For rector Francisco Rubio, the University of Las Palmas is characterised by its youth, technical origins and support from local society. "The university was something local people really wanted and which they fought to achieve," he says. "You tend to really appreciate something when you fight for it."
The university on Gran Canaria was founded in the 1980s expansion of Spanish higher education.
"Prior to the university, wealthier students from Gran Canaria either went to study in La Laguna or on the Spanish mainland, but young people from poorer backgrounds simply did without," says Professor Rubio.
Its Atlantic location off Africa has influenced the courses on offer at Las Palmas. Spain's first faculty of marine sciences was set up in 1982 and enjoys an international reputation. Tourism studies are provided at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
A consortium with local business people and government gives tourism students the chance to do work placements in a five-star hotel.
Other qualifications include translating and interpreting and technical diplomas in engineering for shipbuilding.
Promoting active links with industry is relatively recent in Spanish universities, yet Las Palmas has netted over Pounds 3 million of research contracts a year, ranking it fifth nationally.
"This is significant as we have a very weak industrial fabric here, very fragmented and made up of small businesses," says Francisco Quintana, director of the University-Industry Foundation. "There are no big companies in the Canaries."