In its VIII Centenary, the University of Salamanca fully exhibits its secular prestige as it finds itself among the oldest sites in Europe in which general study was termed universitas, this name was the essence of its global vision of the reality, as a community project. Such global perspective is not only the goal of our days, if not an intrinsic mission of what we call a university.
Equally essential is its constant exigency to outreach the future. Thanks to its generalist nature, the University of Salamanca is capable of producing different and complementary projects, which enrich the creative debate at the beginning of this year. It is certain that the position of Spanish universities in international qualifications and its constant portrayal in the press, are factors that greatly influence our public image: it is no less true that the ordinal number held by Salamanca on the lists does not represent in any way the intellectual brilliance of many academics, whose innovative talent is the most valuable human potential for social progress.
If there is any common link between the professors from different academic areas, it is the conviction that the prosperity of the whole society is based on knowledge. This economy of knowledge functions in a globalized environment which established three conditions, if we want to continue being leaders in the society of knowledge: mobility, flexibility and connectivity.
How do we respond to such conditions? We need to impel interchange with international research centers of greater prestige: elaborate on the already signed cooperation agreements and standardize the participation of researchers in international projects. As long as the areas belong to the best research networks, it will be easier to introduce joint degrees and new transnational campus.
At the same time, the link with the most innovative cooperation networks could grow exponentially with the incorporation plans of renowned visiting researchers and outstandingly talented young researchers: the landscape of universities, on an international level, is intensely competitive in the attraction of talent; what urges in the University of Salamanca in generational replacement and a plan for the contracting of young researchers with the aim of strengthening groups of excellence.
All these factors are interdependent: the appeal for recruiting talent depends on our position in global rankings. Some of these parameters can improve, inasmuch as the majority of researchers acquire tools in order to identify the means of publishing in high impact journals. On the other hand, the offer of professional Postgraduate and international doctoral programs should increase, as a true recruitment program for the best foreign students for the University of Salamanca.
It is necessary to design a plan that will increase the international education of our students, because the average student mobility of our neighboring countries triples that of Spanish students who ho abroad. Also, the still incipient mobility of managing personnel has to be fostered, as a crucial agent in international cooperation between institutions. Obviously, their proficiency in languages and their international profile should find recognition and tangible incentives.
In order to achieve the objectives discussed in the previous paragraph, it is necessary to include the teaching of English in some areas, as an indispensable vehicle for knowledge in an international space without borders. That said, it should be understood that bilingual abilities and abilities in scientific communication, do not oppose each other in any way, but instead they are perfectly compatible with the Spanish language. In 2017 we also celebrate the 65th anniversary of implementing Modern Languages in the University of Salamanca; the Faculty of Philology has been a European space of Higher Education for more than half a century; a pioneer in spreading Spanish thought in Europe, precisely because our lecturers had knowledge of languages that opened the Spanish University to neighboring countries.
Salamanca is a model for Ibero-America in the areas of Law, Political Science, Economy and Language Studies. Some of the nearby European countries “envy” this powerful link with Ibero-America, which provided and multiplied the General Foundation of the University.
The University of Salamanca has sufficient assets in order to strengthen its primacy in the study and defense of the Spanish language and, simultaneously other languages, due to its international impact. In the European space this will be one more badge for its leadership in Hispanic Studies.
Elena Llamas Pombo, Full Professor at the University of Salamanca
Article published in El Norte de Castilla