Degree academic, scientific and professional interest
Chemistry is a science that since the 18th century has evolved its knowledges constantly until nowadays, on the same way that its teaching has advanced since its beginning in parallel to the scientific development. Therefore it could be said that without any doubts Chemistry constitute a “classic” discipline within the university academic activity all over the world.
The University of Vigo has taught, since its creation in 1990, the five-year degree in Chemistry, following at the beginning the study plan of 1973 (BOE number 280 of 22/11/1973; BOE number 193 of 13/08/1977) and, since 2001 (BOE number 204 of 25/08/2001), the current study plan. The Faculty of Chemistry has a wide teaching staff, mostly young people (with an average age of 45 years) with a high academic preparation (all of them are PhD and most of them have post PhD preparation in foreign countries).
The studies in Chemistry in the University of Vigo are widely consolidated nowadays. A good proof of this is that:
- The Faculty of Chemistry is the centre with more scientific production in the whole University of Vigo.
- Many research groups of the faculty have been evaluated as reference groups in the Autonomous Community. In addition to this, in all the areas in Chemistry there are several research groups which often receiving external finance, both from national and autonomic levels.
- The PhD programme in Chemistry: “Foundations and applications”, designed by the Inorganic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry and Organic Chemistry departments, obtained the Quality Award in the year 2006 (MCD2006-00178).
- Currently, the Faculty of Chemistry takes part in an interuniversity official postgraduate programme with the University of Santiago de Compostela to teach the “Master’s Degree in Advanced Chemistry” and the PhD studies integrated in this programme. This new interuniversity PhD programme also achieved the Quality Award.
- In addition to this, some of the faculty’s teaching staff take part in other PhD programmes which achieved the Quality Award: “Theoretical Chemistry and Computational Modelling Programme”, “Electrochemistry Programme: Science and Technology”, “Colloid and Interface Science and Technology Programme” and “Chemical Engineering”, and “Methodology and Applications in Life Sciences Programme”. The PhD Programme / Master’s Degree in “Analytical Chemistry Applied to the Environment, Food and Health” is also taught by teaching staff of the Analytical Chemistry Area.
- Part of the teaching staff in the areas of Analytical Chemistry and Chemical Engineering have been teaching in the 4 editions of the “Master of Science and Technology in Conservation of Fishery Products”, a proper title of the University of Vigo.
The evolution of students number has been decreasing in the last years. Thus, in few years the number of new students for first year changed from 150 (with a limited number of places) to smaller amounts. The lowest number was in 2006/2007, when there were only 19 new students for first year. On the year 2007/2008 there was a significant upturn, with 37 new students.
This diminution in the number of students wasn’t only in the Faculty of Chemistry, but general to most of the Bachelor’s Degrees in Chemistry from all over the country.
The chemical industry in Spain constitutes the fourth industrial sector in importance (a 10%, approximately) regarding volume of business (44,036 millions of Euro in 2005) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (11,598 millions of Euro in 2005), right after the food, beverage and cigarettes sector, the metal and metal products sector and the transportation sector (Snapshot of the Spanish Chemical Sector, FEIQUE, July 2007).
The distribution on the chemical industry is not homogeneous in Spain. Thus, almost half of the production is generated in Catalonia (46%). Together with Madrid, Valencia and Andalusia, they put together the 75% of the total Spanish chemical production. In Galicia there are only two companies related with the chemical industries which can be considered as big: the REPSOL YPF refinery in Coruña and the ALCOA aluminium and derivatives production plant in San Ciprián (Lugo). The rest of the chemical industry is distributed between small and medium companies.
The Final Report on the Chemical-Pharmaceutical Chain of the Caixanova Forum of Business Strategies (February 2007) supports the given data and recognises, among other, this weaknesses in the chain:
- The existence of an important internal heterogeneity
- The limited importance of the chemical and pharmaceutical Galician industry in the Spanish level
These statements are supported by the following given data:
- The estimated chain billing in Galicia (2003) is of 2,161.7 millions of Euro.
