students from all over the world thanks to programs such as ERASMUS, etc. These young people live the experience of living in a city abroad. They rent apartments during the school year, consume in the city, have their own parties, friends, lovers etc. It's probable they could become new stable citizens. At least, they will become residents of the city for several years. In other words, what happens in the University affects the 'Univercity' (a city with a University).
As an Institution, the University must also play a social role. It should not only train young people, but also accompany them in their itinerary and according to their social reality. In example, It must adapt to the different languages and ways of understanding the world (al cultural role). It must provide scholarships to students who are intellectually advantaged but economically disadvantaged. It must train in local values people who come from very different places and will stay in the city for a long period of time.
The university as an institution must position itself and must take part in the resolution of conflicts or problemans of the city in which it is located. To put it briefly: it has a social role, beyond the educational one.
But it also has an economic role. The university must keep itself up to date, it must have contact with the business environment to know what profiles and subjects, what skills, are in demand in the market. And it must guide its contents towards these local and global realities and goals so that its students become fully integrated people who will be the ones to lead these same companies in the future.
The university must also position itself in the face of political conflicts, since what is taught and divulged within its walls directly affects their solution.
What I mean is that the university is an institution that must be in close contact with reality, with youth, with society, with companies and their needs, and serve as a facilitator for conflict resolution.
Otherwise, the university becomes a temple, an ivory tower, full of erudite wise men who never set foot on the street and who have never been part of any other reality than the Academy. A place of erudite wise men who teach things that were obsolete more than 50 years ago and prepare the youth in 'knowledge' but not for 'real life'.
So, I believe that the university should move towards a concept of 'univercity', fully integrated into the reality of the city in which it is located.
Image sources: own creation from Creative Common vectorial graphics.
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