The Practicum Foundation – Institute for Research Applied to Education in Health Sciences has attended the 5th Universia International Rectors’ Summit, which has turned Valencia into the Ibero-American capital of higher education. Dr Eduardo Hornos, president of the Foundation and general director of Practicum Script, has once again represented our organisation at the event organised by Santander Universities. Under the motto “University and Society”, around 700 rectors and academics from 14 countries have reflected on key matters for universities to continue being a driver of progress in society.

The fifth Universia International Rectors’ Summit, which gives continuity to the call prior to the pandemic in Salamanca (Spain) in 2018, has counted on the participation of the Practicum Foundation as an organisation firmly committed to undergraduate medical education and teaching innovation. In the presentation of the event at a press conference, the president of Santander Universities, Matías Rodríguez Iniciarte, pointed out that “society needs to lean on academic institutions, governments and companies to overcome the global challenges it’s facing”. For the president of the Practicum Foundation, “our activity is concentrated within that triangle”.

Between 8th and 10th May, the impressive architectural complex located on the Turia river of the City of Arts and Sciences has brought together around 700 academic leaders to address three strategic thematic axes: lifelong learning, the promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation, and networks and interconnection between universities. The objective was to generate synergies and place the university as an engine of social advance and economic growth. The Declaration of Valencia includes the pact so that the houses of studies advance, from different lines of action, in their purpose of continuing to contribute to the common good.

According to Dr Eduardo Hornos, “Universia constitutes a solid step forward to the integration of transversal skills in the curriculum and the need to implement flexible learning formats adapted to the needs of students”. In this sense, “the university must be a pioneer in the innovation race and empower teachers so that they can organise a flexible curriculum, promoting an alliance with other sciences of complexity apart from biology, in the case of medicine”. In his opinion, a new era of humanity begins in which the paradigm of the 20th century, based on knowledge and memory of books, gives way to the new paradigm, based not only on knowledge but especially on know-how and the prioritisation of reflective thinking and metacognition”.

Within this framework, Dr Hornos believes that the university should be open and promote partnerships with public and private institutions, both academic and scientifically advanced atypical organisations. This conviction has led him to promote scientific cooperation agreements with rectors of Spanish, European and Latin American universities to create a superior research network focused on a new pedagogy and educational technology aimed at training and evaluating clinical reasoning. In his opinion, “the university must equip the human capital of the future with skills ranging from critical thinking and leadership, to the mobilisation of resources and people, through the creation and management of R&D”.

The post-pandemic scenario has redesigned more sophisticated cooperation frameworks that include virtual and intersectoral modes. In addition, the university is progressively opening to direct collaboration with governments, industry and society in general. This collaboration, which occurs both in teaching and in research and transfer, allows scaling initiatives, complementing resources, reducing risks and learning from others to jointly create greater social value. “What has been discussed here is the enormous potential of the university as a catalyst for this advance”, Dr Hornos says.

Among the invited speakers, figures such as the inventor of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee, the chief economist of the World Bank Larry Summers, the Prince of Asturias Award for Scientific Research 2006 Ignacio Cirac and the person in charge of the conversational AI research strategy at Google AI Pilar Manchón, among others, have stood up. In addition, Universia 2023 has had more informal activities developed in parallel to the academic debate, such as the students’ talk with Ana Botín and the former basketball player Pau Gasol. Also, the opening event was even attended by the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez.

New needs

Universia 2023 has underlined that universities have played a leading role in formal education aimed at a young audience. The fourth industrial revolution and the impact of Covid-19 have accelerated the transformation of teaching/learning processes to accommodate the educational offer to the needs of current trainees. Practicum Script joins the campaign to adapt to new audiences with an agile and flexible clinical reasoning training programme that allows students to learn by doing in a digital and risk-free environment, in addition to doing so with the guarantee of immediate and personalised feedback.


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