Speaking at the third Universia International Presidents’ Meeting in Rio de Janeiro this week, Emilio Botín, the executive chairman of Santander, said that 40 per cent of the money would fund scholarships to improve the international mobility of students and professors; 30 per cent would “foster research, innovation and entrepreneurship at universities” and the remaining 30 per cent would support academic projects and initiatives aimed at “modernising and incorporating new technologies” in universities.
Universia is a Santander-sponsored network of universities in Iberia and the Americas, made up of 1,290 universities in 23 countries. More than 1,000 university presidents from 33 countries participated in the Rio conference.
The investment, part of a so-called Rio Charter unveiled at the conference, “represents not only a declaration of principles but also a magnificent plan for the Ibero-American universities to play a relevant role in the years ahead”, Mr Botín, who is also president of Universia, said.
He also highlighted six key themes that had emerged from the discussions that had taken place, including a desire for university leaders to “play a significant role” in social, institutional, cultural and economic development at a national level, and the need for universities to meet the “demands and expectations of both students and communities”.
The development of better international university relationships was also key, he said, along with investment in innovation, better university-business collaboration, and the integration of digital practices at an institutional level, something he said was “a primary challenge for universities”.