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Universidad de la Costa: Meet the Rector

Universidad de la Costa: Meet the Rector main image

Located in Barranquilla, Colombia, the Universidad de la Costa is ranked in QS Latin American University Rankings 2020 and is one of the top 50 universities in Colombia.

To learn more about Universidad de la Costa and what it offers international students, we spoke to its rector, Tito Crissien, Ph.D. 

Could you please tell us a little bit about your background and how you became the rector of Universidad de la Costa?

I have a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Colegio de Estudios Superiores de Administración (CESA) and two master’s degrees: one in Business Administration from the University of Miami Business School and another in Education from the Universidad del Norte. Most recently, I completed my PhD program in organizations management from CENTRUM Business School. 

I have been rector since the university was founded. I started as a computer room supervisor when I was around 18 years old, before I went to study in Bogota. After that, I started as a credit line director for students. I was responsible for speaking to students in order to explain which options they had to finance their studies. Then I became the finance director and then moved on to planning, which was an amazing experience because I was responsible for all the development plans and the budget and got to know all the areas of the university. And after that, I became the rector.

Can you also tell us a bit more about your institution? The pillars, the mission, what you want to achieve?

Our main purpose is to help in the formation of an integral citizen. We have many alumni working in Congress and the Government because they believe we are building people that will be involved in making decisions that will affect all of us.

We want our students to have values and enough professional knowledge to be able to participate in the decision making of the country.

Based on that, we have a new development plan for 2020 to 2023 where we have four focuses: assurance of learning; sustainable happiness; collaboration; the new model of universities. We are planning to spend four years studying all the available models to be able to choose the best model in 2023.

How important are international students?

For us internationalization, in general, is a transversal subject. It touches all our four pillars. Our goal is to be an international university, and in order to achieve that we also need international students. We have students from Brazil and from Argentina, for example, that only come for one semester or for a short visit, but all the input that they bring us, the different points of view and different cultures are excellent for us.

We live in a global world, so we want to be in contact with other countries and culture as much as possible. We have a very transparent policy in all our four pillars: everything that we do, we must do it with an international view.

What policies or strategies are you going to take to entice more international students?

We’re going to offer more courses in English. While studying the new models of universities we have found out that the new generation likes to travel. So, with English being the universal language, we need to offer more courses in this language. 

We will also work with other universities – three or four – here in Barranquilla to build a student residence, to make Barranquilla a more attractive destination, especially because housing is one of the main restrictions students face going to another country.

We also aim to be more visible. We started a strong campaign for our university not only in Colombia, but on the international level. Barranquilla is a city that has become very popular – starting with Shakira. We are close to Cartagena, which is the most touristic city in Colombia. And on the other side, about an hour’s drive, we have Santa Marta, which has the best beaches in Colombia. We want to show people that Bogota might be the capital and the biggest city, but the fun is here in Barranquilla. 

How would you want the university to be seen abroad? 

We’re a flexible university, where people feel they can achieve whatever they aim to do. We want to give them all the opportunities to get what they really want from an international experience.

We also want to be seen as futuristic. My main goal right now is to be a university where you can learn about innovation and develop an innovative mindset. We may not have all the technology American universities do, but we have a mindset that craves innovation. And finally, we want to be a place where it's fun to be, with great culture.

What is your strategy to build this image? 

One of our main goals while working closely with QS is to improve our ranking position. I've been doing a lot of work to increase our scientific productivity, and I’m very confident that next year we will be one of the top 100 universities in Latin America. However, we still need to improve our reputation and be better known. That's why we're doing a lot of campaigns on social media. We're investing a lot on social media, like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, but we need to do more campaigns in English, as we've only done it in Spanish.

Why should students and academics choose the Universidad de la Costa? 

Colombia is in the middle of the world and is in the middle of Latin America, which gives us a lot of advantages. We are very close to the US, Argentina and Brazil, so we get a mixture of different cultures, meaning you can get to know Latin American culture as a whole and learn Spanish.

Why Barranquilla? Because it is the Colombian city that has grown the most economically, and it’s the most fun. We’re in the best part of Colombia, the Caribbean region, which means we have the best beaches nearby. 

Why Universidad de la Costa? Because we're going to listen to you and help you develop the competence and skills you’re interested in.

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Written by Niamh Ollerton
Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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