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Cuba strategy and IUC partner identification mission report

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The document “Cuba Country Strategy” was prepared as part of a partner identification mission on Higher Education between Cuba and the Flemish community of Belgium. This mission report was financed by the Flemish Interuniversity Council - University Development Cooperation (VLIR-UOS).

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Cuba strategy and IUC partner identification mission report

  1. 1. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report November 2011 Julie Carpenter Carlos Alberto Vigil Taquechel
  2. 2. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report Table of contents Acronyms iv 1. Mission Context and Background 1 1.1. Introduction 1 1.2. Geography 1 1.3. Socio-economic analysis 1 1.4. Political structure 2 1.5. Economic performance 3 1.6. Development priorities 4 1.6.1. Food security 4 1.6.2. Agricultural sector reform 5 1.6.3. Environment and climate change 5 1.7. The Cuban higher education system 5 2. Mission Objectives and Expected Results 9 2.1. Objectives 9 2.2. Expected results 9 3. Mission Activities 10 3.1. Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID) 10 3.2. MES 10 3.3. Ministry for Foreign Trade, Investment and Cooperation (MINCEX) 12 3.4. Delegation of the European Union (EU) 12 3.5. Universidad de Matanzas (UMCC) 13 3.6. Cuba National Seminar 13 3.7. Universidad de Camaguey (UC) 13 3.8. Universidad de Oriente (UO) 14 3.9. Universidad de Granma (UDG) 15 3.10. Universidad Central de Las Villas (UCLV) 15 3.11. Universidad de Cienfuegos (UCF) 16 3.12. UNDP Representation in Cuba 17 3.13. Universidad de la Habana (UH) 17 3.14. Title level 2 Instituto Superior Politecnico Jose Antonio Echeverría (ISPJAE) 18 3.15. Universidad de Ciencias Informaticas (UCI) 18
  3. 3. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report 3.16. Universidad Agraria de La Habana (UNAH) and the Centro Nacional de Sanidad Agropecuaria (CENSA) 19 3.17. Officina del Historiador de la Ciudad de La Habana (OHCH) 20 3.18. UNESCO Regional Office for Culture, Havana 20 4. Mission Findings and Accomplishments 22 4.1. Higher education and research: status and policy environment 22 4.1.1. University extension 22 4.1.2. Strategic focus on national development priorities 22 4.1.3. Governance and sustainability in MES HEIs 23 4.1.4. Collaboration and networking in HE and research 23 4.2. Observations resulting from the interaction with local stakeholders 24 4.2.1. MES views on strategic directions for Flemish university cooperation 24 4.2.2. The impact of budget deficiencies on infrastructure and facilities 24 4.2.3. Overall assessment of strengths of HEIs visited 25 4.2.4. Internal and external ICT network access 26 4.2.5. Staff mobility 27 4.2.6. Potential for HEIs to develop income-generating initiatives/partnerships 28 4.2.7. Transferring research into policy and practice 28 4.2.8. International profile of Cuban HE 28 4.2.9. Existing links and contacts with Flemish universities 29 4.3. Strategic niches for VLIR-UOS 31 4.3.1. Regional focus 31 4.3.2. Themes 31 4.3.3. Transversal needs and opportunities 33 4.3.4. Domains 35 4.3.5. Collaboration within networks 39 4.3.6. Partnership modalities (portfolio of intervention types) 39 4.3.7. Non-academic partners and stakeholders 40 4.3.8. Potential IUC partners 41 4.3.9. Contribution and opportunities for Flemish non-university HE institutions 41 4.4. SWOT analysis of a VLIR-UOS strategy with Cuba 41 5. Lessons Learned 43 5.1. Strong national experts 43 5.2. Lack of experience in strategic planning among HEIs 43 5.3. The length of the mission 43 Annex 1: Programme outline 45 Annex 2: Main stakeholders and contacts 51 Annex 3: Cuba strategy summary status report 57
  4. 4. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report Annex 4: Local seminar report (participants, programme) 64 Annex 5: Completed VLIR-UOS institution fact sheets 70 Annex 6: Country strategy framework from Flemish (north) seminar) 141
  5. 5. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report Acronyms AECID Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional al Desarrollo ALBA Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América CAELTIC Centre for Advanced English Language Training for International Collaboration CAPES Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (Brazil) CENSA Centro Nacional de Sanidad Agropecuaria CIDA Canadian International Development Agency CIDEM Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de Estructuras y Materiales CIGB Centro de Ingeniería Genética y Biotecnología CIM Centro de Inmunología Molecular CIMAGT Centro de Investigación para el Mejoramiento Animal de la Ganadería Tropical CITMA Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Medio Ambiente CNIC Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas CNPq Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (Brazil) COSUDE Agencia Suiza para el Desarrollo y la Cooperación CTG Close the Gap CUC Cuban convertible pesos CUJAE Ciudad Universitaria José Antonio Echeverría (see also ISPJAE) CUP Cuban non-convertible pesos EEPFIH Estación Experimental de Pastos y Forrajes "Indio Hatuey" EU European Union FAO Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations GIS Geographical information system HE Higher education HEI Higher education institution HRD Human resources development ICA Instituto de Ciencia Animal ICT Information and Communication Technology IFAL Instituto de Farmacia y Alimentos IFS International Foundation for Science INCA Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Agrícolas IPK Instituto de Medicina Tropical Pedro Kouri ISPJAE Instituto Superior Politécnico José Antonio Echeverría (see also CUJAE)
  6. 6. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report IUC (VLIR-UOS) Institutional University Cooperation JAN Junta de Acreditación Nacional K.U.Leuven Katholieke Universiteit Leuven MDG Millennium Development Goals MES Ministerio de Educación Superior MINCEX Ministerio de Comercio Exterior, Inversión Extranjera y Cooperación MINED Ministerio de Educación MINSAP Ministerio de Salud Pública NGO Non-governmental organisation OHCH Oficina del Historiador de la Ciudad de La Habana PCM Project Cycle Management UC Universidad de Camagüey UCF Universidad de Cienfuegos UCMH Universidad de Ciencias Medicas de La Habana UCI Universidad de Ciencias Informáticas UCLV Universidad Central de Las Villas UDG Universidad de Granma UG Universidad de Guantánamo UGent University of Gent UH Universidad de La Habana UHOLM Universidad de Holguín Oscar Lucero Moya ULT Universidad de las Tunas UMCC Universidad de Matanzas Camilo Cienfuegos UNAH Universidad Agraria de La Habana UNDP United Nations Development Programme UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNICA Universidad de Ciego de Ávila UNISS Universidad de Sancti Spíritus UO Universidad de Oriente UPR Universidad Pinar del Rio USD United States dollar VLIR Vlaamse Interuniversitaire Raad (Flemish Interuniversity Council) VLIR-UOS VLIR University Development Cooperation
  7. 7. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report VUB Vrije Universiteit Brussel Table of figures Figure 1: Distribution of Cuban HEIs by Province 6 Figure 2: Total academic staff in MES HEIs in academic year 2010-2011 7 Figure 3: Enrolled full-time students MES HEIs in academic year 2010-2011 7 Figure 4: Total staff in MES HEIs with postgraduate qualifications: academic year 2010-2011 8 Figure 5: Identified research themes and sub-themes prioritised by Cuban HEIs 32 Figure 6: Summary of Flemish academic priority themes and research interests 33
  8. 8. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report 1.Mission Context and Background 1.1. Introduction This mission is part of a process of country strategy identification and IUC selection rolled out by VLIR-UOS in the context of the implementation of the political agreement signed in 2010. This agreement necessitates VLIR-UOS to formulate a strategy for each of its 20 VLIR-UOS partner countries. This will be done in a phased manner, Cuba being one of the first six countries for which a strategy will be formulated by the end of 2011. Missions are conducted by country teams consisting of two experts (one international and one local expert), a member of the Bureau UOS and the VLIR- UOS country desk officer. 1.2. Geography The Republic of Cuba is a free socialist, sovereign, and collective State. Cuba is an archipelago located in the western- most part of the Caribbean Sea, comprising the island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and some 1,600 smaller islands and keys, for a total land area of 110,860 km2. Cuba is the largest island of the grouping of the Caribbean, situated west of Hispaniola island (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and 145 km south of Key West, Florida (US). Cuba is divided into 15 provinces and 1 special municipality (Isla de la Juventud). The former province of La Habana was recently (2010) divided into 2 new provinces: Mayabeque and Artemisa. 75.8% of Cubans live in urban areas. In recent years, population growth has slowed significantly. Cuba is characterized by uniformity in the geographical distribution of its population and the variables that comprise it. The central provinces and the capital have older populations. 1.3. Socio-economic analysis Cuba's population stood at 11.24 million at the end of 2009. The population has largely stabilised, with average annual growth of less than 0.5 percent per year over the past decade, a level which is well below the Latin American average of 1.6 percent. According to official figures, in 2008-09 the population increased slightly, with annual net emigration since 2000 averaging around 30,000 (around 0.3 percent of the population), of whom 20,000 legally migrate every year to the US under a bilateral migration agreement. Both birth and death rates are low compared with the regional average. The demographic profile is one of a rapidly ageing population due to low death rates and emigration, and therefore a rising old age dependency ratio. According to the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the percentage of the population over 65 years rose from 8.4 percent in 1990 to 9.6 percent in 2000, and will rise to 15.8 percent in 2020. The Cuban authorities are concerned with the ageing of the population as well as with the exodus from rural to urban areas. The government is in the process of analysing scenarios of population shifts for the next 15 years. Cuba’s population replacement rate has not been guaranteed since 1978. In 1975, the number of children born per woman was only 1.5. Approximately 79% of deaths occur among the population aged 60 and older. In Cuba, infant mortality and mortality among child under 5 have markedly