- The gross value added (GVA) estimated of the chain in Galicia (2003) is of 702.6 million of Euro.
- The 62.8% of the companies are focused on marketing and bill the 49.7% of total.
- The 37.2% of the companies are focused on production and bill the 50.3 % of total.
- The relative weight of the GVA of the chain compared with Galician total GVA is 2.09%.
In any case, it is important to mention that the chemical-pharmaceutical sector distribution in Galicia is not homogeneous. This is, the GVA of the chain in the metropolitan area of Vigo represents the 43.68% of the GVA in the chain in Galicia being way over the average of other sectors, which is 30,86%. Also, the chemical-pharmaceutical chain is the fourth chain regarding importance in the metropolitan area of Vigo, after the automotive, construction and ship repair sectors and after fishing and sea production transformation. Within the Autonomous Community of Galicia, the province of Pontevedra is the one that contributes most in the chemical-pharmaceutical chain in exports (220.1 millions of Euro of a total of 541.4 millions of Euro in 2005) and in imports (693.7 millions of Euro of a total of 919.2 millions of Euro in 2005).
In summary, the chemical-pharmaceutical sector in Galicia is mostly settled in the province of Pontevedra, specially in the metropolitan area of Vigo. It is constituted by small and medium companies in activities like plastics and synthetic resins, paints, varnishes and coatings, glues, adhesives and stickers, cleaning products, pesticides, fertilizers, perfumery and cosmetics, etc.
The report “Demand for graduates from Galician SMEs” published by the Agency for Quality Assurance in the Galician University System (ACSUG) and published in the year 2007 give a relatively wide and reliable of the labour market in Galicia.
Most of the workers graduated from university work in the service sector (41.7%) and in industry (39.3%) and belong to the branches of knowledge of technical studies (43.3%) social and legal studies (42.9%). Workers with a degree of the experimental sciences branch are only the 9.6% of total.
With everything, an analyse by degrees show that Chemistry is the fifth degree with more work (7.4%), after BAM (20.9%), economy (10.1%), technical engineers (8.5%) and industrial engineering (8.7%).
Putting together these two figures it can be said that the dominant degree in the experimental sciences branch in the SMEs is the Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry (77.6%) following by Physics and Mathematics (7.5% each). The study shows that there is a total of 1425 workers graduated in Chemistry, of which 76% are women.
In addition to this, the study makes an estimation on the hiring demand of graduated in the following 12 months. On it, it appears that the SMEs will hire in the following year a total of 1332 workers, of which 4.7% will be of the experimental sciences branch. In this hypothetical situation the Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry is the most demanded (60%).
Some studies suggest that there is a big decompensation between the offer of graduated university studies and the demand of the companies. Even thought in the experimental sciences field this could be true, the data regarding Chemistry show that the decompensation is smaller. In addition, in those researches the offer was analysed from data that didn’t take into account the lowering of the number of students in the previous years, already mentioned.
The duties more demanded by the Galician SMEs for university graduated are many, mainly focused on the field of production. The least demanded duties are legal and tax consultancy (86%), human resources (72%) and research (61%). This could be explained mainly because the companies’ size doesn’t enable an excessive specialisation on the positions, and because of the limited available means.
The aspects more valued by companies when hiring a graduated are:
- Academic preparation: the studied degree and the performance of internships in companies are well valued. The academic record and the subsequent preparation (Master’s Degrees and Postgraduate Programmes), as well as the reputation of the educative centre are not very valued.
- Additional preparation: knowledge in IT at a user level (software) and ICTs handling (internet, email, etc.) are very well valued. Knowledge in languages doesn’t seem to be determining to hire someone, which can be explained by the low level of internalisation of the companies.
- Other aspects: it is widely valued the previous labour experience, the mindset during the job interview and references from other people. Other aspects related with labour mobility (availability to travel, live outside their city of origin, etc.).
