VICE PRESIDENT CALLED TO WORK WITH HIGH STANDARDS OF ACADEMIC INTEGRITY
GILDA CARRASCO INAUGURATED THE XII CONFERENCE ON RESEARCH AND GRADUATE STUDIES THAT IN THIS VERSION UNDERLINED THE NEW RESEARCH SAP OF THE UTALCA.
November 18, 2016
Academic Vice President Gilda Carrasco mentioned that one of the challenges that arise when building a complex university implies counting with high standards of academic integrity, both in research and in the training of professionals. At the same time, she called to form a seal of quality in this respect, when opening the XII Conference on Research and Graduate Studies of our University.
This academic activity, organized by the Research Office and the Graduate School - under the Academic Vice President- was held at the auditorium of the School of Medicine. Unlike previous versions, this time it gathered novel researchers from our institution, covering different disciplines, from the scientific and technological to the humanities and social sciences. Among them, there were researchers of Fondecyt Initiation into research projects, doctoral fellows and also undergraduate students carrying out their research theses.
When welcoming the participants, Gilda Carrasco reflected on some guidelines for research and graduate studies included in the 2020 Strategic and in the institutional improvement Plans. Among other considerations, the Vice President underlined the accreditation of graduate teaching at the institutional level, an achievement that few universities can talk about and, at the same time, she highlighted the existence of seven accredited doctoral programs to date. "This is in addition to the fact that we have the highest rate of national graduate studies accreditation, including the masters and doctoral studies programs, and specialties in the area of dentistry", she detailed, together with remarking that the number of graduate students exceeds one thousand.
On the other hand, she observed that Chile has today the largest number of researchers who compete for similar sources and amounts of financing; meanwhile, the Higher Education Bill is still being discussed, which generates insecurity in the academic communities that do not know clearly about the resources available, because of the fact of the concentration of the funds in Santiago.
How to Move Forward
In this context, the Vice President raised the question of how a public university as the UTALCA can continue to aspire not only to be the best regional state university, but also to become a complex university, which entails advancing in research and graduate programs.
In this regard, she specified that it was detected the need to improve internal policies in research, creations and graduate studies, strengthening the doctoral cloisters, improving quality management in research and graduate courses and have a more active participation of PhD students and former students.
In particular, Gilda Carrasco talked about a goal that the complex universities of the world "are inserting in their DNA", and which concerns the academic integrity in the development of research and student training. "Any university that calls itself a research or complex university should ensure that this research is carried out with high standards of academic integrity, i.e. where strict codes of ethics are followed, favoring the development of good research practices," she emphasized. As a positive fact, she mentioned the existence of ethics committees in the University.
"It is the task for all of us, here, to build a seal of quality in research with academic integration", she said.
At the plenary conference entitled "Science and Technology in Chile: Conicyt and the National Challenges", researcher Isabel Meneses, Director of the Associative Research Program of that agency, argued that there is a growing demand in research, but the budget that has not changed for two years, except for an increase in the GDP. "There has not been a deliberate action to increase funds in science and technology, so that we are now facing a problematic situation," she said.
Concerning our University, she stated that it has a very high percentage of projects awarded, which in her view it means that good initiatives are being presented. "It also stands out that the university is very much in keeping with its environment, which is agricultural. And if the agricultural sector is important to the region, so it is also for Chile, because of our dependence on exports. It is a university that takes advantage of all the instances", she said, and concluded that the institution is "in good standing".
In general terms, Isabel Meneses noted that there should be more visibility with regard to research, and she indicated that what it is being done in that respect is not enough. "There is something here that we are handling wrongly and we are going to have to agree at any point on how to show the people that what is done in Chile is good. There are people who do not know that research is done here or do not know in what, or how good it is. There is a lot of science that is done with absolutely international standards and it is essential to let that to be known," she said.
One of the new researchers who participated in the conference is Luis Morales, from the Institute of Biological Sciences, who was trained as an undergraduate and as a PhD at the UTALCA and who now participates as an academic. In his opinion, the country is maybe at an inflexion point, where "we can go to heaven, if we do the right things, if policies accompany us, or we can fall down."
"We are in a complex scenario; it is difficult to get resources nowadays, but that requires us to be creative and make better research and of better quality, not only in number," said Morales, who develops an initial Fondecyt project on the Chilean strawberry.
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