  9. 9. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report decreased. The increase in life expectancy at birth is a faithful reflection of the country’s significant reduction in mortality. At the beginning of the20th century, life expectancy was 40 years. In 2005, life expectancy was more than 77 years. Since the beginning of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, particular emphasis has been placed on support policies in the social sector, including education, health and social security, as an essential element of the 'social contract' between the Communist government and the Cuban people. The Human Development Index (HDI) for Cuba is high, at 0.86315, which means that the country ranks 51st out of 182 countries for which data are available. While Cuba ranks second in adult literacy, it comes only 95th in the GDP per capita poverty measure. However, its Human Poverty Index (HPI-1) ranking is 17th among the 135 developing countries for which the index has been calculated. The emphasis placed by the government on the universal provision of basic health care has made Cuba's health statistics comparable to those of industrialised nations. In 2009, life expectancy at birth was 77.97 years (the highest in Latin America and Caribbean region after Chile and Costa Rica) and the infant-mortality rate was 4.7 per 1,000 live births (the lowest in the region). A preventive health care system, based on family doctors serving small patient groups, was developed in the 1980s. Cuba has the highest ratio of doctors to population in the world (633 per 100,000 in 2007). Since around 20,000 physicians out of a total of 71,000 work abroad, the number available on the island is significantly less, but still high by international standards. The state is Cuba's main employer, but the share of state employment has fallen since 1990, when it accounted for 95 percent of total employment. By 2000 it had slipped to 77 percent, but since then it has crept back up to over 80 percent. The main non-state jobs are in the agricultural sector, where traditional private small farmers were joined by members of newly created farm co-operatives, which replaced many of the large state landholdings. New categories of self-employment and family businesses that have been legalised since 1993 have had to operate under tight regulation and high taxes. There are huge disparities in wages between different employment sectors, and especially between those working in tourism with access to Cuban convertible currency (CUC) or other hard-currency, and the rest of the population, which relies on salaries in non-convertible pesos (CUP). A senior specialised physician earns a salary equivalent to €40 per month in CUP, while a parking keeper can earn five times more with tips in CUC. The average monthly salary of a state employee is around the equivalent in United States dollars (USD) of $1533. 1.4. Political structure The Communist Party of Cuba has been the only legal political party since 1965. The Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular (the National Assembly of People’s Power) is the paramount state institution, “representing and expressing the sovereign will of the Cuban people”. Elections to the Assembly take place every five years; the most recent ones were held in 2008. Under the current legislature, the Assembly includes 611 members of which 43 percent are women. Fidel Castro was Head of State and Government from 1959 (marking the date of the revolution that overthrew the regime of General Batista) to February 2008. Raul Castro was elected President of the Council of State by the National Assembly on 24 February 2008. Following his appointment as President of the Council of State, Raul Castro announced a series of reform measures ranging from
  10. 10. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report largely symbolic reforms, such as allowing Cubans to own mobile phones, stay in international hotels or buy DVDs, to farther-reaching reforms such as the lease of agricultural land, the decentralisation of some decision-making in this sector and the liberalisation of private taxi transport. The Party Congress had not met for 12 years when it finally took place in April 2011. The Congress decided on an important number of economic reforms amongst other the liberalisation of limited form of free enterprise and the reduction of the number of civil servants. The US sanctions law precludes any major shift in US policy while either Fidel or Raúl Castro is in power. However, in March 2009, Washington lifted Bush-era restrictions on travel and remittances, and relaxed limits on the sale of food and medicine. Washington announced another round of easing restrictions on remittances and travel in late 2010/early 2011. Any more substantive US opening is likely to come very slowly. In 2006 Cuba signed a “'Peoples' Trade Agreement” with Venezuela and Bolivia, and the resultant access to Venezuelan oil on favourable terms is now a critical part of Cuba’s economy. Other countries have also forged closer ties with Cuba in recent years, including Russia, Brazil, China and other Asian countries like Vietnam. Cuba is very wary of heavy dependence on any one relationship. 1.5. Economic performance Cuba has a dual monetary system. Two currencies are in circulation: the CUC is equivalent to 1.08 USD and to 24 Cuban pesos (CUP). Although there are plans to formulate a strategy to move towards a single currency, which is expected to remove a major barrier to economic growth, the slowing down of the economy in 2009 delayed efforts to bring the two national currencies (CUC and CUP) into closer alignment. The economy has a rather competitive external component (nickel, tourism, biotechnology, services) for which the CUC is used, and a protected and not very efficient domestic component managed in CUP, as well as a parallel economy. In view of its geographical and economic characteristics – small economy, overall poorly developed industrial base, low productivity of the agricultural sector – Cuba depends mostly on imports for its current operation. In 2008, asset imports rose by 43.8 percent and exports by 2.1 percent. The result is a negative trade balance of 10.7 billion CUC (11.5 billion USD), which increased by 4 billion compared to 2007, i.e. a progression equivalent to almost 70 percent of the deficit. Three key trade partners have emerged since the beginning of the decade: a) Venezuela, under the Caracas and Petro Caribe agreements, b) China, with priority being given by the authorities to purchases of consumer and industrial goods of Chinese origin, and c) the United States, which became Cuba’s 5th largest partner in 2007 in spite of the embargo (one way – Cuba can not export to the US). Imports from the US, which had been prohibited by US law since 1961, resumed in 2002, but trade with the US is restricted to imports of food and agricultural and pharmaceutical products. Canada and Spain also carry considerable weight. In 2008, Cuba spent 50 percent of its current budget on agricultural and energy imports. Cuba has the world’s third largest reserves of nickel and cobalt; it exports high quality cigars and rum, and has a service industries, high-tech biotechnology and a high level of performance in ICT and health. Offshore oil drilling operations in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), initially planned for 2009, have been postponed. The Cuban government estimates that there could be 20 billion barrels of oil
  11. 11. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report reserves in its offshore fields. Cuba currently imports 50 percent of its oil from Venezuela on highly preferential terms. Tourism is another important source of income for Cuba, with over 2 million visitors every year bringing gross revenues of 2 billion USD. If the US Congress decided to lift its ban on US citizens travelling to Cuba, this could represent a potential further flow of 2 to 3 billion USD annually. The living conditions of Cuban people are not easy. Overall, the current economic situation of Cuba is serious. Adding to the structural weaknesses of the economic system, coupled with the long-standing impact of the US embargo, the Cuban economy was seriously affected by the combined effect of the 2008 hurricanes (500,000 houses destroyed or damaged, temporary evacuation of some three million Cubans, and overall damage and losses estimated at almost ten billion dollars, i.e. over 20 per cent of Cuban GDP), rising food prices (Cuba imports 80 percent of its food). The whole economy is controlled by the state, which acts not only as a provider of both commercial and non-commercial services, but also as a controller of trade in services. In 1990, the agriculture sector accounted for 10.8 percent of GDP; today, it is estimated at less than 4 percent, even though it employs 18.57 percent of the population. The decline of the sugar industry, a lack of finance for agricultural imports and the weak incentives for farmers have all resulted in a fall in the share of agriculture in the Cuban economy. Until 2002, sugar accounted for around one half of the land area under cultivation, but a radical restructuring programme initiated during that year has halved this area. Today, there are 700,000 hectares devoted to sugar cane in the country, of which close to 50 percent are harvested each year. Eventually, this is expected to facilitate an expansion of other export crops (mainly citrus and tropical fruits), as well as food crops and forestry. Industry accounted for an estimated 25 percent of GDP in 2007, down from 32 percent in 1990. After a sharp decline in industrial production in the early 1990s, new investments have brought a recovery in some industries. These include: nickel mining, steel production, light industries supplying the tourism sector and -since the launch of a new housing programme in the second half of 2005 - the construction materials industry. 1.6. Development priorities 1.6.1. Food security Food security has been declared an issue of national security. The effects of the 2008 hurricanes, the rapid and sustained increase in international food prices, the lack of foreign currency both for imports and for food production inputs, and energy constraints have contributed to ensure that increasing national food production, especially by using endogenous resources and appropriate (low-input) technologies, is a national overarching priority. In this context, a series of measures are gradually being put in place to increase food production by small-holders, as well as improving its efficiency and quality.
  12. 12. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report 1.6.2. Agricultural sector reform As such a reform of the agricultural sector is crucial in order to ensure the sustainability of the process. Main challenges are modernisation, diversification and increase of production. A further difficulty is the economic sustainability of food production in a double currency system. Whereas 60% of inputs are obtained in CUC, by state decree, 90% of sales are in (non-convertible) CUP, thus providing little economic incentive to farmers and cooperatives. Given the above, the sustainable expansion of food production in the Cuban smallholder agricultural sector will primarily depend on the capacity of the Government to facilitate access to inputs (for production and processing) and credit. 1.6.3. Environment and climate change Economic growth and the promotion of a sustainable and equitable social development, while safeguarding the environment and rationalising the use of natural resources, are at the very heart of Cuba's national policies. However, although Cuba has the knowledge, the human capacity and a clear understanding of its needs and priorities, it lacks the financial resources to expand its efforts and to undertake further environment-related studies and investments in key sectors. 1.7. The Cuban higher education system The Cuban higher education (HE) system comprises 68 HEIs (not including military universities): these include 47 universities, 9 higher institutes, 8 schools/academies and 4 independent faculties. All HEIs are public. The Ministry of Higher Education (MES) is responsible for policy in matters of undergraduate and postgraduate education. It controls teaching, methodology, courses and programmes and the allocation of student places. MES is also responsible for the evaluation and accreditation of the whole university system but only 17 institutions are directly under the control of this Ministry.