As a summary, non-academic aspects are considerably valued, specially knowledge on Its, labour experience, behaviour during the interview, internships during the degree and previous references from others.
The more valued competences, abilities and skills when hiring a graduated are:
- Customer orientation (75.7%)
- Learning capacity and adaptability to changes (96.6%)
- Positive attitude (97.3%)
- Capacity for taking responsibilities (92.5%)
- Problem resolution (96.6%)
- Teamwork (94.9%)
- Planning, coordination and organisation capacity (91.9%)
- Oral communication skills (77%)
- Conflict resolution (80%)
Leadership is the least valued capacity (44.4%)
The graduated in the Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry could access a job related with their studies out of the business environment (big companies and SMEs). Even thought there are not quantitative data, the public sector is able to recruit a good number of graduated in the following areas:
- Secondary education. The Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry is common in the secondary teachers specialised in Physics and Chemistry and have an important presence, together with physicians and engineers, in the speciality of Technology.
- Official laboratories. There is a relevant number of chemists in laboratories from different national, autonomic and local organisms (For example: customs, sea toxins control, clinical analyse in hospitals, water municipal laboratories, etc.).
- University education and research. The three universities in the GUS offer the Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry together with other related degrees (Pharmacy, Engineering, etc.), achieving a great number of graduated.
In addition to that, the Industry and Innovation Bureau is carrying out active policies in encouragement of research which will promote the hiring of specialised staff. These policies take a double way:
- On the one hand, large investments in rapprochement policies between industry and the university are being made by financing projects to companies, which should enable to overcome the current reluctances and to transfer knowledge in both directions, as well as creating a growing research, development and innovation culture, which would promote the creation of R &D&i departments in companies.
- In addition, education for researchers and technologists is being financed in four specific profiles programmes: María Barbeito (pre-PhD), *Ánxeles Alvariño (post-doctoral in a foreign country), Isidro Parga Pondal (reinstatement post-doctoral) and Lucas Labrada (technologists). This staff should join the existing or soon created public and private research centres.
From the educational point of view there are going to be big changes in the next few years, both in secondary school and in universities. The result is that the average student currently enrolling for first time in the university is completely different to the one who did it few years ago (the same thing happens when they first arrive to a job interview).
Without making value judgements or sociological analyses, some of the relevant features of students arriving for first time to the Faculty of Chemistry and that make them different from previous generations are:
- They lack some basic knowledges in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. Indeed, many of them did not study some of these subjects in second year of Baccalaureate.
- Their working skills are weak and they only make an effort with a high motivation.
- They are completely adapted to new technologies. They have a high education in many aspects not directly related with Chemistry.
Since the year 2005/2006, in the Faculty of Chemistry, a pilot plan for adapting to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) has been being developed. The implementation has been done progressively, starting in first year and continuing. In the year 2008/2009 the fourth year of the five-year Degree began. Even though the Study Plan of this educational system was not designed for this, methodological and organizational changes were tested and, on one hand, led to a deep reflection on the teaching activity of a wide part of the faculty’s teaching staff and, on the other hand, provide with better academic results on the students. This way, the objectives formulation in terms of competences, the reduction of face-to-face learning load in some teaching activities, the introduction of continuous evaluation in different subjects, the creation of coordination teams vertically and horizontally and the continuous mentoring by students were key in this improvement.
This teaching innovation effort in the faculty is vital to meet the educational requirements of new students with new answers and more efficient solutions.
Regulatory standards for the professional exercise
The regulation on the professional competences of the chemists can be found in the following official documents:
Decree of September 2 which regulates the professional situation of those graduated in the five-year degree in Chemical Sciences (BOE/BOE 25 September 1955)
Article 1. Those graduated in the five-year degree in Sciences, Chemical Section, are empowered to carry out professional activities of scientific and technical character on their speciality. This professional activities include the action in executive management tasks or of counselling in entities which require assistance and collaboration of scientific character in the speciality of Chemistry, being its aims commercial or of other nature; and the free exercise of the chemist profession defined by the performance of research, studies, facilities, analysis, tests, valuations and similar activities and issuing of expert opinions, certifications or analogue documents in topics of chemical character.
