09 Personalising


The student at the center of educational innovation

Daniel Serra

Today the University faces big challenges if it is to be socially useful and relevant to people, businesses and society. In the digital age, the responsibilities demanded of it have little to do with those of years gone by. The new generations already have a different way of understanding life, the professions and the world of business. Moreover, professions are changing and disappearing and new professions and forms of organization are emerging. This compels us to rethink education.

Nowadays it is not enough to offer a classical business education. Business schools all over the world are losing market share and for that reason the most innovative schools are taking advantage of this moment of crisis to transform and adapt the studies they offer to alternative models.  Stanford in California, the Rotman School in Canada, Kaos Pilot in Denmark and the New School in New York are already applying new models of education which highlight concepts such as personalization, practical learning, mentoring and multi-disciplinary studies.

We have to accept that, on the one hand, new generations of students are demanding new models of learning and, on the other, companies are demanding managers with a more comprehensive background. Hierarchical organization is already being replaced by a more horizontal approach which requires versatile professionals with a multidisciplinary background. Professional specialization, so highly praised in the past, is now making way for the development of the student’s full potential. In training schools we are now facing the need to reorient and redesign the basis of education and reorient it to more personalized models. Putting the student in the center means putting the organization at the service of the student. Ken Robinson, one of the leading international experts on educational issues, warns us that in many educational centers the students seem more like workers than students and he talks about the need to move from a model of education based on production to a model that focuses on helping people to discover their talents, to understand the world that surrounds them and to learn to adapt their individual skills to the needs of society.

The UPF Barcelona School of Management is thus committed to: enabling students to achieve the maximum development of their skills, form their own criteria, and make decisions freely and responsibly.

How? Students develop their learning project as a personal challenge with individualized counseling and an educational process based on “learning by doing”. Because doing something for yourself is reassuring and enhances the value of the result and because we aim to give students the flexibility needed for their learning to be as effective and efficient as possible. To achieve this we use a multidisciplinary-interdisciplinary approach, which can combine subjects which have been unrelated up to now, like Business Analytics and Design Thinking or Finance and the Humanities, and is designed for the integrated development of the individual’s physical, social, interpersonal and artistic skills.

Because we are not all identical, we must train professionals who are different but prepared to exercise effective leadership and management in public or private organizations.

Daniel Serra

Daniel Serra

Dean of the UPF Barcelona School of Management


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