  13. 13. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report Figure 1: Distribution of Cuban HEIs by Province A significant number of HEIs are under the control of other state bodies, such as the pedagogical institutions that belong to the Ministry of Education (MINED), in charge of primary, secondary, technical and vocational education, or the medical sciences institutions belonging to the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP). Accreditation A University System Accreditation Programme (SUPRA) was established in 1999, implemented by a National Accreditation Board - Junta de Acreditación Nacional (JAN). The Board grants the different categories of accreditation to evaluated academic programmes and institutions. SUPRA includes the Evaluation and Accreditation System for undergraduate programmes (SEA-CU), the Evaluation and Accreditation System for Master’s Degree programmes (SEA-M), the Evaluation and Accreditation System for Doctoral programmes (SEA-DR) and the System for the Evaluation of Institutions (SEI). The accreditation categories granted to post-graduate programmes are as follows: authorised, ratified, certified and excellence for programmes at masters level; and authorised, certified and excellence for programmes at doctoral level. Student and staff numbers According to official figures from the MES, more than 150,000 professionals are involved in academic and /or research work in HEIs: 62,500 of these are full time professors. The same source indicates that since 1959 the Cuban HE system has graduated 1,081,815 professionals (91,902 during the academic year 2009-2010) of which 31,528 were foreign.
  14. 14. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report Figure 2: Total academic staff in MES HEIs in academic year 2010-2011 At the beginning of the academic year 2010-2011 a total of 473,309 students (286.761 women representing 60.5% of the total) were enrolled in some of the 94 undergraduate programmes offered by the Cuban HEIs. A percentage analysis of the number of undergraduate students by areas of science reflects that a significant number of the students were enrolled in the following areas: medical sciences (31.4%), social and human sciences (23.9%) and pedagogical sciences (14.2%). Figure 3: Enrolled full-time students MES HEIs in academic year 2010-2011 With regard to postgraduate studies more than 150,000 students are enrolled in Masters and specialist courses and around 4,000 are registered on doctoral programmes. On average, about 500 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500 Part time Full time 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 9000 10000
  15. 15. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report PhD theses have been defended per year in the last few years and the total of PhD graduates since 1969 is about 10,000. Analysis of PhD theses defended until 2009 shows PhD studies in the following proportions: technical sciences (24%), natural sciences (21%), agricultural sciences (16%) and social and human sciences (14%). Postgraduate studies Postgraduate education include masters programmes (of two or three years), doctoral programmes (varying between three and five years), and short ‘diploma’ courses of between six to 18 months duration). A total of 439 Master programmes are being developed with the approval of the JAN of the MES. The distribution by areas of sciences is as follows: technical sciences (84), pedagogical sciences (78), biomedical sciences (75), social and human sciences (61), economical sciences (60), agricultural sciences (41) and natural and exact sciences (40). Only 39 Master Programmes have been evaluated with the highest level category of accreditation (excellence) including the Universidad de La Habana (UH) with 14 excellency Master programmes, the Instituto Superior Politécnico José Antonio Echeverria (ISPJAE) with nine and the Universidad Central de Las Villas (UCLV) with four. Figure 4: Total staff in MES HEIs with postgraduate qualifications: academic year 2010-2011 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 MSc PhD
  16. 16. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report 2.Mission Objectives and Expected Results 2.1. Objectives Undertake an assessment of national priorities in terms of HE and poverty reduction, as also the possible strategic niches for cooperation between Cuban and Flemish higher education institutes; Consult, through visits, interviews and the hosting of a local seminar, with a wide spectrum of local stakeholders in terms of strategically chosen areas where (1) ‘matching’ of needs and interests should be possible and (2) a VLIR-UOS intervention could yield an optimal result; Undertake an assessment of pre-defined local academic institutions in terms of their IUC potential, per institution and overall; Based on the above, formulate recommendations in terms of a VLIR-UOS strategy, including the relevance and appropriateness of the various VLIR-UOS intervention types. 2.2. Expected results Overview of strategic niche for cooperation taking into consideration the local needs and the Flemish supply; Shortlist of potential in terms of IUC and other initiatives; strengths and weaknesses of each visited institute; link with national priorities, etc. Recommendations formulated in terms of:  potential for transversal support initiatives;  the best possible portfolio (combination of intervention types) for VLIR-UOS cooperation in the country  generic opportunities and constraints for university cooperation for development with the country
  17. 17. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report 3.Mission Activities The following paragraphs summarise the main findings from meetings and discussions with Cuban and non-Cuban stakeholders during the mission. The full mission programme is provided in Annex 1 and the list of persons met in Annex 2. 3.1. Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID) Historically the most active HEIs working with AECID have been UH, ISPJAE, UCLV, UNAH and UO. Other universities in the East such as UDG and UHOLM have increased their participation in AECID projects in the last few years. In the last four years 175 projects have been approved with a financial value of more than €6,6 million. The objective of these projects has been to contribute to development of institutional and scientific capacity in Cuban HEIs. Considering the geographical priorities defined by the government the 2011 call for project proposals was focused on the Eastern region: only HEIs from the East will be able to coordinate interuniversity cooperation projects funded by AECID. The main priorities in this cooperation are local development, environment, quality of water, food production, energy and the improvement of the hospital infrastructure. One of the most important assessment criteria is the prioritising of gender components in the implementation of the projects. Spanish cooperation has also given special attention to rehabilitating Cuban architectural heritage. Joint cooperation projects between Cuba and other Latin American countries with joint funding from AECID and VLIR-UOS could be considered as a possibility and may be of interest to the Flemish institutions [projects 2x1 or 2x2]. Constraints on the implementation of AECID funded projects in the last two years include: the lack of flexibility in Cuba to access funds from international cooperation projects if these external financial sources are not already included in the annual budget of the institution; the lack of availability in the national market of products and services that may be required during the project implementation. As a consequence of this, in most of the AECID projects funds have been held only in Spain, with the Spanish partners assuming the role of buyers and suppliers to the Cuban institutions. 3.2. MES MES highlighted the special role of higher education (HE) in the implementation of the economic changes defined during the recent Congress of the Cuban Communist Party (2010). One of the main missions of the HEIs will be human resource development for properly implementing the new economic and social development policies until 2015. Another important mission in this period will be assistance to local governments in the management and implementation of their policies on local development.
  18. 18. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report The main thematic priorities indicated by the MES are: agro industry and food security, environment, water and soil management, natural and public health disaster prevention, industry and energy, biotechnology, pharmaceutical industry, local development and housing development. Concerning a new potential IUC Programme, the officials of the MES defined their preferred programme on the Eastern region coordinated by the Universidad de Oriente (UO). In their vision, a new programme should have a similar impact to the IUC Programme implemented in the UCLV with more than 50% of the funds allocated to UO for improving its institutional capacity - essentially PhD and MSc programmes and the quality and dimension of its research capacity (see Figure 4 above). From the MES viewpoint the remaining funds should be allocated to foster the development of the Eastern region through the implementation of national networks on priority scientific fields such as: food production and food security which should include participation by the Universidad Agraria de La Habana (UNAH), and the Centro Nacional de Sanidad Agropecuaria (CENSA), Instituto de Ciencia Animal (ICA), Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Agrícolas (INCA), as well as the Estación Experimental de Pastos y Forrajes "Indio Hatuey" (EEPFIH) in Matanzas, UCLV, Universidad de Camagüey (UC), Universidad de Granma (UDG) and UO. MES also envisages a network on applied computer sciences as well as telecommunications with the participation of UO, UCLV, Instituto Superior Politécnico José Antonio Echeverría (ISPJAE) and the Universidad de La Habana (UH) and the participation of other HEIs. It was emphasised that HE is responsible for 50% of the scientific results and 20% of the innovation of the country. For the improvement of these indicators, the officials mentioned the necessity of prioritising PhD Programmes (with an MSc incorporated in the first phase) that reinforce the research activity in the universities as well as their innovation and technology transfer capacity. The improvement of research Infrastructure and ICT in the HEI networks were also indicated as the main priorities for raising standards and quality in HE. These are considered as the major technological problems of Cuban HEIs and, in general, they are addressed by all international cooperation projects that include a budget line for equipment. It was recognised that a major constraint on the sustainability of the HE system is the salaries of the teaching staff which are not competitive in the labour market. There is a significant age gap in the teaching staff of the Cuban HEIs, in which more than 55% of the staff are younger than 35 years old or older than 60. Regarding international cooperation, VLIR-UOS was acknowledged to be the largest single international cooperation donor in HE, in terms of both funding and length of engagement with Cuban HEIs. The following countries/institutions were mentioned among the other donors to the Cuban HEIs: AECID (Spain), COSUDE (Switzerland), CIDA (Canada), CAPES and CNPq (Brazil) and bilateral cooperation with the higher education systems of Mexico and Venezuela as well as other member states of the Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (ALBA). In general, most of the international projects implemented by Cuban institutions have as main outputs the fostering of academic and scientist mobility.
