University of the sea between three continents

The University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria produces marine-maritime science of excellence. Also stands out in health economics, logistics and transport, renewable energy and tourism. Its Scientific and Technological Park, its experience in international programs and the Canary Islands links with Europe, Africa and America streghten the Campus RUP project.

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THE UNIVERSITY of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in this 2019 meets thirty years since its creation by popular acclaim. Its origin in the citizen demonstrations called to ask the regional Government for a complete university –the island had a Polytechnic University since 1979– gives it character. The ULPGC is focused on the development and internationalization of the local economy, which provides qualified young people and transfers R+D+i from a Scientific and Technological Park that is one of the pillars of its institutional strategy. There, researchers and entrepreneurs cooperate to bring the market technology-based companies. Its boiling shows the social roots of the ULPGC. In the Canary Islands, its two public universities are the first pole of innovation by number of researchers and projects, and by investment.

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria contributes to Campus RUP –the consortium of universities in the outermost regions of the European Union– marine-maritime sciences research recognized as a campus of international excellence since 2010. It is also a benchmark in health economics and public policies, logistics and transport, renewable energy and tourism. The specialization in the sea goes through the education and research offer of the ULPGC. It does not only focus on oceanography and marine biology, but also guides research in renewable energies towards blue innovation and promotes cultural, historical and economic studies with a focus on the position of the Canary Islands between three continents.

The reference of the sea –the university states in its Strategic Plan 2015-2018– is «an opportunity to grow, to internationalize and achieve excellence and a highly productive R+D+i specialization». The marine focus of this university has a decisive influence on the S3 smart specialization strategy of the Canary Islands, in which the activities related to the so-called «blue growth» in emerging sectors such as renewable energies, energy efficiency, water technologies, services associated with ecosystems stand out of marine protected areas, biotechnology and aquaculture.

The marine specialization of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is one of the competitive advantages of the Campus RUP in the call for projects of the European Universities Initiative, to which the consortium is opting for a university project in the outermost regions. The years 2020 to 2030 will be the Decade of the Sea for the United Nations, which prepares an extensive agenda on the governance, conservation and use of the resources of the seas and oceans. The OECD foresees the takeoff of the emerging industries of the blue economy in the next ten years. By 2030, offshore wind energy will generate a global business of 200,000 million euros and 435,000 full-time jobs. World aquaculture is growing at a rate of 5% since 2011, and will be a business of 10 billion euros by 2030, according to the OECD estimate. The European Commission has published its second report on blue economy in May 2019. Among its most significant data, it is indicated that wind energy at sea already represents 5 out of every 10 jobs in the wind sector in the European Union, and that the installed power in ocean energy – tides and tides, fundamentally – will pass from 38.9 megawatts (MW) to 5 gigawatts (GV), with an expected investment of 18,000 million euros, in the next ten years.


The ULPGC has 1,000 researchers and about 1,000 doctoral students. In its 161 research groups, 195 projects of oceanography, climate change, health economics and public policies, logistics and transport, aquaculture, tourism, nutrition, microelectronics and new information technologies are developed. The university had a budget of 138.25 million euros in 2017 and captured another 26.09 million in public and private contributions for research projects.

There are 22,000 students in its six campuses –three in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, one in Arucas, one in Fuerteventura and one in Lanzarote. They are enrolled in one of its 41 undergraduate programs, six double-degree programs, 25 university master’s degrees – those that give access to the doctorate and the research career – and 13 doctoral programs. The ULPGC also teaches five undergraduate degrees through the virtual campus on the Internet.

In the Campus RUP alliance, the ULPGC coordinates the working package to design and put into operation the online platform from which the two titles of the consortium will be taught, a Master in European Studies and another in Blue Economy. The University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is also in charge of the general management of the Campus RUP project and, together with the University of the Antilles, of the work plot in which the operation of the virtual campus and the system are tested. of recognition of academic credits among the seven universities of the alliance.

Richard Clouet: «Each OR is the last frontier of the EU and the nexus necessary with other continents»

International experience is another of the strengths that the ULPGC brings to the Campus RUP project. In the last five years, the university has led exchange projects with Tunisia, the Southern Mediterranean basin, Latin America, Central Asia and Southeast Asia. Within the EU-RUP area, the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has promoted and managed the UNAMUNO network, the background of Campus RUP in the cooperation of the universities of the outermost regions.

