Although there may be uncertainty regarding the indicators associated with the internationalization both in international rankings and in issues of accreditation, the universities consider it vital in terms of outreach, research, undergraduate and graduate studies. For this reason, several International Relations Managers met online to address the different challenges in this field.
One of the strategic pillars of Santander Universidades is the promotion of international mobility as part of their program, and as a support in the field of higher education. At the same time, the Chilean university portal Universia Chile, which the university Universidad de La Frontera (UFRO) is associated with for more than a decade, has become an important meeting point for more than 60 associated institutions.
Both entities organize regular meetings with university representatives, and on this occasion, they invited the International Relations Managers to a conversation about the issues higher education is facing right now in its diverse fields of activity. Thus, questions about the different experiences within the pandemic and about possible opportunities have been addressed.
The director of the International Affairs Office at UFRO, Dr. Lorena Vieli, explains that the realities among the Chilean universities are not that different, because “we all had to respond to a situation of global crisis, where the work started to depend on the use of technologies for being able to continue with our activities. But this has also opened new possibilities with regard to the international and intercultural experience of our students and teachers; so we started for example with some kind of virtual mobility and to incorporate teaching methods with international virtual collaboration”.
In fact, according to a report issued by Universia, the pandemic brought an immediate transition from face-to-face to virtual mobility, with both positive and negative consequences. One of the most interesting aspects is the democratization of international education, because more students have access to it, since they do not have to leave their homes and can access it from their computers or electronic devices. However, the students prefer the face-to-face mobility, since a stay abroad is more like a life experience for them, rather than a purely academic one.
Another essential fact, according to the participants in that conversation, is that the current context has opened a space for new Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) courses, which can be implemented without financial barriers. Some of the universities already offer this kind of courses, while others are still working on their implementation.
One of the difficulties mentioned by the participants is the language gap that still exists among the students. Most of them do not have the English proficiency to apply to English-speaking universities, what limits them to choose universities in Spanish-speaking countries.
In this respect, scholarships for language courses have become an essential measure in the development of foreign language skills and – this is something the participants in this conversation strongly agreed on – for a better academic performance.
The last topic of the conversation was an evaluation of the stays abroad of the students, which had to be interrupted or cancelled due to the effects of the pandemic. In most cases, the units in charge of International Affairs and Student Welfare started to work together to help the students to return home, also in accordance with the arrangements in the respective country.
Written and translated by: UFRO Communications Office
Dr. Teun van Dijk, a well-known Dutch linguist and Honorary Professor at UFRO, spoke about the relationship between discourse and racism in the context of academic activities, in a lecture organized by the UFRO Ph.D. program in Communication.
Dr. Teun van Dijk is one of the world’s top researchers in the fields of discourse analysis and critical discourse analysis (CDA) and last Monday, he was invited to one of the activities of the Ph.D. program in Communication of the university Universidad de La Frontera (UFRO), where he spoke to about a thousand people.
During his presentation, he went through the four decades of his work in the field of discourse studies, from a socio-cognitive, critical and multidisciplinary perspective, with a special focus on discourse and racism.
Dr. van Dijk’s link with UFRO, which allowed the realization of this activity, began in 2008, when Dr. Carlos del Valle, who was the Dean of the UFRO Faculty of Education, Social Science and Humanities back then, conferred the title of Honorary Professor on the internationally recognized researcher from the Netherlands.
Since then, UFRO maintains contact with Dr. van Dijk, who has been collaborating in different initiatives of the faculty and the university, while he has particularly strengthened his ties with the Ph.D. program in Communication, as a visiting professor. According to Dr. del Valle, “he accepted the creation of a chair with his name, as part of the Ph.D. program – the Teun A. van Dijk chair on Communication and Discourse – which we are still processing at the university”.
In addition, after a formal request, Dr. van Dijk received the Ph.D. student Mauricio Garcia last January at the Centre of Discourse Studies in Barcelona, which he founded in 2017. The professor is currently also one of the co-directors of this student's thesis, which is called “Discourse strategies in the creation of texts to convey protests, published in social media. Social movement in Chile (2019-2020)”.