  19. 19. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report 3.3. Ministry for Foreign Trade, Investment and Cooperation (MINCEX) It was confirmed that the biggest national thematic priority is food production. As Cuba imported around the 80% of the food consumed by its population, the government considered essential the fostering and consolidation of its national agricultural system, including the emerging private sector (cooperatives and individual producers). It was also confirmed that the Eastern region is the national geographical priority because of its relative poverty. It was acknowledged that among constraints on the implementation of international projects include the lack of availability in the national market of products and services that may be required during the project implementation; the inconvenience of currency exchange; and the lack of flexibility of the Cuban financial system considering it is necessary to include international funds in the annual budgets of the institutions if they are to be accessed for project implementation. MINCEX confirmed its intention to facilitate the implementation of new VLIR-UOS projects in Cuba and suggested the possibility of creating a Committee comprising representatives from VLIR-UOS, MES and MINCEX for the periodic follow-up of projects and trouble-shooting solutions to minimize these identified constraints and problems. 3.4. Delegation of the European Union (EU) The main sector for EU cooperation is food security, providing equipment and supporting small scale agriculture (cooperatives and individual farmers) and decentralised management of food production. The response to hurricanes and other natural disasters is also a focus of special attention. Some funds have been allocated to infrastructure rehabilitation and the reconstruction and conservation of the Cuban architectural heritage. The EU funds have been channelled through United Nations (UN) agencies and European non- governmental organisations (NGOs) active in agriculture, food security, environment and climate change, social cohesion and cultural cooperation. It was recognised, however, that there are some constraints on attracting European private sector and NGOs to Cuba because of high operation costs. The EU Delegation pays special attention to the improvement of the local institutions as a way to reinforce the economical potential of the municipalities. The EU Delegation does not have much contact with MES and Cuban HEIs. MINCEX, as the national focal point for international cooperation, is its main and only national counterpart. This protocol can pose obstacles to the dissemination of information on EU Programmes and initiatives, as well as the involvement of HEI in some projects supported by the EU. From the viewpoint of the Delegation there is a lack of international cooperation culture and project management competences in most Cuban institutions, including HEIs. The participation of Cuban universities in regional programmes of the EU such as ALFA or AL- INVEST, in international student mobility programmes such as Erasmus Mundus or Erasmus Mundus External Cooperation Windows and the EU´s 7th Framework Programme for Research and
  20. 20. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report Development is extremely limited. The potential for Cuban HEIs to increase their participation in all these platforms of academic and scientific cooperation was recognised. 3.5. Universidad de Matanzas (UMCC) UMCC is a local university of medium size in the context of the Cuban HE system. Its activity is mainly focused on contributing to provincial economic and social development. UMCC lacks potential for an Institutional University Cooperation (IUC) programme, but it has relevant experience in some key areas with the potential for the university’s involvement in other VLIR-UOS projects and programmes: for example: In line with the main economic development areas in Matanzas province, UMCC has significant capacity in the agricultural sector (sugar industry, the production of potatoes, rice and citrus fruit), in the chemical and oil industry (mainly in heavy oil refining), and in environment and tourism. a very important role could be developed by the EEPFIH, a research centre with a large experience in the thematic area of food security and agricultural production; UMCC also has some limited potential for international cooperation in its main research areas: food production, plant biotechnology, pastures and forage, obtaining probiotics, supramolecular chemistry, renewable energy, tourism and heritage planning and conservation. 3.6. Cuba National Seminar See the seminar report in Annex 4. 3.7. Universidad de Camaguey (UC) UC is located in the province of Camaguey, one of the largest of the country and with Camaguey city the third largest in Cuba with 311,000 inhabitants. The province is one of the strategic territories for food production in Cuba (25% of cattle production; 30% of freshwater fish and 50% of shrimp production). Consequently, one of the main research lines of the university is aimed at supporting agricultural development in the Central and Eastern zones of the country. The UC is one of the most multidisciplinary universities of the country with 9 faculties. Its strongest areas are: agricultural sciences, natural sciences, technical sciences and economic and social sciences. In all these areas the university demonstrates good cooperation with other Cuban HEIs. UC also has a number of dynamic research centres with potential for international cooperation, particularly Centro de Estudios Multidisciplinarios de Turismo (CEMTUR) [Cultural Tourism Development and Management], Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo de la Producción Animal (CEDEPA) [Food Security and Agricultural Production] and Centro de Estudios de Dirección Empresarial (CEDET) [Local and Rural Development]. Although the university has few existing contacts with Flemish universities there is potential for development of contacts in fields such as biotechnology in agriculture, livestock management, dairy production and transport
  21. 21. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report The UC shows a reasonable involvement in international cooperation with some postgraduate courses taught in various Latin America countries (Venezuela, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru and Dominican Republic) and postgraduate students from UC have studied in VUB (informatics). Although UC would not yet have the capacity to implement a full IUC programme it has potential, and could now be an active stakeholder in other cooperation initiatives with Flemish universities, such as joint research projects (currently termed Own Initiatives or OIs) and inclusion in a national food security network with UCLV. UCLV is important for UC and they have good relations. 3.8. Universidad de Oriente (UO) UO meets almost all the criteria required by VLIR-UOS for a full IUC programme. It is one of the longest-established and most complete universities in Cuba. It is located in the city of Santiago de Cuba (the country’s second most important city), in the Eastern region. During the visit, the university presented a very well structured policy and strategy for the development and management of science and innovation, with a functional structure of all the strategic areas headed by the Vice Rector of Research and Postgraduate Studies. These policies, strategies also demonstrated a clear awareness of the potential of working across academic structures on multidisciplinary research themes and in cross-disciplinary research teams. The UO has a range of research/study centres of great scientific and technological relevance that offer opportunities of cooperation in various scientific fields. Among the most significant are: Centro de Estudios de Educación Superior (CEES) [Quality of Higher Education], Grupo de Energías Renovables Aplicadas (GERA) [Renewable Energies], Centro de Biofísica Médica (CBM) [Bioengineering and Biomedicine], Centro Nacional de Electromagnetismo Aplicado (CNEA) [Applied Sciences to Industry, Medicine, Biotechnology, Agriculture and Environment], Centro de Estudios de Biotecnología Industrial (CEBI) [Environment, Industrial Biotechnology and Biopharmaceutical Products], Centro de Estudios de Neurociencias, Procesamiento de Imágenes y Señales (CENPIS) [Biomedical Research and Bioengineering], Centro de Estudios de Eficiencia Energética (CEEFE) [Clean and Efficient Energy], Centro de Estudios Turísticos (CETUR) [Socio-cultural and Tourism Development], Centro de Estudios Multidisciplinarios de Zonas Costeras (CEMZOC) [Environment and Coastal Zone Management], Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo Integral de la Cultura (CEDIC) [Local Development] and Centro de Estudios Cuba - Caribe (CECUCA) [Socio-Cultural Development and Regional Integration]. The university participates actively in several national scientific networks, especially those in which the institution has significant capacity, such as: biotechnology, energy, environment, food production, medical equipment and technology, business management, integrated water management, and integrated coastal zone management. UO also seems to have good level of collaboration with enterprises, industries and the provincial governments in the Eastern Region for the implementation of actions in the field of innovation and technology transfer. UO is one of the most active Cuban universities in the field of international cooperation, and is a member of several international university associations, such as Unión de Universidades de. América Latina y el Caribe (UDUAL), Inter-American Organisation for Higher Education (OUI) and Ibero- American Association for University Postgraduate (AUIP) and implements various international projects financed by CAPES (Brazil), AECID (Spain), COSUDE (Switzerland) and CIDA (Canada). The university has good connections with universities in Spain, Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela as well
  22. 22. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report as the Caribbean region. However, the institution has not developed many contacts or any cooperative partnerships with academics in Flemish institutions. Among the main constraints on international research cooperation with UO are the general lack and obsolescence of infrastructure and facilities for research and postgraduate activities and the absence of general support services to research. 3.9. Universidad de Granma (UDG) UDG originated as an agricultural institution of higher education, and its main institutional strengths are still concentrated in the faculties of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, to match the main productive sectors of Granma province: agriculture (40% of the rice production in the country and a one of the major producers of coffee) and livestock. UDG is responsible for the coordination of undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine in the Eastern region. The university has shown very good results in training and advising local farmers, working with cooperatives and independent farmers in the territory in order to improve their production capacities and increase the commercialisation of agricultural products. UDG has a reasonable international cooperation record relevant to its academic and scientific potential: teaching and scientific staff participate in mobility actions and some research projects in cooperation with institutions in Germany, Belgium (one VLIR-UOS OI in saline crop research), Spain, Canada, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and the Dominican Republic, although in the last few years, most collaboration has been focused on Venezuela and Angola. UDG also collaborates extensively at the national level with institutions in the agricultural development networks such as UNAH, CENSA, ICA, UCLV, UC and UO. The campus is located far from the nearest city (Bayamo) with poor transport infrastructure. During the visit, more infrastructure and institutional management shortcomings and problems were evident than in other Cuban universities visited: for instance, buildings and campus facilities showing significant external signs of lack of maintenance and upkeep, buildings and departments were poorly signposted. However, the central library environment and facilities appeared to be attractive, openly accessible and well managed. The institutional strategic vision presented by the administrative board, in terms of academic and scientific development, was the weakest and less structured of all the universities visited. UDG is too weak for the implementation of an IUC programme. Its involvement in cooperation with Flemish universities should remain essentially in the thematic areas of food security, agricultural production and rural development in which the university has experience and good institutional capacity. 3.10.Universidad Central de Las Villas (UCLV) The visit to UCLV allowed the Country Team to verify the great impact that the VLIR-UOS IUC Programme has had on the institution, in terms of infrastructure development and the capacity and human resource development.
