5th Universia International Rectors' Summit to put host city Valencia at centre of education map

Date of publication: March 23, 2023

  • Some 700 university rectors and administrators from 14 countries, political and business leaders, and domestic and foreign institutions will come together in Valencia on 8, 9 and 10 May.

  • Guests of honour include Spanish physicist and Prince of Asturias Award winner Ignacio Cirac and economist, university president and former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.


Some 700 rectors and university administrators and political and business leaders from across the globe will come together in Valencia on 8, 9 and 10 May for the 5th Universia International Rectors' Summit. This meeting, whose theme is “University and society”, will put Valencia firmly at the centre of the map of higher education.

The meeting, which is to be hosted by Banco Santander and Universia Executive Chair Ana Botín, was announced at a press conference this morning by Santander Univerisities Chair and meeting organizer, Matías Rodríguez Inciarte, alongside Universitat de València rector and chair of the meeting’s academic committee, Mavi Mestre. Mr Rodríguez Inciarte and Ms Mestre were joined by the Mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribó, and by the regional minister of Innovation, Universities, Science and Digital Society, Josefina Bueno, who is also a representative of Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències ("City of Arts and Sciences" in Valencian), where the gathering will take place.

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According to Matías Rodríguez Inciarte, “society needs to lean on academic institutions, governments and companies to overcome the global challenges it’s facing. Valencia will provide a space for debate and reflection on the role that universities, through teaching and research, should play to tackle today's challenges for a more prosperous society”.

He explained that “over three days, hundreds of academic leaders representing more than 14 million students across the globe will discuss how progress with universities means progress for society”. He also highlighted that the meeting speaks to Santander’s commitment “to helping people and businesses prosper and [to] creating a more inclusive, fair and sustainable society through universities”.

Mavi Mestre, referred to the preparatory work for this meeting, including a survey of rectors and four preparatory webinars related to the three axes around which the debates will revolve: lifelong learning, the promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation, and networks and interconnection between universities.

She said that, for three days, Valencia will be the world capital of higher education and that the aim is to "reach a sufficiently general commitment so that all the universities and everyone feels comfortable" with what will be the "Declaration of Valencia", a "commitment to continue advancing in the relationship between university and society, a society that we aspire to reach higher levels of wellbeing".

For his part Joan Ribó highlighted the Mediterranean character of Valencia, "a city open to knowledge, with its own identity and shared history, and with an international projection in which, he stressed, the public universities play a fundamental role". Ribó recalled that the two Valencian public universities are integrated into the main networks of international excellence in both teaching and research, "and are spearheading research, innovation and the generation of knowledge in the city".

València City Council has recently signed two agreements to link universities with the València 2030 Urban Strategy to achieve climate neutrality. "For us, the relationship between the city and the university is fundamental", said Joan Ribó, who pointed out the municipal government's vocation to "go hand in hand with the university to incorporate the best knowledge, the best science and cutting-edge research in all areas of urban policies".

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According to Josefina Bueno, “It's no coincidence that, after taking in Brazil, Mexico and Salamanca and Seville in Spain, the meeting is being held in Valencia this year, putting us firmly at the centre of the map of higher education and highlighting the strength of the universities in the Valencia region”.

Ms Bueno also pointed out that Valencia has become Spain’s fastest growing region in terms of innovation and that universities “can bring together researchers and businesses in a fundamental fellowship that drives the economic transformation our regional government is working so hard on. If one thing’s for sure, modern societies like the Valencian Community are built on social justice and unity that stem from knowledge, research and innovation”.

Two days of university debate

The 700-plus guests from 14 countries will talk about three core topics: the importance of lifelong learning; promoting entrepreneurship and innovation; and networks and relations between universities.

The meeting will be live-streamed on Banco Santander website. It will end with the publication of the “Valencia Declaration”, a manifesto setting out areas where universities can develop value propositions on education, research and innovation for social and economic sustainability.

The 5th Universia International Rectors Meeting will build on its previous iterations in Salamanca, Spain (2018), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2014), Guadalajara, Mexico (2010) and Seville, Spain (2005). Meeting organizer Banco Santander is firmly committed to progress and inclusive, sustainable growth. Through Santander Universities, it has been a pioneer and stalwart in education, entrepreneurship and employability for 26 years, standing out among the world's financial institutions. Santander has deployed more than €2.2 billion and supported more than a million students, professionals, entrepreneurial projects and SMEs through agreements with nearly 1,300 universities across 25 countries (www.santander.com/universidades).