Article 3. PhD Programme in Industrial Chemistry will have the rights point out in the previous articles and they can also sign execution projects on facilities and industrial activities execution in of chemical character, which would be equally considered by the Public Corporations.
Article 4. The five-year Degree in Sciences, Chemical Section, enables graduated to take places in national, provincial or municipal Administrations as technical staff, whose missions are equivalent in category and responsibility to the ones pointed out in the first article.
Decree 2,281/1963 (BOE/BOE 10/08/1963), which equates the professional faculties of the Five-year Degree graduated in Chemical Sciences with the ones of the PhD Programme in Industrial Chemistry, recognising for the first ones also the faculty of signing products.
Article 2. The Five-year Degree graduated in Sciences, Chemistry Section, will have the same professional faculties than the PhDs in Industrial Chemistry in the Article 3 of the Decree of September 2, 1955.
Similarly, specific qualification areas were defined:
Article 8 of the Decree of July 7 on the Ordinance of the Faculty of Sciences, BOE of August 4, 1944):
The title of the five-year Degree Science (Chemistry Section) qualifies for the following positions:
- Municipal and provincial chemists
- Institutes of hygiene chemists
- Dating studies
- Chemists in every State, Provincial or Municipal organisms, monopolies and companies depending, even indirectly, of the state, which require this specific function.
- Chemists in private companies.
In accordance with other similar professional graduated, it will enable to provide analytical experts opinions with an official effect, which will be valued to established laboratories of chemical analysis
Decree 1163/2002 of November 2 (BOE/BOE 15/11/2002), which create and regulate the sanitary specialities for chemists, biologists and biochemists.
It establishes that the Five-year Degree graduated in Chemistry can access the following health specialities:
- Clinical Analyses.
- Clinical Biochemistry.
- Microbiology and Parasitology.
Chemists develop their professional activity in various fields, being some of the more significant the following:
- Research, development, design, engineering and control in industrial chemical processes.
- Research, development, production, transformation and control on substances and compounds in human and veterinary drugs.
- Research, development, production, transformation, control and conservation of every type of food.
- Research, development, production, transformation, control, conservation, storage and distribution on basic chemical products.
- Research, development, production, transformation, control, distribution of cosmetic and perfumery products, soaps, detergents and other cleaning and polishing products.
- Research, development, production, transformation and control of a rational and sustainable industrial exploitation of natural resources (petrochemistry, steel, timber and paper industries, cement plants, ceramics and glass industries, etc.)
- Research, development, production, transformation and control of auxiliary products for industry (solvents, additives, catalysts, lubricant, etc.)
- Research, development and control of agrochemical products (fertilisers, pesticides, etc.)
- Research, development and control of materials for the electronic industry.
- Research, development, production and control of products related with radiochemistry, stable and unstable isotopes.
- Research, development and control in restoration processes.
- R&D&i in businesses and public and private institutions.
- Teaching Chemistry in the terms and educational levels established by the current legislation.
- Chemical, physical, biochemical and immunochemical test and analysis in biological samples, including human samples.
- Dating studies
- Research and development in Biological, Genomic and Proteomic Chemistry.
- Higher Technician in the Analyse or Quality Control Departments, design of working and control protocols, etc.
- Product quality manager.
- Responsible for laboratories and process facilities accreditation and validation processes. Quality inspector and auditor (both in process as in environment).
- Projection, installation, direction, management and analysis and quality control laboratory control and management, being this chemical, industrial, etc.
- Pilot plans projection, installation, direction, management and control.
- Environmental impact studies and evaluation.
- Installations related with Environmental Management Systems (SIGMA) in companies (gas control, water treatment, waste management, etc.)
- Nuclear, industrial, urban and agricultural waste processing, storage and/or removal.
- Water purification and processing.
- Transportation of dangerous goods technical manager.