  23. 23. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report The university proposed a role for itself in providing specialised assistance and a range of support services to Cuban HEIs in the context of future international cooperation with Flemish universities: this new cooperation framework could include: Functioning as the central node of a technological network for the improvement of distance education within Cuban HE; including training academic staff in the use of ICT and the creation and development of laboratories for the production of educational materials; Providing a platform for the development of joint doctoral programmes based on the scientific links already established between academics in UCLV and Flanders as well as the laboratory infrastructure already installed in the UCLV under the IUC programme; Transferring to other universities the pedagogical model adopted in the Centre for Advanced English Language Training for International Collaboration (CAELTIC) for improving quality in English language communication and writing for academic and scientific purposes, including the training of English teachers from other HEIs; Training of academic and administrative staff from other HEI on Project Cycle Management (PCM); Human resource development in the area of ICT systems and administration and informatics; Hosting ICT services and applications (for example, Web Hosting, Virtualization-VPS cluster computing, etc.) to many universities and centres of the national HE network. In addition to UCLV’s own proposals there is clearly a role, building upon VLIR-UOS supported interventions to date, for UCLV as active coordinator of a national food security network to meet the goals of MES (see paragraphs 0 and 0). 3.11.Universidad de Cienfuegos (UCF) UCF is a small, local university in Cienfuegos province in Central Cuba and its activities are mainly focused on contributing to provincial economical and social development. The university plays an active role in training and advising the main enterprises and industries of the territory (thermoelectric industry, electrical energy production, oil refining, sugar industry, fishing, coffee, citrus, cement and fertilisers). In the context of the current identification mission, the main strength of the university lies in the Centro de Estudios de Energía y Medio Ambiente (CEEMA) which was until recently participating in a VLIR- UOS OI. This research centre develops research in energy efficiency, and it has as a primary objective human resource development in rational energy use and conservation of the environment, training personnel from energy organisations across Cuba. The CEEMA coordinates the energy efficiency network of the Cuban HE system. UCF has developed good cooperation links with other Cuban universities, especially with institutions in the Central and Eastern regions and the institution has cooperation links with universities and institutions in Canada and Spain and participates in several Latin American networks and projects. CEEMA coordinates the Ibero-American network on the management of efficient energy (GEESOS - Gestión y Eficiencia Energética para un Desarrollo Sostenible). CEEMA was also involved between 2008-2010 in the development and finalisation of the International Standard on Energy management Systems (ISO 50001) for the International Standards Organisation.
  24. 24. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report Other areas in which the UCF has scientific potential are the integrated management of coastal zones, the sustainable management of cultural heritage and cultural tourism development. Despite its small size, UCF seems to be well structured and organised, and the rector gave in his presentation evidence of the solid strategic vision of the institution in terms of academic and scientific development. Although UCF does not currently meet the criteria required by the VLIR for an IUC partnership, the university would be a valid stakeholder in cooperation initiatives with Flemish universities in its specialist areas. 3.12.UNDP Representation in Cuba UNDP in Cuba has five main areas of intervention: local human development, food security, prevention of natural disasters and mitigation of risks, environment and energy for sustainable development, and Prevention of HIV/AIDS. Some universities participate in local projects funded by UNDP but in general participation of HEIs in the initiatives promoted by the different bodies of the UN in Cuba is still limited. The Resident Coordinator expressed her interest in fostering the greater involvement of universities in UNDP projects, considering them as key stakeholders for the implementation of sustainable projects. She also expressed her interest for maintaining links with the VLIR-UOS with the objective of identifying potential areas of joint cooperation in the future. 3.13.Universidad de la Habana (UH) Founded in 1728 the UH is undoubtedly the strongest of the Cuban HEIs from any perspective. Its size and national scope and the recognised quality and professionalism of its academics and researchers in Cuba and abroad are its best credentials, though it suffers from poorly resourced and poorly maintained facilities and infrastructure in common with other HEIs. UH already receives considerable external funds through its many international cooperation initiatives (including three VLIR-UOS OIs). UH is made up of many different and quite autonomous faculties, centres and units, and there was little evidence of clear governance and management, including whole institutional policies and strategic vision. UH could not be considered as a candidate for an IUC programme, because of its location and existing strengths in international and national investment. However, the diversity of research lines developed in a multi-disciplinary approach by its 18 faculties and 15 research centres would allow the university to be a key stakeholder in many cooperation themes identified. In the context of the current identification mission, UH’s potential involvement could be considered in departmental/research centre level projects in the following areas: Environment: climate change, biodiversity, renewal energy and coastal zone management through the involvement of the Faculties of Chemistry and Biology, the Centro de Investigaciones Marinas (CIM), the Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología de los Materiales (IMRE), the Centro de Biomateriales (BIOMAT) and the Centro de Estudios de Medio Ambiente (CEMA).
  25. 25. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report Public Health: preventative medicine through the involvement of the Faculty of Biology and the Instituto de Farmacia y Alimentos (IFAL) and the Centro de Estudios de Salud y Bienestar Humano (CESBH). ICT and applications: artificial intelligence and computer sciences, bioinformatics, statistics and biostatistics through the involvement of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Sciences. 3.14.Title level 2 Instituto Superior Politecnico Jose Antonio Echeverría (ISPJAE) ISPJAE is the largest technical university in Cuba and coordinates national collaboration in this field within the HE System. It has six faculties and 10 research centres. While there are evident problems of renewal and maintenance of equipment and facilities on the ISPJAE campus, the institution is recognised for the quality of its teaching and research staff as well as for its active and diverse links with the productive sector, providing assistance to a wide network of enterprises and industries throughout the country. The institution has an active policy of internationalisation which is evidenced through its participation in international projects and networks with many institutions in Europe and Latin America (including two VLIR-UOS OIs and three South Initiatives). While ISPJAE is not a candidate for an IUC programme because of the regional priority and strength of its existing international and national programmes , in the context of the current identification mission, the potential involvement of the ISPJAE should be considered in projects in the following areas: Environment: clean technology and production, clean and efficient energy and renewable energy through the involvement of the Technology Department of the Architecture Faculty, the Geosciences Department of the Faculty of Civil Engineering and the Centro de Estudios de Tecnologias Energeticas Renovables (CETER). ICT and applications: artificial intelligence and computer sciences, bioinformatics, bioengineering, through the involvement of the Bioengineering Department of the Faculty of Electric Engineering and the Centro de Estudios de Ingeniería de Sistemas (CEIS). 3.15.Universidad de Ciencias Informaticas (UCI) UCI was created on the site of a former Russian military base in 2002 as an initiative of Fidel Castro with the twin objectives of training Informatics Science professionals, highly committed to the development of the country, and the production of software and informatics services based on the study-work pedagogical model, serving as a support for the development of the Cuban software industry. UCI was developed under the control of the Ministry of Communications, but its transfer to the MES is currently underway. This institution has been provided with excellent facilities and the technological infrastructure and equipment reach far higher standards than most other HEIs in Cuba. Considering that this is a national and governmental priority institution it is remarkable that only national students have been enrolled in its courses since its foundation. Most of the software and services produced by its students have been developed for Cuban and Venezuelan organisations.
  26. 26. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report Despite its impressive infrastructure, UCI remains a weak institution in terms of its academic and scientific potential. The number of PhD among its teaching staff is very low in comparison with other technical universities of the country and most of the members of the academic staff are former students of the institution. Nonetheless, the university seems to have a good strategy for resolving this weakness in the coming years. It has potential as a stakeholder in future cooperation projects and has offered its facilities as a host of a national centre for postgraduate training on informatics and computer sciences, possibly in collaboration with UCLV (see Error! Reference source not found.). At this stage, this seems to be an excellent way of involving UCI in the future VLIR-UOS programmes in Cuba. 3.16.Universidad Agraria de La Habana (UNAH) and the Centro Nacional de Sanidad Agropecuaria (CENSA) UNAH, CENSA, ICA and INCA integrate a specialist academic and scientific national centre of excellence. This group of institutions has a leading role in the implementation of national policies in the agricultural sector, and these institutions coordinate most of the academic and scientific networks within the HE system. At the same time, the institutions work closely with the Ministry of Agriculture as well as with other research and production institutions related to this economical sector. The university and three research centres have built a good cooperation network with academic and scientific institutions in Latin America and Europe and collaborate with international organisations and NGOs in the implementation of different projects in fields like the rural development and food production. Of particular significance is a pilot project on local management and development of agricultural production that UNAH began to implement recently in the new provinces of Mayabeque and Artemisa (territories of the former Province of Habana). This pilot project is a result of the new economic policy implemented by the national government to empower the private sector and decentralised the national economy. Through this project the UNAH is experimenting new models for the organisation of the agricultural sector. The project includes training and advice to local governments (municipalities), cooperatives and local producers on agricultural business management. Among the main lines of research developed in a coordinated scheme by the 4 centres are:  Sustainable rural development  Sustainable agricultural production  Plant health  Animal health  Animal and plant biotechnology  Animal reproduction  Genetics and animal breeding  Nutrition and bio-fertilisation plant  Production and quality of milk and meat
  27. 27. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report  Soil management  Conservation of soil, water and genetic resources  Development and production of diagnostic kits and drugs for veterinary and agriculture use  Development of technologies for pest management  Applied bioinformatics Considering the definition of food security and agricultural production as the biggest national priority, the involvement of the four institutions that make up UNAH in any projects implemented in this area would be relevant and a significant strength. UNAH has a long history of collaboration and cooperation with Flemish universities including several OIs. 3.17.Officina del Historiador de la Ciudad de La Habana (OHCH) OHCH is the coordinating institution of a unique project in Cuba, for its implementation the National Government gave facilities to the OHCH: under the auspices of the government an entire business system has been established that has allowed the architectural and cultural rehabilitation of the Old Colonial Havana (declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982). Consequently, for the implementation of this socio-cultural project, the OHCH has been gradually creating a wide network of infrastructures (hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, shops, real estate facilities, museums, art galleries, concert halls, etc) that generate significant revenue for the country, which funds further restoration and about 35% of which is invested in housing and other social programmes for the benefit of the resident population Old Havana City. Many of the inhabitants of the old city have also been employed by OHCH. These elements make this project an interesting model of sustainable local development with the potential for transfer to other regions in Cuba and abroad. OHCH has excellent cooperative links with UNESCO, UNDP, EU, and AECID among other international institutions with which it has been working on the implementation of various heritage and social projects. Considering its experience and institutional capacity in such projects, the OHCH has the potential to be a key stakeholder for the implementation of any project focused on the Socio- Cultural and Tourism Development. The existence of a national network of history and conservation offices in all the Cuban world heritage cities (Old Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Camaguey) may be of great assistance for the development of sustainable projects in this field. 3.18.UNESCO Regional Office for Culture, Havana The UNESCO Office in Havana implements diverse programmes in Cuba and other Latin America countries in the global programme areas of UNESCO, including culture, education and natural sciences. The Havana office is the Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean. Its work seeks to directly address the countries development priorities. The office implements its projects in close coordination with the National Commissions for UNESCO, governmental agencies and numerous institutions at regional, national and local level as well as with a large number of NGOs.
