UNIVERSITY OF MEDELLÍN

Colombia 2019 | EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Néstor de Jesús Hincapié Vargas, Dean of University of Medellín.

Néstor de Jesús Hincapié Vargas
BIOGRAPHY
Nestor de Jesús Hincapié Vargas studied law, criminal law, and criminology at the Universidad de Medellín, and Roman law at the Universidad Externado de Colombia. He has served as President of the Universidad de Medellín since 2000; prior to this, he was President of the University’s Honorable Board of Trustees from 1993 to 2000. He was a professor at the Law School of the Universidad de Medellín for more than 40 years, teaching Roman law, civil law, and assets. His long career has seen him serve in both the public and private sectors, including as Secretary of Education and later Governor pro Tempore of the Antioquia Region.

How does the university manage its initiatives with the public and private sectors to have a positive impact on Medellín and the region?
Universidad de Medellín is a private institution that does not receive financial support from any government or private entity; therefore, it must generate the resources for its administration and growth. Alliances are a fundamental part of our strategy; the institution belongs and participates in the University Company State Committee that oversees aligning Higher Education Institutions of the region and the country. This alignment considers the needs and contributions of the state and private businesses. In relation to this, the Universidad de Medellín has 17 patents that contribute by providing solutions to environmental problems in areas such as civil engineering, energy engineering, the IoT, and audiovisual communication, among others. Likewise, we developed a factor risk conformed by several software that measure and provide advice on financial risk issues. A materialization of the impact of the Universidad de Medellín in Antioquia and Medellín is the installation of a solar light pole in the community surrounding the campus. Regarding the relationship with private companies, teachers at the university developed an IoT technology that allows the detection of gas leaks in kitchen countertops. This invention is supported and financed by the Haceb organization, which develops household appliances. It is in these scenarios where Universidad de Medellín generates and applies science as a service for society.

How do you help prepare students for a globally competitive economy?
The Universidad de Medellín, through its international relations division, has established relationships with the world for the internationalization of its academic and administrative processes. We currently have 140 agreements with universities across the world. Every year, an average of 150 students from Universidad de Medellín go abroad, and similarly, around 130 international university come to Universidad de Medellín. Approximately 80 of our teachers visit other countries for academic papers, postdoctoral internships, and research agreements and during that same period an average of 80 international teachers visit Universidad de Universidad de Medellín to fulfill the same purposes. Furthermore, an agreement such as the Peru 18 program has allowed young people with special socioeconomic situations in the Republic of Peru to study with full ride scholarships at Universidad de Medellín.

How does the university manage its internal policies to foster an inclusive environment?
Since our foundation, we have taken inclusion as a missionary foundation, which is why we are one of the few Colombian universities that base their enrollment fees on the socioeconomic stratification of the applicants. In this sense, we are also the institution with the most enrolled scholarship holding students in the region. An average of 2,632 students benefit from scholarships, academic incentives, and discounts for sports and artistic activities. Likewise, our permanence quality program is focused on serving the student population with the objective that they do not abandon their careers and successfully complete their programs. This is focused on five specific workshops: anxiety management, concentration and attention, reading comprehension, logical thinking, and individual attention.