20 years since the creation of Catalonia’s first private university, the Universitat Ramon Llull
The Universitat Ramon Llull (URL) was created 20 years ago and brought together several prestigious educational institutions, such as ESADE, IQS and Blanquerna. Over the last 20 years, the university has gained recognition and is now on the European Association of Universities’ board. Banco Santander’s President Emilio Botín, the Spanish Minister for Education and the Catalan political class gathered for the 20th anniversary celebration.
Barcelona (ACN).- On May 10th 1991, the Catalan Parliament unanimously approved the creation of Catalonia\u2019s first private university, the Universitat Ramon Llull. The new university would not be built from scratch but by joining already existing prestigious educational institutions. ESADE business school in the socio-economics field, the Institut Químic de Sarrià (IQS) and La Salle in the engineering and technology camp, and Blanquerna school in the humanities side were, and still are, the university\u2019s core. Other smaller institutions were also involved, or have been added to the project. Some of these are backed by the Catholic Church, even though the URL is not officially a religious university, and in fact religion is not included in the course curricula. Currently, the URL has around 18,000 students and offers degrees adapted entirely to the European Space of Higher Education. It offers more than 100 Masters and 10 PhD programmes. Over the past few years, ESADE has been ranked among the top 10 business schools in the world. Taking these milestones into account, the university\u2019s President, Esther Giménez-Salinas, explained that the university has not stopped growing over the last 20 years; it has not stopped gaining degrees, students, prestige and visibility. \u201CWe started with 3,000 students and 13 degrees\u201D, she recalled. However, Giménez-Salinas concluded that the university already has a great number of students and offers a lot academically, and, therefore, its priority is not increasing those numbers but to sustain the quality of the university and increase its prestige, in line with ESADE\u2019s evolution. She also stated that \u201Calthough URL is a private university, it offers a clear public service\u201D. In addition, she underlined the university\u2019s close links to companies. URL celebrated its 20th anniversary surrounded by top members of the Catalan political and business class, as well as the President of Banco Santander, Emilio Botín.
The Universitat Ramon Llull decided to mark the university\u2019s 20th anniversary by awarding five gold medals to Catalan personalities and to award honour prizes to two international personalities. One of these honour awards was for Emilio Botín, whose bank has been involved in university activities. Botín emphasised the university\u2019s \u201Ccommitment to excellence\u201D. The second award was for the President of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), José Narro. The UNAM has more than 300,000 students and is one of the largest universities in the world. Narro was offered the award to emphasise the Ramon Llull university\u2019s aim for internationalisation and because of the close links Catalonia and Mexico traditionally had, explained the URL Trust\u2019s Chairman, Leopoldo Rodés.
Other people present at the ceremony were the President of the Spanish Constitutional Court, Pascual Sala; the Spanish Minister for Education, Angel Gabilondo; the Catalan Minister for Economy and Knowledge, Andreu Mas-Colell; the President of the Catalan Parliament, Núria de Gispert; Barcelona\u2019s Archbishop and Cardinal Lluís Martínez Sistach; and former Catalan Presidents Jordi Pujol and José Montilla. Gabilondo said that the URL was not only a new university in Catalonia but also \u201Ca new university option in Catalonia\u201D. He also emphasised that this university \u201Chas earned the respect of the entire Spanish and Catalan society\u201D and it is \u201Cone of the best private universities in Spain\u201D. \u201CIf I could speak more freely, I would dare to say greater things\u201D, he added. Finally, Mas-Colell said that all the private universities have followed \u201CURL\u2019s pioneering example\u201D, which has proved to be a \u201Cvery effective model\u201D.