  28. 28. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report HE is not a priority programme area for UNESCO (globally). Nonetheless, reasonable contacts exist with MES and UH, which coordinates three of the six UNESCO Chairs in Cuba, (University Management, Information Management in Organisations and Biomaterials). Other important UNESCO Chairs are being established in Cuba on Integrated Conservation Sciences for Cultural and Natural Property, coordinated by the National Centre for Conservation, Restoration and Museology (CENCREM), and on Culture and Development coordinated by the National Training Centre for Culture (both centres belong to the Ministry of Culture). During the meeting it was agreed that potential exists for cooperation with Flemish and Cuban universities in a VLIR-UOS programme or projects in the area of sustainable management of cultural heritage, particularly in a joint programme of training of human resources on the management of cultural heritage, for which UNESCO will develop a preliminary proposal and ideas.
  29. 29. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report 4.Mission Findings and Accomplishments 4.1. Higher education and research: status and policy environment 4.1.1. University extension Four basic principles underpin HE in Cuba, namely: 1) a broad profile curricula, with two leading ideas:  the combination of instruction and education,  a close link between studies and work; 2) continuing education in all fields of knowledge; 3) research as an integral part of the university mission; 4) university extension (that is, into the local communities) as the integrating process of university work. Since the year 2000 significant moves have been made to broaden access to HE for the least favoured social sectors. These initiatives include HEIs opening a number of university extension ‘campuses’ throughout all municipalities to increase access and reduce the dropout rate among working and part-time students, accompanied by investment in distance education methods and modalities. A close relationship is maintained between HE and all of Cuban society, particularly with local communities, for whom undergraduate and postgraduate programmes are offered to meet the needs of a specific productive sector or of a given region. 4.1.2. Strategic focus on national development priorities Research in HEIs and university research centres is required to contribute directly to Cuban socio- economic development, characterised by MES1 as requirements to produce  Strategic results for high value-added and high-impact exportable production  Technological developments and results that apply technology for more competitive traditional production  Innovative technological results to develop and revitalise local and industrial economies. In MES strategic planning to 20152 the priority areas for institutional international cooperation match the broad national development priorities (see Error! Reference source not found. above) and are:  Higher education and ICT  Biotechnology and medical equipment  Agribusiness and the environment 1 La educacion superior en Cuba. Presentation by MES at the VLIR-UOS Seminar, Havana 17th October 2011 2 ibid
  30. 30. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report  Industry and energy  Basic and social sciences Also in line with national development priorities, MES places emphasis on the development of institutional capacity, doctoral programmes and research and innovation in institutions in the Eastern region of Cuba, although activities supported by international cooperation in Eastern institutions would also benefit other MES HEIs in the national network (see paragraph 4.1.4). 4.1.3. Governance and sustainability in MES HEIs University and other HEI rectors are responsible directly to the MES (and Vice Ministers). They are appointed by a Ministerial resolution. Within the decision-making structure of the MES, rectors are at the same level of the Directors of Divisions of the Ministry. There are no formal governance or decision-making structures at provincial level, but typically HEI rectors maintain active and close contacts with the General Secretaries of the Provincial Communist Party and the Presidents of the Provincial Governments. In many cases, these officials are members of the HEI Governmental Executive Boards. 4.1.4. Collaboration and networking in HE and research Academic and research collaboration, including joint curriculum development for masters course, information sharing and skills transfer, is one of the strengths of the Cuban HE system, and indeed is a mandatory requirement for MES institutions. MES HEIs are all part of a MES university network (“Reduniv”) and there are also thematic networks maintained by individual HEIs on behalf of the academic and research community, such as the “RedMa: Portal de Medio Ambiente” (an Environment portal) maintained by ISPJAE3. Collaborative activities, beyond information sharing through intranet and web-based networks, email and occasional meetings are seriously constrained by lack of funds to cover travel costs and poor national and local transport infrastructure. For example, in the past Cuba HEIs collaborated in an effective inter-library loan and publications exchange system, which no longer functions. Apparently recent changes in the regulations have been initiated that should make it possible for HEIs and staff to be remunerated (in cash or in kind) for their work supporting network activities and on behalf of institutions other than their own. 3 http://redma.cujae.edu.cu/articles.php?article_id=2
  31. 31. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report 4.2. Observations resulting from the interaction with local stakeholders 4.2.1. MES views on strategic directions for Flemish university cooperation In the preliminary meetings with the Team (see Error! Reference source not found.), Directors from MES set out and reinforced the Ministry’s favoured strategic directions: these included  Reiterating the national development role of HEIs in Cuba and the particular developmental priority of institutions in the Eastern region (see paragraph 4.1.2 - 0).  Emphasising the main thematic priorities of a) reducing food security risks and dependencies on importing food; and b) the environment, in particular introducing renewable energy sources, and biotechnology, with a particular local role for universities to address specific and locally relevant environmental issues, such as water.  Reinforcing the human resource development aspects of international cooperation and the need for a programme to make a significant impact on raising both capacity (numbers of doctorates in key fields - see Figure 4) and capability (teaching and technical) in key areas. Mobility for academic staff is the priority, especially for those young academics with Master qualifications but few opportunities to study for their PhD.  Stressing the need for any programme of activities to take advantage of, and spread benefits through the national HE and research network infrastructure (see paragraph 4.1.4). It was acknowledged, however, that network connectivity (both intranet and internet access) is not evenly or equally distributed among HEIs, and that institutions in the Eastern half of the country face greater connectivity challenges than those in, for instance, Havana.  Improving skills, competences and facilities for the application of ICT within key thematic areas, such education, environmental sciences and medicine, is also a MES priority. It was suggested that this could be supported through a national programme of doctoral and / or masters scholarships in applied computer studies. 4.2.2. The impact of budget deficiencies on infrastructure and facilities MES provides HEIs with budget allocations for staff salaries, running costs (electricity, water etc) and maintenance of buildings. These budgets have been declining in real terms for a number of years at the same time as the number of university sites has been expanding (for example, the development of outreach campuses and sites within municipalities). Most of those HEIs visited by the Country Team face significant challenges, such as:  The maintenance and repair of campuses and buildings (many built during the 1970s): wear and tear from the weather is evident everywhere and aging furniture and facilities in constant use cannot be easily replaced or upgraded.
  32. 32. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report  Reliance on outdated and/or inadequate equipment and materials, for instance, in technical workshops and science laboratories, in library books and other materials for students, in computing hardware for administration, study and research. Capital or special project investment funding is rarely available for those HEIs controlled by MES (and almost certainly other ministries such as MINSAP), unless it comes in the form of international cooperation or through other international donor initiatives. The inescapable conclusion is that Cuba has too many HEIs, more than the country needs considering its size, population and economic capacity. Available government funds for HE (under MES and other Ministries) and institutional allocations are now spread very thinly indeed across the range of institutions and campus locations. The creation of campuses in all the municipalities has exacerbated the situation, with inevitable and negative implications for quality in education and research. 4.2.3. Overall assessment of strengths of HEIs visited The HEIs visited (with the exception of UCLV) by the Country Team during the mission (see Annex 1 for full programme) were assessed by the International and National Experts against a number of criteria relevant to VLIR-UOS programming and strategic institutional development. In a subjective qualitative assessment (low/poor, fair, good or excellent) was assigned to each institution for each of the following criteria:  Contribution of university to national development  Contribution of university to local /regional development  Active engagement in collaboration within Cuban HE  Active engagement in international cooperation  Institutional management and policy-making  Existing collaboration with Flanders  Accreditation of postgraduate courses  Percentage of academic staff with Doctorates  ICT infrastructure and systems Table 1 shows the results of this assessment. It should be emphasised that this is a comparative and non scientific assessment intended as a tool to assist in future planning and not as a sole basis for decision-making. UCLV was not included in this assessment as its potential in research and other cooperation with Flemish institutions under the new Country Strategy is assured and not open to question.
