5 November, 2020
The “Universidad Argentina de la Empresa” (UADE) specializes in training young people through innovative study plans and a modern educational approach with programs in multiple disciplines. Its authorities have recently decided to go a step further in caring for the health and welfare of the entire community by certifying the IRAM Seal of Verified COVID-19 Protocol. We interviewed Architect Ricardo Méndez, University Principal, to learn more about the implementation process of the EDP IRAM 3820, as well as about the benefits of such certification.
-Working with a group of experts, we gathered knowledge from national and foreign official documents and prepared the EDP IRAM 3820 so that companies and organizations could create a COVID-19 Protocol. To what extent did this implementation help you take care of the health of students, teachers and collaborators?
-Basically, in two fundamental aspects. First, it allowed us to establish objectives, plan actions, organize tasks, define people in charge and, mainly, develop a system of control and verification of all those actions necessary to guarantee activities in the university within a safe environment for students, teachers and collaborators. Secondly, the external, objective and professional view gave us improvement opportunities to consolidate achievements and to modify and correct mistakes. These two aspects were fundamental in the development of our Protocol.
-The pandemic had a strong impact on the educational environment. Adapting to the context was a crucial step. What problems did you face when applying the protocol? What actions did you take to deal with them?
-We faced an important challenge in the operational and attitudinal aspects. In relation to the operational aspect, reconverting the University’s daily operations to a new scheme implied a great effort and work that ranged from redesigning work stations and specific issues such as the installation of acrylic protection screens, signage and the definition of capacity, to planning the circulation and flow of students, professors and collaborators. In terms of attitude, we carried out an important awareness, training and dissemination campaign (web, social networks, UADE internal channel). We emphasized awareness and commitment to the measures and recommendations expressed in the Protocol.
Our goal is to convince, persuade and basically achieve the commitment of all of us who are part of this team and are responsible for complying with the Protocol and enforcing it.
It is important to highlight that, previously, UADE, during the social isolation, had already to adjust promptly to the new context requirements and was complying with the academic calendar: its 37,544 students continued with their classes remotely and uninterruptedly, reaching the same level as with an on-site course. Thanks to the 1,600 teachers on its staff, the University was able to teach more than 5,900 remote courses.
-You recently went a step further and became the first university to achieve the IRAM Seal of Verified COVID-19 Protocol certification on the basis of that EDP. How was the protocol certification process at the Buenos Aires campus and the Recoleta site?
-We valued and enjoyed the process very much. It was very rich in concepts, content and learning. It essentially taught us that there are different ways of doing things; it provided us with a fundamental management and verification vision in the application of processes.
We learned how to carry out diagnoses and verifications that allow us to identify and evaluate risks both from a theoretical framework and from their concrete application. Based on that, we developed all the control, prevention and mitigation measures to implement effective and safe measures for the entire UADE community.
-Do you consider certification a strategic tool in building trust with your students?
-At the academic level, UADE seeks external accreditation of both national and international curricula. In this opportunity, we appealed to the same concept and sought IRAM certification of our Protocol. The possibility of having our protocols and procedures analyzed by professionals highly trained in quality management, especially in such a sensitive issue as COVID-19, gives us the peace of mind of knowing that we are working with high standards to generate a safe environment and convey confidence to the entire UADE community.
-Finally, why did UADE choose us to carry out this process?
-The University found the proposal and the certification process very appropriate. To us, IRAM represents professionalism, credibility, recognition and commitment.
We are very pleased for having worked together.
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