María Aránzazu de las Heras García

María Aránzazu de las Heras García

President, Universidad a Distancia de Madrid (UDIMA)
Jorge Calderón

Jorge Calderón

Deputy CEO, U-tad, University of Technology, Arts and Design

What has been the university's evolution been like?

MARÍA ARÁNZAZU DE LAS HERAS GARCÍA We entered an educational market where there were no private distance universities in Spain at that time. We had the experience of Centro de Estudios Financieros (CEF), a business school founded in 1977. We started with degree courses in law, journalism, psychology, business administration, and tourism. At the time, we had a traditional model of distance education, and some of the activities at the time were done via regular mail. CEF is a business school with extensive experience in training disciplines such as finance, economics, accounting, and taxes, among others. Hence, we were inspired by all that knowledge background to create a new methodology adapted to higher education's context. From that starting point, we transformed CEF's professional postgraduate degrees into university official postgraduate degrees. Today, we offer, among others, 17 degree courses and 34 master's degree courses to more than 7,000 students around the world.

JORGE CALDERÓN U-tad's mission has been to bridge the gap between industry and the next generation of digital professionals. For example, Spain does not have a good art schools, and it is difficult to find graduate artists that work on animation, videogames, designing publications, and building websites. These students represent more than 50% of our students. In fact, our artists received Annie, Emmy and Oscar nominations, among others, every year. Our artists are extremely active and work in the best companies across the world. For example, Klaus was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film; almost 200 people worked on Klaus, and more than 30 of them were from U-TAD. The videogame industry leads the development of technology in many fields. Digital transformation has been evolving over the years, and now we need to change our focus from real things to software and design.

In 2020, you launched degrees on neuromarketing, financial intelligence, and data science, among other programs. Can you elaborate on these new trends you are incorporating?

MADLHG New trends are always in our minds. We have to continue to evolve to what companies need. Our training offer is constantly changing, as we have to adapt ourselves to what Society demands. The Industry 4.0 Revolution, business Digital Transformation scenario and the latest technological advances are always present in our mission as a University.
Educational technology´ advances and novelties are always included in our methodology.

What is it about the training given to U-tad students that makes them so interesting for tech companies?

JC Our graduates have an employability of more than 90% within 6 months of completing their studies. We invest heavily in professors who mostly come from industry, we employ over 250 professors, and we have no more than 1,400 students. Professors at U-tad need to have real experience in the subject they will teach, working in excellent companies or developing projects in collaboration with such companies. It is not a matter of learning a topic by reading books or case but a matter of experience in their field of knowledge. This task of finding professors is taken every year a lot of effort, because we constantly introduce modifications in our subjects every year because the digital sector is changing continuously.

UDIMA created a platform in which resources and knowledge are shared openly. Can you elaborate more on this?

MADLHG In that context of uncertainty, we were extremely fortunate because we have extensive experience in teaching remotely. In addition to having a fully trained human capital to carry out the work remotely as soon as the virus began to spread. Due to the experience acquired in the field of online education, and in particular by its teachers, Docentes en Casa was created as a collaborative teaching platform in which resources, experience, and knowledge were shared openly, with the aim of to help teachers from other educational institutions in the task of teaching from home.

COVID-19 has accelerated the digital transformation of companies, allowing new job opportunities to emerge. Are U-tad students prepared for such a dynamic market?

JC Our university was launched 10 years ago. Five years later, we implemented great changes because we were aware that technology was evolving. Thereon, we have been updating our studies plans every year. This means our courses and, therefore, the students who take them, are always prepared for the sector, the market, and its developments.

ADVERTISEMENT