The Vanguardia Program at the University of Cuenca (UC).
What is the Vanguardia Program?
The Vanguardia Program (‘VP’) is an excellence program for students with an interest and capacity towards a science and research career. It is similar in inspiration to ‘Honours Programs’ offered by many leading universities. The program is offered as part of the last four semesters of the regular curriculum of the student. It consists of courses and study activities integrated into (rather than additional to) the study program, that represent about 15% of the regular workload of the student. The courses and activities focus on academic English, the nature of science, design of scientific research, specific methodologies for conducting research and for analyzing results, and the application of these concepts and methods in the context of the personal dissertation of the student.
Why does UC offer a Vanguardia Program?
There are fundamentally three reasons for offering this program, in analogy with similar programs offered by leading universities worldwide:
1. The VP allows academically excellent students to fully realize their intellectual potential, supporting them in their future careers in scientific investigation inside and outside the university. Moreover, its aim is to prepare and assist students to obtain admission to advanced study programs at leading institutions abroad and to ensure funding for such studies. Also participants will receive specific support to allow them to complete a dissertation of high quality within strict time limits.
2. The VP is an element of the strategy of the Universidad de Cuenca to achieve academic excellence.
Such excellence is fostered in the short run by specific attention to academically outstanding students and to their research activities. At mid-term, the University needs to select, train and recruit its future academic staff. In the present environment, this requires a pro-active strategy, with the University itself assuming responsibility for attracting and motivating students for a future academic career at the university.
3. The VP is consistent with the strategy and policy of the educational and government authorities of the country of Ecuador, which aims to form the future scientific and academic elite of the country as well as to develop a base of citizens and institutions to generate and diffuse knowledge and improve the well-being and the economic and social performance of the country and its population.
Who is involved in the Vanguardia Program?
Various parties are involved in designing and conducting this program:
1. Students of the university.
The VP is not only for academically outstanding students, but it is also ‘made by’ the participants to the program. Admission is open to all students who have excelled academically in their first years of study and who have succeeded in the admission procedure.
2. Professors and researchers of the University of Cuenca.
The VP enjoys the support of many professors and young researchers of the university, who assume an active role in coaching the ‘Vanguardistas’.
3. Professors and researchers from Flanders (Belgium).
The VP initiative enjoys the moral and financial support of VLIR, the Interuniversity Council of the Universities of Flanders. Since many years, Flemish universities collaborate intensely with the University of Cuenca in several research projects and in a program to strengthen the University’s academic structures and processes.
Academics from Flemish universities are involved in the design and in the implementation of the VP.
4. The Rector, the rector’s services and the Academic Council of the Universidad de Cuenca.
The VP enjoys the personal support of the highest authorities of the University, a signal of the strategic importance of this initiative for the University.
The rector of the university, professor Fabian Carrasco, takes a personal and direct interest in the Vanguardia program and offers the support of his administration in order to make this program a success.