  33. 33. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report Table 1: Overall assessment of strengths of HEIs visited by Country Team Contributionofuniversityto nationaldevelopment Contributionofuniversitytolocal /regionaldevelopment Activeengagementin collaborationwithinCubanHE Activeengagementininternational cooperation Institutionalmanagementand policy-making Existingcollaborationwith Flanders Accreditationofpostgraduate courses %ofacademicswithDoctorates ICTinfrastructureandsystems UH Excellent Excellent Excellent Good Good Good Excellent Good Fair ISPJAE Excellent Excellent Excellent Fair Good Fair Good Fair Fair UNAH Excellent Excellent Excellent Fair Good Fair Fair Fair Fair UO Good Excellent Good Fair Excellent Poor Fair Fair Fair UCF Fair Good Fair Fair Good Fair Fair Poor Fair UC Fair Good Fair Low Fair Low Fair Low Fair UMCC Low Fair Fair Low Fair Low Fair Low Poor UDG Low Fair Fair Low Poor Low Low Low Poor UCI Low Low Low Low Fair Low Low Excellent 4.2.4. Internal and external ICT network access The MES HEIs (and other research centres) are connected to a HE intranet, which facilitates communication and sharing of research information and resources between institutions, and offers access to the various thematic and research portals and networks, maintained by MES and other specialist institutions. While the intranet connectivity appears to be relatively robust in most of the HEIs visited, it is not clear whether the internal networking infrastructure is the same standard in all institutions and on all campuses of individual institutions including outreach campuses within municipalities. Those far from Havana are likely to face particular infrastructure challenges.4 Local management of the intranet, and of individual institutional resources available on it, appear to vary considerably between institutions (for example, some HEIs such as UO have developed 4 "Not all universities have the same conditions or the same services, or the same levels of technology, and although the MES has tried to equalize this it has not been possible. There are universities that have more external Internet capacity than others, and the truth is that it has not been possible to correct this situation, although we have been able to help some less developed centres "Quote from Francisco Lee Tenorio, Director of Informatization, MES, translated from Juventud Rebelde at http://www.juventudrebelde.cu/cuba/2011-10-08/extrana-desconexion-en- las-universidades/
  34. 34. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report comprehensive institutional portals on the intranet through which a range of resources and sites can be accessed; others are less well-developed). It was not possible in the time available for the Team to make a proper assessment of research information and resource sharing policies and practice. National limitations on the existing telecommunications network and infrastructure (progress on establishing the Venezuela/Cuba undersea cable link appears to have stalled for technical and funding reasons) have a severe impact on internet access for all HEIs. Bandwidth capacity for an individual institution rarely exceeds 3GB (UCLV) and very often capacity is considerably lower than this and unreliable. Systems management practices, which differ from institution to institution, have an impact on internet access for staff and students. UCLV, benefiting from the VLIR-UOS IUC work done on systems administration, probably represents the optimal standard for effective management among the MES HEIs. UCI is the exception in bandwidth capacity among HEIs, benefiting from significant government investment in connectivity and infrastructure on its central campus, which allow up to 10GB capacity. 4.2.5. Staff mobility There are many limitations on international mobility for academic staff in Cuban HEIs. Financial constraints and lack of access to hard currency mean that staff cannot attend conferences or engage in academic exchange visits. Except in the context of an international cooperation project or through foreign funding grants few HEIs have the ability to pay the costs of this kind of academic mobility. This is the reason for the MES emphasis on using international cooperation as principally a channel for opening up opportunities for staff mobility (see 0). The Country Team also noted the general lack of national mobility among academic staff: very few staff members, on gaining on gaining Masters or PhDs, move from their home university to take up vacant or new posts in other Cuban HEIs. Four factors inhibit this kind of transfer of skills and expertise around the national HEI network:  Cuban society is characterised by a strong sense of community and institutional loyalties and strong family ties to one’s place of birth, implicitly encouraged by government policies. Nonetheless, this has not prevented the drift of population from the provinces to the capital city, Havana;  Until very recently there has been little or no possibility for people to sell or buy houses, thus facilitating movement within Cuba, though this may be set to change 5;  Mobility within the academic hierarchy – from junior positions up through the ranks to more senior posts – is constrained across all HEIs under these circumstances; aging professors do not opt for retirement, so posts rarely become vacant;  Under existing governance structures and regulations it would be very hard for a Rector of a university to deliberately seek or identify a particular academic from another institution in a different province to take up a new or vacant post; something which is extremely common in most countries’ HE systems and which contributes to the renewal and refreshment of academic study and research within the system. 5 See for example http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/06/cubans-can-sell-homes-home-raul-fidel-castro
  35. 35. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report 4.2.6. Potential for HEIs to develop income-generating initiatives/partnerships HEIs in Cuba are financed entirely by the government and at present universities do not have any institutional mechanisms for fostering research or training associations with industries/enterprises for commercial or revenue-generating purposes, in the way that these kinds of links are encouraged in other countries. UCI, under the Ministry of Communications, is the exception in this case, as the university has been developing products and services for Cuban and Venezuelan clients (including for instance hospitals, government agencies etc). Though the UCI model of remuneration is not clear the university has in some way been receiving benefits from the services they have been offering. The model will undoubtedly be modified within the MES structure. 4.2.7. Transferring research into policy and practice The Country Team noted that HEIs all appear to have mechanisms to work with local stakeholders, in agriculture, energy and environmental conservation, for example, through provision of part-time distance and on site education and training in municipal campuses, and through full-time programmes of work-related social and community development. However, what appeared to be missing in most of the HEIs visited (with the possible exception of CEEMA at UCF, UH and UNAH) was capacity and programmes to address the transfer of research findings, outputs and best practice to higher level policy-makers and planners within Cuban national and provincial government, enterprises and industry. Given that the main challenges in assuring food security are modernisation, diversification and increase of production, and the new national economic policy is to empower the private sector and decentralise the national economy, the need to improve human resource capacity and transfer management know-how at the highest levels would appear to a priority area for HEIs. 4.2.8. International profile of Cuban HE Despite quite a wide range of international donors and stakeholders in Cuban HE (see 0), operating in the country for most of the last decade, the impact on human resource and research development in HEIs has not been great. The combined resources available for international cooperation projects in HE are not large (VLIR-UOS’s contribution through the IUC with UCLV and over a decade of OIs far outstrips that of any other single donor or country) and the scale of individual projects is normally quite small – between €20,000-€50,000. The impact has been weakened by the continued expansion of HE in numbers of institutions and campus locations. Although Cuban HE and research are widely regarded as being of remarkably high quality considering the infrastructure and research facilities available in the country, Cuban HEIs do not score highly in terms of international published research outputs in the form of research articles and papers (see Table 2). Constraints are recognised as being language barriers (considering that international research dissemination channels are dominated by English language publications) among Cuban academics, relative lack of opportunities to collaborate in international research projects and teams, and limitations on Cuban internet connectivity which constrain academic and research access to information and research resources.
  36. 36. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report Table 2: SCOPUS abstract and citation database 2004-2009: ranking (number published articles) of some Cuban HEIs among 1200 Latin American and Caribbean universities6 HEI Ranking HEI Ranking UH 55 UNAH 402 UCLV 137 UNHOLM 411 UO 183 UCI 422 UMCC 244 UCF 483 ISPJAE 248 UDG 514 UPR 369 UNISS 650 UNICA 387 UG 805 UC 401 ULT 810 4.2.9. Existing links and contacts with Flemish universities Flemish universities and individual academics have been engaged in collaboration and human resource development initiatives in Cuba since 1996. With the start of the UCLV IUC programme in 2003 the level of activity has significantly increased. 6 Extracted from La educacion superior en Cuba. Presentation by MES at the VLIR-UOS Seminar, Havana 17th October 2011
  37. 37. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report Table 3: Summary of existing Flemish cooperation in HE and research7 SUB- THEMES/AREAS Regions Partners CONTENT BASED THEMES Food security & agriculture Rural development and soil systems Western Cuba - Pinar del Rio, Havana and Matanzas Province, Eastern Cuba UNAH, UDG Food production and food chain Plant and animal sciences Vila Clara, Sancti Spiritus UCLV, UNICA, CIMAGT Environment Clean Technologies, Biofuels, Renewable and efficient energy Cienfuegos and Sancti Spiritus UCF, UNISS, ISPJAE Climate Change, Water and basic sanitation Pinar del Rio/Havana Province UNAH Environmental issues Cienfuegos and Vila Clara UCF, UCLV Economic and social development, cultural issues Cultural heritage - revitalization of botanical garden Vila Clara UCLV Health HIV/Aids Havana and Cuba IPK Pharmacology, drug testing , medicinal plants Havana and Vila Clara IFAL (UH), UCLV, CIDEM Medical statistics Havana UH SERVICE/SUPPORT BASED INSTITUTIONAL THEMES Institutional strengthening Research policy and culture (incl. statistics for research) Havana and Vila Clara UH, UCLV Educational policies (QA, accreditation, language and Vila Clara UCLV 7 From PDL’s presentation at National Seminar, 17th October, Havana
  38. 38. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report SUB- THEMES/AREAS Regions Partners communication) Information culture and management Library and information culture development Santa Clara (+ national for library automation) UCLV ICT ICT in education (E- learning & other) Vila Clara (+ national for free software) UCLV Computer sciences & ICT infrastructure Santa Clara UCLV 4.3. Strategic niches for VLIR-UOS 4.3.1. Regional focus The Country Team was given the strong steer from government (MINCEX and MES) that the priority for development through future international cooperation should be among HEIs in the Eastern provinces of the country – that is, Camagüey, Las Tunas, Holguin, Granma, Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo. Given also the highly collaborative nature of HE within Cuba, however, this regional focus on the East does not rule out the inclusion of strong specialist partners from among HEIs and research centres in other parts of Cuba in projects and cross-cutting programmes of cooperation with Flemish institutions. The needs of HEIs in the Eastern region for greater internationalisation and human resource development through international cooperation programmes are evident even without the strong governmental steer. HEIs in Havana City and the (former) province of Havana are disproportionately advantaged in comparison with more distant institutions, in terms of many of the factors that attract international interest and engagement; for instance, transport and telecommunications infrastructure, links with Ministries and other government agencies in the capital. 4.3.2. Themes As HEIs in Cuba are required to focus their activities on the national development priorities (see Error! Reference source not found.) the Country Team noted broad similarities in research and development priorities among the individual institutions visited, tempered by their specialist capacities and provincial location. Five themes for international cooperation in research and human resource capacity development were identified and validated during the visits to HEIs:  Food security and agricultural production  Environment  Public Health
