The URV gets more research funding through competitive calls

The information presented to the Governing Council shows that parity has been achieved among the leaders of research groups in the last call for recognized groups, but there are still inequalities in the careers of the teaching staff

Two reports were presented to the Governing Council on 19 October describing the University’s activity. The Research and Innovation Report uses data from the year 2022 to show the increase in resources obtained for research projects, especially through competitive calls, in a year of changes in the European programme. On the other hand, the Gender Equality Report, which examines the University’s progress in terms of equality between women and men, notes that there are more women in all groups of the URV community than there are in the Catalan and Spanish public university system, but gender inequalities persist in career promotions and the participation of women in leadership and decision-making positions.

There is one exception, however: up to 52 % of the research groups recognized in the 2021 call for grants to fund the scientific activity of research groups in Catalonia are led by women, when in the previous call, in 2014-16, this percentage was only 24 %. This AGAUR call, then, shows that, as far as the leadership of research groups is concerned, there is parity, although the number of women leading competitive research projects still does not reflect their importance as a group.

Research and innovation report

The vice-rector for Research, Marina Galià, confirmed the upward trend in the uptake of economic resources by the University’s staff and highlighted the change in the leadership of research groups. The resources raised in 2022 totalled 46.2 million euros, 26.9 % more than the year before, an increase that is explained, above all, by the increase in the amount of funding received through the calls in which the University competes with other universities and research centres. Thus, URV research groups have attracted 21.4 million euros for research projects, 19.5 % more than the previous year. Coinciding with a change in European programme (from Horizon 2020 to Horizon Europe), there has been an exponential leap in terms of European projects, three times higher than in 2021.

Similarly, the funds raised by URV-affiliated organisations, which include URV researchers, have increased by 59 % in one year (to 11.3 million euros). Non-competitive funding has also increased (from 6.1 to 9.2 million euros) but not in the case of affiliated organisations.

Indexed scientific production has remained stable, as has the number of the most cited articles. Sixty-three percent of the articles are open access and ten percent are interdisciplinary and, therefore, the result of researchers from different branches of knowledge collaborating. In this regard, Galià explained that the challenge for the future is to “structure research so that researchers from different fields are brought together so that they can carry out interdisciplinary research.” Along these lines, the new Strategic Research Plan identifies, among others, the areas of knowledge that can facilitate multidisciplinary research: health sciences, computer sciences and applied mathematics, advanced materials, climate change and energy transition, and social sciences.

Report on “Gender equality at the URV”

Cilia Willem, director of the Equality Unit, presented the disaggregated data in the report “Gender Equality at the URV.” The percentage of women among the teaching staff is greater than that of men (53 %) (parity was reached in 2017). However, the percentage of women in the various fields of knowledge is unequal: most are in the arts and humanities and health sciences, but only 17% are in engineering and architecture. The type of contract is also unequal: women are mostly part-time. Thus, women do not hold as many full-time teaching positions (44 %) as men, but they account for 56 % of adjunct lecturers. This inequality continues in the highest category: there are 4.4 female professors for every 10 men, 0.4 points more than in 2011. However, the change in the leadership of the research groups in the last call is important.

The situation of the technical, management and administrative staff is as follows: 68 % are women (this figure has remained stable since the first data was collected in 2007), although there are differences between publicly contracted and university-contracted staff. A total of 83 % of the publicly contracted staff are female, but this percentage drops in the highest category (A1) to 62 %. Women account for 52 % of the university-contracted staff, but 56 % of the highest category (Group I) and 53 % of temporary staff.

As far as students are concerned, enrolment in the different educational levels continues to be unequal, although there is a slight upward trend in master’s and doctoral degrees: women account for 60.2 % of undergraduate students, 54.8 % of master’s students and 52.1 % of doctoral students. Enrolment in STEM degrees remains stable at around 11 %. In 2022, the trend to dropout initiated during the pandemic slowed down and the dropout rate returned to around 12 % for girls and remains at 18 % for boys (whose dropout rate had not undergone the same changes).

Monitoring the Energy Emergency Plan

The rector reported on the monitoring of the Energy Emergency Plan, which envisaged a 20 % saving in consumption. Although the price now seems to have stabilised (between 90 and 100 euro/kWh, twice as much as before the energy crisis), the impact of the temperatures this autumn and winter needs to be observed as does the context of global uncertainty. If a saving of 20% can be made, this would be 800,000 euros less than if containment measures had not been taken. Thus, the increase in expenditure forecast for 2023 was almost 2 million euros, while with the savings measures it will be around 1.2 million euros. The rector confirmed that “we are on track to achieve the 20% saving we have set.”

New Salou Costa Daurada Chair in Innovation and Tourism Research

The Governing Council has approved the creation of the Salou Costa Daurada Chair in Tourism Innovation and Research, directed by Marta Nel·lo, with funding from the Salou Municipal Tourism Board and the Tarragona Provincial Council. Its objectives are to use the knowledge generated by tourism studies to improve the area’s competitiveness; to provide tools to improve the visitors’ experience and the locals’ quality of life; to reinforce the link between society and tourism by incorporating the locals’ point of view in tourism management bodies with proposals for shared governance such as talks and participatory processes; to facilitate cooperation between public and private agents, between institutions and companies in the area; to encourage young people (students) to get involved in the industry and the tourism sector, and to position the Costa Daurada as a reference point for tourism, and from the academic and research perspective.

Student disciplinary regime

The University Coexistence Act of 2022 defines offences, establishes sanctions and regulates disciplinary procedure, and the disciplinary regime for students has been adapted to this law. Offences have now been regulated and alternative measures of an educational or remedial nature proposed. These have now been approved by the Governing Council.

Call for teaching and research staff vacancies

The Governing Council has agreed to advance the competitive selection process of the stabilisation plan for teaching and research staff who end their contracts in 2024 (five positions), to modify the teaching and research staff, and to call 25 positions for lecturers and adjunct lecturers as part of the plan of the Catalan Government 2023, two more positions for tenured university lecturers, one associate lecturer and five full professors.

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