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Ramón Fernández-Pacheco, Carolina España and José Carlos Gómez Villamandos, pictured on Tuesday after the Governing Council meeting. E.P.
Junta gives green light to Andalucía's first online university

Junta gives green light to Andalucía's first online university

Utamed, with participation from SUR in English publisher Vocento, comes after a twenty year delay in the implementation of higher distance studies in the region

ALBERTO GÓMEZ

Monday, 20 February 2023, 20:05

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Andalucía will have two new private universities. On Tuesday 14 February the Governing Council of the Junta de Andalucía approved the projects for the Atlantic-Mediterranean Technological University (Utamed), which will be the first online university in the region, and CEU Fernando III.

Utamed, promoted by the Medac - MasterD Group, has the participation of Vocento, Spain's leading regional press group, and the investment giant KKR. Its opening, scheduled for September 2024, comes after a delay of more than twenty years in the implementation of distance university studies in Andalucía compared to other regions such as Madrid and Catalonia.

Utamed’s initial offering, which is expected to be expanded in the coming years, includes six degrees: Digital Economics and Business Intelligence, Digital Marketing, Law, Digital Communication and Journalism, Early Childhood Education and Primary Education. This new online university will also offer seven master's degrees: Digital Business Management, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Automation and Artificial Intelligence, Educational and Digital Technology, Digital Ethics, Legal Practice and Teacher Training. There will also be a doctorate based on digital society and technology and three lines of research: Educational Technologies, Ethics in the Digital Age and Digital Economy.

These are studies focused on the new digital realities with which Utamed aims, in the words of its founders, "to contribute to the creation of employment and the attraction of talent". To this end, it will prioritise applied research and promote student contacts with mentors and investors who will be responsible for tutoring and financing the projects. Many of these professionals, with whom Utamed has already signed agreements but whose names have not yet been revealed, are "entrepreneurs and founders of top-level companies".

The president of Utamed, Paco Ávila, said that in Andalucía "we have needed an online university for more than twenty years". Ávila said the need was urgent “because the technological revolution in general and artificial intelligence in particular are pushing our country's human capital towards an irremediable situation: either you transform your skills and adapt them to the new needs demanded by the market or you are heading straight for unemployment.”

Online higher education has been established in Spain for many years, with such benchmarks as the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), where former minister Manuel Castells is Professor of Sociology. Ávila said Utamed would allow "a leap in quality in competitiveness in terms of training", and explained that the prices "will be affordable" and that payments can be financed in interest-free instalments. The university will also allocate five per cent of its budget to the granting of scholarships.

The councillor for University, Research and Innovation, José Carlos Gómez Villamandos, said at a press conference that Utamed is a project "that has matured" in recent years and that it will allow "reconciling family and work life" with training.

Gómez Villamandos said that both Utamed and CEU Fernando III come "with all the guarantees" and the positive reports of the Legal Office of the Board, the Economic and Social Council and the Advisory Council. The regional government has stressed that these universities will not be financed with public money.

Following the approval of the projects, the next step is the processing of the law recognising Utamed in the Andalusian Parliament. The university will be based in part of the building occupied by SUR newspaper on Avenida Doctor Marañón, in Malaga city.

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