Inés Pedrera, Max Blauenstein, Ángeles Muñoz and Carmen Díaz during the presentation of the project. :: Josele-Lanza
Marbella is about to join the list of towns which have private universities. After months of bureaucratic processes since the contract for the construction and management of this type of educational centre was put to tender, the mayor, Ángeles Muñoz has now announced the name of the chosen firm, which was the only one to express an interest in the initiative. Behind the Centro de Estudios Universitarios Internacionales de Marbella (MIUSC), which should open in September, is a Swiss holding company, the Genint group, which has interests and investments in different business sectors all over the world. With 15 years' experience in financial advising, these investors view the Marbella project as a new business opportunity, explained Max Blauenstein, a representative of the firm, this week. “The crisis has led us to diversify our investments and we have seen the possibility of doing business with this project because we have confidence in its success”, he says.
The contract signed with Marbella council places in the hands of this group not only the construction of the university, which will be in El Pinillo district, but also the management of the same for a period of 40 years. The company will pay a fee of 55,000 euros a year to the town. It should be able to pay this without difficulty, bearing in mind that studying at the university will cost 15,000 euros per student, per academic year. However, starting the project will need an initial investment of 2.2 million euros and this will reach 7.4 million by the fourth year of its opening, according to figures supplied by financial director Inés Pedrera.
With a forecast of about 100 students in the first years, the international private university will start by offering four degree courses: International Communication and Multimedia, International Relations, International Business, and Publicity and Public Relations. The company says that the study plans are adapted to the Espacio Europeo de Educación Superior and the Plan Bolonia. “They are completely endorsed by the EU and they are transferable with all the universities in the European Area of Higher Education. This means that the subjects studied and the credits obtained are recognised by more than 100 international universities in 44 countries”, explains Inés Pedrera. All the courses will be taught in English. The idea of the company behind the project is that in the following academic year, the number of degrees could be widened to a total of 15. At the moment, Medicine and Odontology have been excluded “because there is no hospital in the area where the students could do practical work”, says Inés Pedrera, despite the presence of health service and private hospitals in Marbella and the surrounding area.
Those behind the project insist that they will seek «the best and most prestigious professionals» to work at the university and they are leaving the door open to the idea of incorporating new investors. They also intend to apply for donations from foundations of recognised prestige, with the idea of expanding the project in line with expectations.
For the mayor of Marbella, Ángeles Muñoz, this project will provide an opportunity for the almost 2,000 pupils who are studying the International Baccalaureate in Marbella, “who until now have had to leave the town to continue their university studies and who will now be able to do so in an integral or partial form right here”.
To encourage students to come to the university, the council has indicated that it will award five grants each year to students who have gained the best results at school and whose families could not otherwise afford to send them to the university to study.
Ángeles Muñoz insists that a private centre of this type has been made necessary “because of the repeatedly negative responses we have received when we have applied for an extension of the University of Malaga here in Marbella”.
The philosophy of the Centro de Estudios Universitarios Internacionales de Marbella will be “always to bear in mind the professional needs of the companies and sectors which can lead the change in forthcoming years, and to attract not only professionals but also students from other countries to strengthen the image of Marbella as an international town”, says the mayor.
A group that provides financial advice to companies
Despite the hopes of many, the new private university which is due to open in Marbella in September will not be run by a well-known national or international university of the same type. They have been surprised to learn that behind the future Centro de Estudios Universitarios Internacionales de Marbella (MIUSC) is a Swiss holding group which is more accustomed to giving financial advice to European companies than teaching classes of young students who need to continue their studies in order to follow their chosen profession.
With 15 years of experience and its headquarters in Geneva, the Genint investment group has seen a new business opportunity in this Marbella project. The firm offers financial advice to a wide range of businesses and financial advisory service and it says its experience comes from years of working with «thousands of Swiss and foreign companies, especially those from Eastern Europe».
To put this project into effect, the group will be employing professionals with experience in university tuition. However, Max Blauenstein, a representative of Genint who came to Marbella for the presentation this week, says the idea is to continue to incorporate new investors and promotors into the project. He also said Marbella was the ideal location for the university «because of its international character as well as its lifestyle, and its position as a tourist town» which is recognised nationally and internationally.