LHigher education in Europe has undergone major changes over the past twenty years due to needs for unification or harmonization. This has been accompanied by recent and rapid evolution of social, demographic, cultural, technological, economic, and financial environments, which is demanding profound transformation in university direction, organization, and management. The response to these demands has generated significant regulatory and organizational changes in university education that have affected the entire Spanish university system. Among such changes, we can cite the following: a new academic structure for education, again in the revision process; new curricula; greater demands on presenting and disseminating achievements; increasingly detailed accountability to society; the promotion of mobility; quality accreditation; a growing concern for labor market entry by graduates, including training as entrepreneurs and the push to start new businesses; new ways to recruit faculty; increased competitiveness for acquiring R&D funding; and ever more intensive use of new information and communication technologies. Furthermore, with ever greater insistence, the future knowledge society is awaiting for higher education to become a relevant player in regional socioeconomic development.

As a result, university direction and management has become more complex; maintaining certain organizational and legal structures from the past hinders the ability to respond to the new necessities and the searches for new solutions to current challenges. Thus, implementing new management techniques is imperative, including strategic direction and planning.

A strategic plan must be an instrument for university change, innovation, and modernization so it can respond more effectively to the demands posed by society. Without adequate planning, responding with guarantees is not possible.

Naturally, a strategic plan is and must be a public commitment to action. It is not just a desideratum of good intentions, but rather a commitment that involves the majority of the university community in order to effectively achieve set goals. Furthermore, it comprises the framework for organization and planning, wherein all the university community’s operational units, such as centers, departments, institutes, services, offices, and units, establish, in turn, their own strategic actions in accordance with the principles contained in the strategic plan.

At the Miguel Hernández University we understand that a strategic plan is a useful tool for designing future policies that will guide our collective actions throughout upcoming years, and that it will permit us to address organizational changes and internal consensus necessary for guaranteeing university competitiveness in the new framework. By drafting its strategic plan, the UMH has defined its objectives, based on the analysis of future requirements that must be satisfied; it has established coherent plans and policy, and it has oriented its human, economic, and technological resources toward these objectives. The management model designed for this purpose establishes internal and external commitments to action based on strict budgets to appropriately administer public funding, all of this in order to continue improving the quality and efficiency of our actions.

I am convinced that the work invested in the new 2016-2019 strategic plan will allow us to meet its objectives as well as handling future challenges. This strategic plan comes from serene and profound reflection on our brief history, and is the result of participation by those who chose to share their opinions, as well as from critical reflection on those opinions and suggestions.

The excitement of getting to know the UMH better has united us all, through critical review of what we have done right and wrong, to be used like the first stone to construct the building of our near future, with the conviction that that building must also be rethought, following the philosophy of efficiency and total quality that we have always adopted. In no way is this strategic plan an immovable structure; instead, it has been designed to exhibit plasticity similar to that of the human brain, with a constant ability to adapt to changes that arise.

Finally, allow me to ask all university community members to adopt the new 2016-2019 strategic plan as their own and to collaborate in its execution. I am grateful to all who actively participated in its preparation, for the time and effort given. But let us never forget that our success or failure depends upon our individual and collective will. And, fortunately, within our university community, we are increasingly more and more those who are participating in this future project that is the Miguel Hernández University of Elche.

Prof. Jesús T. Pastor Ciurana
Rector of Miguel Hernández University.