Its international vision is to «serve as a platform for cooperation in the development of countries with traditional ties with the Canary Islands, such as those of Latin America, or those that are closer, on the African continent,» according to the University Rector’s team. Rafael Robaina Romero in the Campus RUP project, submitted to the February 2019 call of the European Universities Initiative, within the Erasmus Plus program.


The questionnaire of the European Commission to the universities that make up the consortium includes the question of why they have joined together and what benefits they will bring together. The University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has responded, highlighting the commitment of the Campus RUP alliance «with the progress and development of the outermost regions». The ULPGC points out that the project «is totally focused on the benefits of a research and education partnership that allows the ORs to collaborate and develop resources put together to advance the implementation of the European Higher Education Area».

The University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria will move 15,730 university students –including students, professors, researchers, doctoral students and administration and services staff–  through the exchange platform of the Campus RUP. 220 will stay at the universities of the Azores, Madeira, La Réunion, the Antilles and French Guiana and the rest –15,510– will be formed in the other universities of the alliance through the virtual campus. In total, 70% of the university community will benefit from physical and virtual mobility among the seven universities of the consortium during the next three years.

In its strategic plan for the years 2015 to 2018, the ULPGC highlights the «unequivocal commitment to the sea» and a tri-continental projection as features of the distinctive position of this Atlantic university that does not forget its origin at the base of the local society that promoted its creation and to which it decisively helps to prosper, transferring knowledge and training its young people in the careers of the future. Thirty years later, the monumental sculpture of The Thinker forged by Martín Chirino (1925-2019), emblem of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and an iconic presence on its main campus, symbolizes the universality with deep roots that define the modernity of this ultraperipheral university in the European Space of Higher Education.

El Pensador de Martín Chirino
Escultura ‘El Pensador’, de Martín Chirino, en el campus de Tafira de la Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Martín Chirino’s ‘The Thinker’, in the main ULPGC campus in Tafira, Gran Canaria island.– Foto: @ El Coleccionista de Instantes.


Year of creation

1989 Previously, the city had a Polytechnic University, created in 1979.




Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.


Rafael Robaina Romero.


41 undergraduate studies, 6 double undergraduate degrees, 25 master’s programs, 13 doctoral programs. The ULPGC has 36 departments: 12 in engineering and architecture, 11 in science and health sciences, 6 in social and legal sciences, and 7 in art and humanities.


848,000 volumes. 16 libraries


The ULPGC is a university arising from a popular aspiration, committed to the continuous improvement of the quality and efficiency of the public service it provides to society. Its basic objectives are:

  • Train competent, educated, responsible and supportive people.
  • Generate, apply and disseminate knowledge
  • Collaborate in the economic progress and social welfare of the Canary Islands.
  • Create and extend culture and promote international relations from our Atlantic insularity.


«We intend to achieve an autonomous university in its thinking and in its internal development, with high levels of self-government. An innovative university in teaching, research, management and social impact activities; that builds and radiates culture in its environment; concerned about environmental quality and sustainable development; that enhances solidarity among peoples and cooperation; that contributes to the solution of social problems and promotes international relations from our Atlantic insularity».


  • Efficiency and commitment to the university community and the society that finances and sustains it;
  • The search for excellence in teaching, research, institutional management and the provision of services;
  • The contribution to the economic, social and cultural development of the Canary Islands;
  • Transparency in management and accountability;
  • The active participation of all the members of the university community;
  • The improvement of the environmental quality and the sustainable development of the Canary Islands;
  • The promotion of the Information and Knowledge Society in its geographical and cultural environment;
  • The promotion of international relations and the development of the tricontinental vocation;
  • The commitment to teaching innovation and learning throughout life;
  • The defense of equity and equality of opportunities, respect for ideas in freedom;
  • Intercultural coexistence and social justice;
  • The promotion of solidarity and cooperation among peoples, with special attention to development, the defense of social values ​​and active presence in social, cultural and other forums.

Selección de Europa Rup

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