Dr. van Dijk has worked as a professor for literary and discourse studies at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and is now working as a professor at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain. In addition, he is the director of the Centre of Discourse Studies in Barcelona, which he founded in 2017. At the same time, he is the editor and founder of several academic journals specialized in discourse studies and he has published 37 books and more than 250 articles in several languages.
Written by: Karimme Riadi Millas
Bárbara Mora’s thesis presented the results of a new potential alternative, based on the mixture of two drugs, which could generate positive effects in treatments for this pathology.
Gastric cancer is the second main cause of death by cancer in the Chilean population and the leading cause of death by cancer in men, what makes it an important problem in public health.
This is what reports from the International Association of Cancer Registries reveal, trying to improve survival rates and to reduce adverse effects. Cisplatin is one of the most used chemotherapy medications, although the main problem of this treatment method is drug resistance.
The identification of new differentially expressed genes associated to the development of cisplatin-resistant phenotypes in gastric cancer cell lines was the main objective of the research and thesis carried out by Bárbara Mora, with which she obtained her doctoral degree in Science with specialization in Applied Cellular and Molecular Biology from the university Universidad de La Frontera (UFRO).
Within the research, Dr. Mora generated a model of resistance to cisplatin in gastric cancer cell lines, to later characterize and perform an RNA-seq analysis to determine the genes and signaling pathways of interest, meaning those involved in the resistance phenotype.
The research was carried out under the supervision of Dr. Priscilla Brebi (guiding teacher) and Dr. Carmen Ili (co-guiding teacher) at the Laboratory of Integrative Biology (LIBi), CEMT-BIOREN, of UFRO.
Bárbara Mora is a biotechnologist who graduated from UFRO and enrolled in the Ph.D. program in 2015. During her Ph.D. studies, she achieved 5 ISI publications, 2 non-ISI publications and submitted 1 paper. In addition, she actively participated in 8 international and 13 national congresses.
“I chose this program, because I wanted to do research in my region. Besides, the program did offer the field of research I wanted to work in and the academic body I wanted to work with. I had to make constant sacrifices for 5 years and I learned to overcome my frustrations, because in science, most of the time the experiments do not work out as you thought. But everything is possible when you have such a great team standing behind you,” Dr. Mora concluded.
Written by: UFRO Communications Office
In eight entertaining episodes that showcase their best music and dance performances, the folk dance group of the Office of Outreach and Community Engagement of UFRO invites us to get to know the different cultures that coexist in Chile.
September is a month of celebration in Chile, because of the country’s national holiday on September 18th. In this context, the official folk dance group of the Office of Outreach and Community Engagement of the university Universidad de La Frontera (UFRO), which is called “Magia Chilena”, surprises us during this week with an excellent selection of music and dance performances, to celebrate the Chilean culture.
According to Dr. Paola Olave Müller, the director of the Office of Outreach and Community Engagement, the folk dance group of UFRO wants to show us their work through this initiative. “We are making the work of our “Magia Chilena” dance group available for everyone through the different online channels and we want everybody to be part of the celebration of our national holiday, which we are very proud of in our country, although we will have to celebrate virtually this year, because of the pandemic”, she pointed out.
The director of the dance group, Miguel Ángel Leiva, explained that these videos include a basic dance course of the typical Chilean “Cueca” dance, so that everybody at home can practice it and celebrate. “In addition, we will present the work that our musicians are doing from their homes. We also included an educational video on the Aymara culture and asked our dancers, who are the national champions of the “Cueca chora” dance, to prepare a video about the origins of this dance. And finally, we prepared a “Musical Landscape” proposal, adapted to the context of the pandemic”, he explained.
Eight videos are going to be released through the online channels of the UFRO Office of Outreach and Community Engagement during this week, so that you will be able to go on a tour of the different Chilean music and dances, which the university brings to your home.