- Labour Risk Prevention-Higher Technician in Industrial Hygiene.
- Administration in positions of their professional competence and their academic level
- Scientific and technical counselling on chemical topics.
- Commercialisation and technical assistance to the costumer, buyer or user of de product, equipment, etc.
In general, in all the activities related with chemical science and technology in communitarian, state, autonomic or provincial levels.
Referents external to the University
The main external reference was the White Book of the Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry, elaborated by the Spanish Conference of Deans in Chemistry (CEDQ) within the European convergence programme of the ANECA.
In addition to it, the following documentation on other associations and institutions:
- Project Tuning Educational Structures in Europe. Apart from the developed general documents the following specific related to Chemistry studies documents were taken into account:
- Reports related to the Eurobachelor in Chemistry, developed by the European Chemistry Thematic Network association (ECTN)
- Documentation related with the specifications of the Degree in Chemistry in the United Kingdom, published by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education
The influence of this documents in the final result was variable. Some significant examples of this influence are the ones taken in the Spanish Conference of Deans in Chemistry regarding the minimum charge of different subjects in the development of the degree and the inclusion of a subject called Project. The requirements of the Eurobachelor label were taken into account when designing the weight of the Bachelor’s Degree Final Project.
Consult procedures used for the study plan design
The Committee for the Study Plan Design was appointed by the Faculty Board on March 14, 2008, and is constituted by a representative from each of the following areas: Analytical Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Mathematics and Physics, a student form the five-year degree, a student from third cycle, a representative from the ASS and the dean team.
In parallel to the preparation works for the study plan, Deans from other centres (from Biology and Sea Sciences in the Campus of Vigo and of the Faculty of Sciences of Ourense) and Vice Chancellor for Degrees and European Convergence were consulted, in order to standardise criteria to prepare the report and to implement a shared basic credits structure in all the degrees from the branch of Sciences in the University of Vigo.
In parallel, through the assistance of the Faculty Dean to the meetings of the Conference of Deans in Chemistry, contacts were made to establish shared criteria which, sometimes, made necessary to perform changes on the work carried out by the Committee.
The way of working taken by the Committee for the Study Plan Design was based on an open debate, without restrictions, on each of the different aspects in the document, both in content and in implications of its applications, being the drafting previously made by a member or group of members of the committee. Minutes were taken for each of the agreements achieved in the meetings, and sent by email to all the teaching staff, the ASS and to all the students representatives.
Furthermore, the development of the work of the Committee was communicated in all the ordinary Faculty Boards celebrated during the design of the Study Plan.
The Committee for the Study Plan Design, through 32 meetings, drafted all the sections of the report, but for number 9, related with the Internal Quality Guarantee System, which was discussed and drafted by the Quality Committee of the Faculty. Finally, the Committee for the Study Plan Design passed unanimously the draft of the Degree Report on September 25, 2008. This draft was passed in Faculty Board meeting on September 30, 2008. Following the procedure established by the Vice Chancellor for Degrees and European Convergence, it was published in the Vice Chancellor Office web page (narrowly for the university community), communicating so to all the interested parts, and a period for allegations was opened until October 20. The allegations, after being studied and informed by the Committee for the Study Plan Design, were considered by the Faculty Board, which passed the Final Degree Report on October 28, 2008.
The Report was considered viable by the Committee of Academic Planning and Teaching Staff of the University of Vigo on the XXX. It was also informed positive by the Social Council of the University of Vigo on the XXX. Finally, the Report was passed on Governing Board meeting on the XXX.
During the preparation of the Study Plan Report, the documentation developed by the Agency for Quality Assurance in the Galician University System (ACSUG) on researches on employability of university graduated in Galicia was consulted.
Also documentation published by various agencies and institutions on the chemical industry in Galicia condition were consulted.
In addition, the committee designed a survey which was sent to different companies in order to know their point of view on the competences that a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry student should develop for a successful professional future. The results obtained in these surveys weren’t much different of the ones obtained in published wider researches.