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THE EMBLEM of the University of the Azores proclaims: «Just like the dawn, science shines» (Sicut Aurora Scientia Lucet). Its light is projected in the Atlantic space, in which the archipelago of the Azores, formed by nine islands, occupies the geographic center between Europe and North America, but also, a scientific centrality in the knowledge of the transatlantic link, the marine ecosystems of Macaronesia and insular volcanology. «Azorina by nature, Atlantic by vocation, universal by mission»: this is how the University of the Azores is defined in the Campus RUP project, the coalition of seven universities from the outermost regions of the European Union that opt for the election as European University in the first call of the European Universities Initiative, within the Erasmus Plus program. Its focus on the Atlantic, its mobility program with universities in the United States and its specialization in marine biodiversity and the geology of islands of volcanic origin provide the RUP Campus partnership with a strategic platform between Europe and the Americas.
Founded in 1976, in the context of the rise of regionalism after the Carnation Revolution in Portugal, the University of Azores inherits the «tripolarity» of the schools created in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by the Society of Jesus in the Azorean archipelago. The Jesuits were the first to detect in the islands of Sao Miguel, Terceira and Faial the three poles on which the development of education should be based that would offer the same opportunities to the population of the nine islands. The University of Azores replicates the scheme in its three campuses of Ponta Delgada, in Sao Miguel, Angra do Heroismo, in Terceira Island, and Horta, in Faial Island.
State-owned, the University of the Azores has a university community formed by 2,713 students, 215 professors and researchers, and 180 administrative and services officials, according to the data of the university updated to 2017.
One of its mottos, especially when it is addressed to European students who are thinking about doing an Erasmus, is this: «University of the Azores, where nature inspires your studies». Atlantic and volcanic nature that also inspires its research offer, aligned with the smart specialization strategy of the Azores and with the initiatives of the Autonomous Region’s Science and Technology Fund.
Its Master and Doctorate programs in Agronomic Engineering, Engineering and Management of Water Systems, Management and Conservation of Nature, Biodiversity and Biotechnology, Vulcanology and Geological Risks, Marine Sciences, or International Relations in the Euro-Atlantic space are European references in their respective fields. The UAC imparts a Doctorate program in the Atlantic Islands: History, Heritage and Legal-Institutional Framework, together with the universities of Madeira, La Laguna and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
The UAC produces R & D in oceanography, biodiversity, vulcanology and agricultural and environmental technologies.
Since its foundation, the UAc «has played a fundamental role in the qualification of the local population», formed by 260,000 people, according to Eurostat. In the questionnaire for the European Commission of the Campus RUP project, the team of the rector Joao Luis Gaspar, a geologist and volcanologist, explains that the alliance with the other six universities of the outermost regions –the universities of Guayana, the Antilles, La Reunión, Madeira , La Laguna and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria– is an opportunity to «become more competitive and resilient», in an environment characterized, in the case of the Azores, by a declining population and the aftermath of the economic and financial crisis in the public system of Higher Education and Research of Portugal, and that «limit their ability to recruit foreign students or enroll more professors in areas of knowledge with high potential».
All of this –the UAc team maintains– makes the Campus RUP project «the most important» for the universities of the outermost regions. The alliance will allow them to «get the most out of mutual knowledge, human resources and shared materials, both for training activities and research, replicating good practices that can improve training and organizational processes.»
For the UAc, the attraction of foreign students is key to compensate the decrease of the island population. Pushed by this existential challenge, the UAc has forcibly become one of the universities with more international partnerships of the Campus RUP alliance, in proportion to its university population. Some 200 students of the UAc –7.3% of its students– are from other countries, mainly from the EU and the United States. It has cooperation agreements with more than 500 universities in the world. His exchanges with universities in the United States respond to the historical links of Azorian emigration to North America. Through the mobility program Crossing the Atlantic, the UAC and the Luso-American Development Foundation support the stays of Azorean students, professors and researchers in universities and research centers in the United States, and of American university students in the three campuses of the University of the Azores in Ponta Delgada, Angra do Heroismo and Horta.
Within the Campus RUP alliance, the UAc will host 223 university students: 44 from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria; 65 of the University of the Antilles; 44 from the University of La Laguna; 40 from the University of Guayana and 30 from the University of La Réunion. The commitment of the partners before the European Commission is to develop this mobility scheme during the three years of the project, between 2019 and 2022.
The UAc, for its part, will move 50% of its university community to other universities in the EU-RUP area, either in face-to-face rooms or in stays in the virtual campus of the consortium.
Azores coordinates, within the Campus RUP project, the tasks to ensure financial sustainability and the dissemination and replicability of the activities of the alliance. It is responsible for «disseminating the results and good practices of the project» to an audience «as wide as possible».
UNIVERSITY OF AZORES
Year of creation
1976, as University Institute of the Azores. 1980, with the current name of University of the Azores.
The Republic of Portugal.
Three campuses: Ponta Delgada, on the island of Sao Miguel; Angra do Heroismo, on Terceira Island; and Horta, on Faial Island.
Joao Luis Roque Baptista Gaspar, professor of Geology, volcanologist.
24 Bachelor’s degrees, 25 Master’s programs; 4 Doctorate programs, taught in 4 faculties: Science and Technology, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities, Economic and Business Sciences.
The central library of the UAC is located on the campus of Ponta Delgada. It has three thematic reading rooms. Its Historical Archive section hoards a dozen family, business and association legacies that make it the most important documentary collection about the history of the Azores.
To convert the University of the Azores into an internationally recognized institution for the excellence of its higher education and its research in all the scientific areas in which it assumes competences. (Action Program 2014-2018).