“A tour of the Chilean national folklore with Magia Chilena”
To access this interesting cultural selection of music and dance performances, please enter the YouTube Channel: https://cutt.ly/PyFhqmV
Written by: María Carolina Oyarzún Varas
The UFRO Ph.D. program has students who are studying a Joint Degree at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, as well as at the Sapienza University of Rome in Italy, in addition to Cotutelles with professors from European and Latin American universities.
Joint Degree agreements and Cotutelle programs with institutions from Europe and Latin America are only some of the actions of internationalization the Doctoral Program in Communication, which is imparted by the universities Universidad de La Frontera (UFRO) and Universidad Austral de Chile, carried out.
One of these agreements has been signed with the renowned University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Five Ph.D. students of UFRO are currently studying within this Joint Degree program, thus opening up new opportunities for networking and academic exchange.
Dr. Carlos del Valle is the director of the program and explained that this Joint Degree agreement in particular originates from the network of researchers he is part of, as a researcher of a Horizon 2020 MSCA-RISE project, financed by the European Union. “The framework agreement was initiated in 2016 and at the end of 2019, we signed the first specific agreement for the double graduation of a student. Four other students are also in the signing process at the moment, so that 20 percent of the Ph.D. students will be able to acquire their degree from UFRO and the University of Groningen at the same time.”
Eduardo Gallegos knows these requirements very well, because he is one of the Ph.D. students who joined this Joint Degree program, and the first one to carry out his doctoral stay at the University of Groningen. “I was able to make contact with some of the teachers there since I started my Ph.D. studies, and I also took an elective class, which was taught in Temuco, by a teacher from Groningen. All of that allowed me to approach the professors, to ask them some questions and to start my doctoral thesis outline, which is about the stories of European travelers in Chile and their connections with the nineteenth-century press in our country,” he commented.
His stay at the European university was part of the program. He went there in February and came back at the end of May this year, using the time to progress with the outline of the remaining work and to define the details of his research proposal with the professors in Groningen. “Although the pandemic has slowed down all the academic processes in the Netherlands, it still was a great experience to be there, and this way, the agreement still is fully active and will be useful for different academic purposes of the doctoral program. And also the fact that I had to put my English language skills to the test both orally and in writing certainly was a benefit for myself.”
SAPIENZA UNIVERSITY OF ROME
Another Joint Degree agreement has been signed in 2019 with the Sapienza University of Rome in Italy, a renowned university with a long tradition. The framework agreement has been signed in 2018 and a year later, the Joint Degree agreement has been signed, with the Italian student Daniele Panaroni being the first one who joined the Doctoral Program in Communication, Social Research and Marketing within this agreement.
Regarding his motivation for choosing the Joint Degree program, the Italian student commented that he was interested in improving his work and research experience in the field of ethnic minorities, which is linked to the Mapuche People in the Araucanía Region.
“I was supposed to go to Chile in April 2020, but because of the health crisis caused by Covid-19 I wasn’t able to go there. However, thanks to the Internet I was able to participate in all activities and I am very satisfied with that,” commented the student, who is working with Dr. Carlos del Valle on the relationship between new media and the self-representation of ethnic minorities.
Thirteen students of the UFRO Doctorate in Communication are working on their theses in Cotutelle. Among the universities that have a Cotutelle agreement with UFRO are: University of Seville (Spain), Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), National University of La Plata (Argentina), Pompeu Fabra University (Spain), Sapienza University of Rome (Italy), National University of Cuyo (Argentina), National University of Quilmes (Argentina), and Central American University (El Salvador).
Finally, Dr. Carlos del Valle emphasized that the promotion of this kind of networks and agreements is part of the process of internationalization for this doctoral program. Besides, it gives new options to the students, of which 10 have a scholarship from the National Research and Development Agency (ANID) in Chile. Actually, this fact also confirms the quality of the doctoral program, considering how difficult it is to get one of these scholarships.
Written by: UFRO Communications Office