On 13th March, the Blackboard online platform became our campus. Its features and capabilities enabled lectures, seminars, events with guest speakers, workshops and alternative practical activities to take place. Tutorials continued too and, in fact, tutorial hours increased in number during these ‘online’ weeks of the 2019-20 academic year.
Blackboard Collaborate Ultra made it possible for our students to still achieve most of the target competences for their courses and it meant that the original examination calendar could, for the most part, be maintained.
Those activities which necessarily required our students’ physical presence on campus or at external facilities were rescheduled for a time at which they could take place safely.
We have made available a wide range of grants and financial assistance both for our current students and for those who will be joining us for the first time in September.
For 2020-21, we have increased our grant budget for CEU UCH students by 25%. There’ll be more types of grants, more grants of each type and more flexibility in the eligibility requirements.
The CEU San Pablo University Foundation already was the top socially-inspired institution in Spain, in terms of the proportion of its own resources it dedicated to educational grants and financial assistance. The amount set aside for the coming academic year is now 12 million euros, all from our own resources and all for the students who need financial support.
Although in-person activity was suspended, many of the University services continued to operate, attending to student needs online or over the phone. The work of the University’s staff ensured that we continued to support student activity, ranging from providing materials for academic work to distributing information to enable students to participate with others in online social activities.
We recommend that students use the reference material located on the intranet to organize a personal study schedule and that they look at the information provided regarding the academic activities for each study programme, including the new timetables and how to participate in online social activities with other university students, etc.
If you are a student and have an issue of a personal nature, whatever this may be, the University is here to help you: contact us and tell us about it. If you are currently taking part in the admissions process for 2020-21, or you would like to apply for a place, we’re also here for you: call us or send us an email.
All our students have been able to complete the academic year, with the academic integrity of the process and their safety guaranteed. We made all the adjustments needed to make sure this was the case. We made changes to the academic calendar and extended deadlines. Everyone – students, lecturers and service staff – has been come through an extraordinary experience, together, in which we’ve had to change so many things, but one thing has stayed the same: together, we’ve made what seemed impossible possible.
The activities which form part of the COIL programme went ahead as normal. In this programme, students from different universities come together online to work together, think together, and find solutions together. Innovation, internationalization and digitization – together.
The pioneering, digital nature of the University showed – and continues to show – itself in our online platforms, our partnerships with Microsoft, and our initiatives using Amazon Web Services, such as “Alexa, open CEU”.
The University Guidance Service provided special help and support throughout the lockdown period, especially to those who were felt isolated. We created new support networks and systems. Because when we said that we were in this together, we meant it.
"We know that in life some things happen unexpectedly and they serve as a test for people and institutions, and this situation is certainly one of them. It’s very serious. It’s nothing less than a pandemic which has brought the country to paralysis. It’s something that none of us has ever seen before."
Alfonso Bullón de Mendoza y Gómez de Valugera,
President of the CEU San Pablo University Foundation.
The whole University gave everything to change, to help, to solve problems, and to connect. The lecturers, service staff, student representatives, student assistants, and the students themselves: we all felt part of what sociologists call “a community”. Together, we had to the strength to face uncertainty and come out on the other side.
There are hundreds of international students living in flats and residence near the University’s campuses and also dozens of students from other parts of Spain living far away from their families. There are many different personal stories, but for the Office of the Vice-Rector for Students and University Life there was just one objective: to keep everyone connected.
On the day on which the state of emergency was declared, the CEU Cardenal Herrera University offered its resources to the health authorities to help with the fight against the Coronavirus: our stock of healthcare supplies, our laboratories and our trained staff.
No weekends, no holidays, and sometimes without knowing whether it was day or night: our lecturers gave everything they had in order to create the best possible online learning experience for our students. The student representatives also played a great part in this. And we did it all in order to face up to the reality of COVID-19, to resolve our problems with our heads held high, and we put in the hard work in order to make the future as good as it could be.
We already knew that our students knew no borders and no limits, but this situation brought this out even more. During the first days of online academic activity, we were heartened by all the messages we received from students around the world. They kept going with their lectures from home, even when home was on the other side of the world.
This Spanish word epitomises what the University and its community are all about. Sumar means “to add” and that’s what we were and are able to do with our contributions. They might seem like small things, but when we add them all together, they turn into something truly great. By sumando, we’ll all come out stronger.
Being at home all the time, not being able to go out when you wanted and where you wanted, having to stay at least a metre away from other people when you did go out – all this was new. But what wasn’t new was the sense of solidarity that millions of people felt for each other. What wasn’t new was the strength and the sense of unity we gained from symbolic actions, even when this was as simple as going out onto our balconies to applaud other people.
Large parts of our day-to-day life and of the university experience was new. But if there’s one thing that today’s students certainly know how to do, that’s adapting to new experiences. People had said that today’s generation of university students were the most versatile generation ever, better at dealing with uncertainty and using digital technology, and that they also knew that yesterday’s methods might not be very useful tomorrow – or even today. They showed that all of that was true.
He is in his first year of Medicine and he’s already saying things like this with a smile on his face. He’s a great example of this new generation of university students: young people who know that with the right attitude and effort the impossible becomes ‘merely’ difficult. Learn more about his story here.
Open and connected
The CEU Cardenal Herrera possesses a powerful learning management system which is ideal for online teaching. With this platform and training provided in digital tools, there were a whole range of different possibilities we were able to offer for online learning, based on our five-point teaching plan.
Continuous contact with students via our online platform regarding each week’s activity plan.
2. Digital materials
Our students were able to access from home the content prepared for them by their lecturers.
3. Online study sessions.
Students were able to continue to see and interact with their lecturers in real time via online lectures, which they could watch and participate in from a computer, tablet or mobile phone. These sessions were recorded and students could watch them back at any time, twenty-fours a day.
4. Online tutorials
A special timetable of online tutorials between lecturers and students was created.
5. Rescheduling of missed lectures and practical training
Once the critical phase of the crisis passed, we set up a new schedule so that students could attend the important classes they had missed, especially in the case of sessions of a more practical nature.
Let's have dinner online together at 8 pm
The Office of the Vice-Rector for Students and University Life has launched several initiatives to connect with those students who may be feeling lonely. Our Vice-Rector, María José González, recently had dinner ‘virtually’ with a group of students; everyone stayed in but went online to dine together, to have a chat, to feel close to other people. And a new part of the menu came from a suggestion from one of the students: a WhatsApp group called “Not alone in Moncada anymore”. Of course, the Vice-Rector is not a member of the group: it is a new group for new friends. Students who hadn’t met before, but who feel connected now. Could this be the start of new friendships?
If you need any help (if you want to organize a virtual dinner, for example), please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
A wave is made up of thousands of droplets and a wave is hard to stop
The University has made its contribution – a droplet to make up a wave – by contributing its healthcare resources in the fight against the Coronavirus. We have used the appropriate channels to let the health authorities know about everything we can offer. We have offered everything we had of use, even the resources of the Hospital Clínico Veterinario, some of which could be adapted to provide artificial respiration to people. On 20th and 21st March, we provided the Health Authorities with 7700 masks, 350,300 gloves, 2200 disposable gowns, 900 overalls and PPE suits, 3000 plastic shoe covers, 2000 cotton swabs for the taking of test samples, 67 litres of hand sanitizer gel and 100 litres of 96% ethanol liquid for use in healthcare.