  39. 39. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report  Socio-cultural and tourism development  ICT and applications There is considerable scope for multidisciplinary research approaches to these themes: Figure 5 shows potential synergies between the themes and sub-themes identified by the Country Team. Flemish priorities and interests Figure 6 (below) summarises the thematic priorities and research interests (and potential synergies between these) of those Flemish academics who expressed interest in working with Cuba and communicated with the Expert Team through interviews or correspondence. These interests were either based upon  existing or past OI projects with Cuba,  experience of working in the UCLV IUC programme,  contacts or collaboration with Cuban institutions outside of a VLIR-UOS context, or Figure 5: Identified research themes and sub-themes prioritised by Cuban HEIs ICT and education Bioinformatics Artificial intelligence and computer sciences ICT and applications Rural development and agricultural management Plant and animal biotechnology Veterinary sciences Food and livestock production Food security and agricultural production Coastal zone management Clean and efficient energy Clean technology and production Soil and water systems Impact of climate change Environment Cultural tourism development and management Sustainable management of cultural heritage Socio-cultural and tourism development Epidemiology / ICT and health Community health Preventive medicine Public health
  40. 40. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report  no specific contacts with Cuba but interest in developing these based on research collaboration experience in other countries. As can be seen there is a good match between the identified strategic priorities of Cuban HEIs (Figure 5) and the interests of Flemish academics as expressed thus far (Figure 6). 4.3.3. Transversal needs and opportunities The Country Team also confirmed among the Cuban HEIs significant interest and need for action in three cross-cutting or transversal themes, in which the priority would be institutional capacity development rather than research, in transversal actions open to any Cuban HEI in the national network. Three themes were first identified through the activities and results of the UCLV IUC programme and validated during the mission: 1. ICT and applications  ICT Systems and administration  Statistics and bio-statistics  Learning platforms development Figure 6: Summary of Flemish academic priority themes and research interests Urban architecture, city planning and conservation Cultural identity in the humanities and social sciences Preventive conservation of built environment, community-based conservation models Rural, urban and regional development; food security and agroeconomics Culture and development Drug discovery using anti- microbials Dairy cattle genetics Nematology: marine and plant- parasitic nematodes Clean production in industry Microbiology and ecophysiology, food security such as drought or salinity stress plants Biodiversity Speech and voice disorders; acoustic tools for assessment and treatment Medical biostatistics, epidemiology Virology, molecular biology, diagnostics Pharmaceutical care, drug therapies Microbiology: infectious diseases; new antibiotics Public health Software engineering, databases, ontology Cloud computing; electrical engineering; machine learning Bioinformatics, computer simulation, artificial intelligence Computer science
  41. 41. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report 2. Language and communications  English language learning and communication  Writing & presentation for academic purposes 3. Information management  Library & information services management  Access to research information and resources ICT and applications VLIR-UOS and the Flemish universities and university colleges have built up significant experience and capacity to deliver transversal training programmes in ICT systems and administration aimed at institutional management and administrative personnel, both in Cuba, drawing on the experience of UCLV (see 0 below), and in Flanders. Several Cuban HEIs have already benefited from training courses and advice delivered under the UCLV IUC programme. Statistics and biostatistics capacity is an essential part of basic and advanced research knowledge among postgraduate students, independent of their scientific field. Capacity development in this area would build on existing experience among Flemish universities (particularly UHasselt) to provide training and independent learning opportunities for academic staff and teachers by students (building on the CROSS_STAT project) in a transversal action, as well as supporting the establishment of masters level courses within specific HEIs (possibly as part of an IUC partnership or departmental OI). Most Cuban HEIs are developing administrative and academic services using institutional learning platforms (sometimes called virtual learning environments), mainly using open source applications such as Moodle. The extension and growth of distance education makes this a priority area for capacity development both in the development of customised learning platform applications and services and materials development. Transversal capacity development projects would ideally be aimed at systems developers as well as academic staff using the platforms for course delivery. Language and communications The UCLV IUC project 4A - Capacity building for communication in English for academic purposes in international collaboration – established the highly transferable model of CAELTIC. This could form the basis of both transversal actions such as training courses and independent learning opportunities open to all Cuban HEIs (in for example, writing and presentation for academic purposes), as well as institutional actions to develop English language and communication in-house capacity in modified versions of the UCLV CAELTIC (as part of an IUC programme or OI). Information management Cuban HEIs face many challenges in the maintenance and development of library services to their undergraduate and postgraduate communities. While VLIR-UOS support could not prioritise support to university library per se, Flemish universities have built up considerable expertise and experience in supporting improvement of library and information services through transversal initiatives (such as STIMIUC Training at VUB). In Cuba such actions should focus on training staff in library and information services management related to information and services for postgraduate and research students and staff, which might include (for example) ICT applications, information retrieval and database searching, information architecture and the development of digital libraries, information
  42. 42. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report resource sharing within the HEI network, and the development and management of institutional repositories. Access to research information and resources is also a great challenge for Cuban HEIs due to the low connectivity speeds experienced by most institutions, and the high subscription cost of key international journals and information databases, and exacerbated in the case of some publications by the restrictions of the US embargo. Transversal activities in this area could include supporting library and information staff to improve their own knowledge and understanding of the range of potential sources (both subscription-based and toll-free or open access) in key scientific and technical areas, and in improving their support to academic staff and research students to become more efficient and effective in information search and retrieval using internet and database sources. 4.3.4. Domains Table 4: Country Strategy Framework summarises the potential domains in which these themes and sub-themes could be pursued in a programme of VLIR-UOS supported cooperation. It also takes into account where the Flemish interests lie, as articulated in the North seminar on Cuba and subsequent interviews (see Annex 6 for the original country framework as proposed at the North seminar). There is potential for constructive and valuable cooperation at masters and PhD levels, though doctorate level should be considered the more important of these two, given the problems Cuban HEIs currently face in student mobility, the relative lack of professors with doctoral qualifications in many institutions. There is also considerable potential for VLIR-UOS support to academic staff capacity development and updating – in relation, for example, to basic research methods using ICT such as statistical analysis, in laboratory methods and techniques, and in pedagogical approaches, particularly relating to distance education. This potential area of need could be addressed through either transversal and institutional programme or project interventions, such as training courses, opportunities for staff exchanges and placements in Flemish universities, etc.
  43. 43. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report 33 Table 4: Country Strategy Framework DOMAINS THEMES EDUCATION RESEARCH EXTENSION MANAGEMENT MAIN THEMES SUB-THEMES /AREAS Regions / Provinc es Possible partners Maste rs PHD Short cours es Multi- disciplina ry research Resea rch outpu t Collabor ative training Commu nity service s HR D Internatio nal networki ng and linkages EFFECT CONTENT BASED THEMES Food security & agricultural production Food and livestock production National UNAH, UMCC, UCLV, UC, UDG * * * * * * THEMATIC CAPACITY Veterinary sciences National UNAH, UMCC, UCLV, UC, UDG * * * * * Plant and animal biotechnolog y National UNAH, UH, UMCC, UCLV,UNI CA, UC, UO * * *
  44. 44. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report 34 DOMAINS THEMES EDUCATION RESEARCH EXTENSION MANAGEMENT MAIN THEMES SUB-THEMES /AREAS Regions / Provinc es Possible partners Maste rs PHD Short cours es Multi- disciplina ry research Resea rch outpu t Collabor ative training Commu nity service s HR D Internatio nal networki ng and linkages EFFECT Rural development and agricultural management National UH, UNAH, UMCC, UCLV, UC, UDG, UO * * * * * Environmen t Impact of climate change Central and East UO, UCF * * * * THEMATIC CAPACITY Soil and water systems Havana, Central and East UNAH, UC, UDG, UO * * * * * Clean technology and production Havana, Central and East ISPJAE, UCF, UO * * * * * Clean and efficient Central and ISPJAE, UMCC, * * * * *
  45. 45. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report 35 DOMAINS THEMES EDUCATION RESEARCH EXTENSION MANAGEMENT MAIN THEMES SUB-THEMES /AREAS Regions / Provinc es Possible partners Maste rs PHD Short cours es Multi- disciplina ry research Resea rch outpu t Collabor ative training Commu nity service s HR D Internatio nal networki ng and linkages EFFECT energy East UCF, UNISS, UO Coastal zone management National UH, UO, UCF * * * * * Socio- cultural and tourism developmen t Sustainable management of cultural heritage Havana, Central and East UH, UO, UC, UCF, UMCC * * * * * THEMATIC CAPACITYCultural tourism development and management Havana, Central and East UH, UO, UC, UCF, UMCC * * * * Public health Preventive medicine Havana, Central and East IPK, UH, UO * * * * * THEMATIC CAPACITY
  46. 46. Cuba Country Strategy and IUC Partner Identification Mission Report 36 DOMAINS THEMES EDUCATION RESEARCH EXTENSION MANAGEMENT MAIN THEMES SUB-THEMES /AREAS Regions / Provinc es Possible partners Maste rs PHD Short cours es Multi- disciplina ry research Resea rch outpu t Collabor ative training Commu nity service s HR D Internatio nal networki ng and linkages EFFECT Community health Central and East IPK, UCLV * * * * * Epidemiology / ICT and health Havana, Central and East IPK, UCLV * * * * ICT and applications Artificial intelligence and computer sciences Havana, Central and East UH, ISPJAE, UCLV, UCI, UO * * * * THEMATIC CAPACITY Bio- informatics National UH, ISPJAE, UCLV, UO, UNAH, IPK, UNISS * * * *

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