In 1993, Universidad Veracruzana (UV) created a social engagement program called University Social Service Brigades (BUSS in Spanish). BUSS was a novel approach to the traditional compulsory Social Service Mexican students must complete before graduation, where UV students carry out community work in the most impoverished and marginalized rural, urban and indigenous communities in the state of Veracruz. In 1996 the University Engagement Department (DGV) was formally established at UV.
The Engagement Department generates the conditions in which UV can contribute, in collaboration with various local parties, to the sustainable development of society in Veracruz. The objective is to enhance the generation and application of pertinent knowledge in response to specific needs and issues. The Engagement Department fosters and creates mechanisms for collaboration and coordination with communities, civil organizations, productive sector, government departments and local municipality authorities in order to contribute to socio-economic development and environmental conservation on a local, state, national and global level.
UV’s Engagement Programs have become an essential and integral university process to consolidate the professional training of students, provide feedback and improve educational plans and programs, foster employability of graduates and increase the social pertinence of the University.
The Department has 2 main programs (social engagement and productive sector engagement) and has 4 support areas (Administrative, Information Technology, Alliances and Network Development and Agreements). A multidisciplinary team of 80 people work in the department with relevant profiles to lead programs in coordination with academic faculties and research centers at UV. The Department’s annual budget is 22 million pesos from institutional sources and a further 4 million pesos in external funding,
For almost 20 years, UV Engagement Programs have successfully created alliances and spaces to facilitate links between academic activities and communities in need, which today represent fertile ground for carrying out research; life-long education; extension of university services; building skills for socio-economic development; transference of innovative technologies; interaction of cultures, mutual learning, and exchanging experiences. To date, almost 4,000 students in 40 disciplines have participated on the programs, working with NGOs, public sector development programs and in local industry in favor of sustainable development of the state of Veracruz.
UV has gained the confidence of local businesses, communities and government agencies, who highly value the University’s collaboration.
Engagement with the productive sector
The Department develops engagement projects and actions with the productive sector throughout the state, focusing on the UV’s efforts to relate academic activities with economic and technological development problems; it fosters the insertion of academic staff, graduates and students into productive sector activities with the objective of complementing their professional education, facilitating their insertion into the labor market and participating in the solution of problems faced by the productive sector in Veracruz.
Entrepreneurship Program and Consultancy for Businesses: Fosters an entrepreneurship vocation in youth and through the development of skills, business-minded attitudes and values where students are accompanied in developing their business idea into a tangible business plan, where start-up companies are developed and contribute to socio-economic development in Veracruz.
Work experience Program in Industry (http://www.uv.mx/vinculacion/bue/): Links higher education programs to current market demands and future economic-industry sector opportunities, facilitating the integral training of students and their opportune and effective insertion into their professional fields.
Centinelas Program (http://www.uv.mx/vinculacion/programa-centinelas/): Provides support to small businesses and entrepreneurs in Veracruz who seek to commercialize their products nationally and internationally, through workshops and training courses.
Jobs opportunity listings (www.uv.mx/bolsadetrabajo): A technological tool to support both UV graduates in their search of employment opportunities in their fields and employers in search of candidates for specific jobs. To date 2,775 connections have been made between UV graduates and employers.
Following up on graduates (www.uv.mx/egresados): This program establishes permanent communication between UV and alumni and provides feedback on academic models in relation to socio-economic realities. Information gathered is also used for evaluation purposes: in 2012 a survey was carried out on graduates to gather data on graduates’ opinions on their education received and their current employment and on public sector and industry representatives to gather feedback on professional profiles they require and their perception of UV graduates in their fields.
Engagement with the social sector (municipalities and communities):
UV fosters the identification of social and community development issues and the formulation of solutions that integrate the professional training of students, research and foster culture and education. The activities developed have the objective of both training professionals with an understanding of regional and state real scenarios, and fostering community development, small and medium sized businesses, health and social well-being, consultancy and training for public servants, educational projects and research projects related to social and environmental issues.
University Social Service Brigades (BUSS in Spanish) and UV Houses
UV has established, to date, 8 Houses for community engagement in different regions throughout the state. The Houses together with BUSS are a university model that supports academic activities and professional training of students while they comply with their compulsory social service and gain relevant work experience. The program provides students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge in real scenarios and contribute to solving community and gain awareness on regional socio-economic problems. The activities also benefit community participation for development and increase opportunities for insertion of students into the labor market and the work experience is an integral part of their degree program.
Public sector engagement (http://www.uv.mx/vinculacion/departamentos/sector-publico/): strengthens management competencies in local governments and promotes local development projects in small underdeveloped municipalities with the aim of supporting modernization and the design of local development policies, administrative and technical skills.