UNAM Extension Campus to Expand Significantly in San Miguel
By Jesús Aguado
Although currently just an agreement of intention, a serious will exists to build an exclusive building for the National Autonomous University of México (UNAM) in San Miguel de Allende, say officials.
UNAM is México’s public university, and ranked as one of the best universities in the world. This would be a satellite campus. The first investment stage, involving 39 million pesos, will come from the federal, state, and city governments.
The agreement was signed in México City by UNAM’s Chancellor Enrique Graue, Governor Diego Sinhue Rodríguez Vallejo, and Mayor Luis Alberto Villarreal.
At the signing, officials said the facilities will be situated on 4.5 hectares (nine acres)-site on the road to Querétaro. The site will be on land adjacent to City Hall that the city council donated in 2015. Mayor Villarreal said that the land is valued at over 54 million pesos.
In México City, Director of UNAM Extension in León Laura Acosta Torres presented the project. She said that “the first stage will consist of a two-story building with classrooms, a media room, laboratories for sciences and computing, and multidisciplinary areas to provide health services to the citizens (the way the León campus does) in dentistry and physiotherapy.”
Degrees that San Miguel students could pursue locally would include ones geared toward industry. Some potential degrees she cited were ones aimed toward automotive and gastronomy careers. The campus will offer specialized educational services that promote technological development and research and development in a multidisciplinary complex, she said.
Officials also said that the campus will offer conventional and online high school education. Students will also be able to pursue master’s degrees and engage in academic research and cultural investigation.
Sinhue Rodríguez thanked UNAM for being willing to locate a campus in San Miguel.
“The best investment that a government can make is in education, and it is even better when we can team up with the best university and the best city in México.”
Officials will seek exchanges and agreements with international entities, they said.
“This is a longstanding cherished project by the university, the state, and Sanmiguelenses,” said Villarreal. “This project means development and commitment to future generations.” This development gives San Miguel an opportunity to become a university city, Villarreal said.
“Having UNAM in San Miguel is a privilege and a major responsibility,” he added.
In its first stage, UNAM-SMA will have the capacity to serve as many as 800 students. That number will go up to 4,000 when construction is completed.
Here since 2013
While the building of this campus would be a huge change in opportunities for Sanmiguelenses, in actuality, UNAM has had a tiny satellite campus in San Miguel since 2013. Located at Mesones 71, it’s affiliated with the National School of Higher Studies in León and is known locally for providing affordable English classes.
Several years ago, UNAM started academic activities in San Miguel de Allende. In 2012, the head of the university, José Narro Robles, agreed to open an extension program to conduct not only research but also to conduct activities to promote culture and continuing education. This project (it was said but never achieved) would open a high school.
In 2013, during the opening of the extension, National School of Higher Studies Director Javier de la Fuente said that the benefits for the municipality would be many because the city had a long tradition in cultural matters. The purpose of this extension program was to contribute to humanism, culture and art in San Miguel, he said.
“If we contribute and join with the university, we will have more benefits as citizens of San Miguel,” he said.
Plans for the high school never happened when the campus was founded. At the time, the director said that documents needed to be validated by UNAM. They said they would begin offering classes in August 2014, but this never happened.
Currently, courses at the campus are selected based on the opinions of citizens and organizations. Some classes currently on offer are in dentistry courses and CPR, in law, especially on oral trials, still a relatively new way of conducting trials in México. The campus also offers Spanish, English, French, and German courses and workshops and talks for the general public on the first Thursday of each month.
For more information about its courses, visit UNAM San Miguel’s facilities at Mesones 71, call 120-3461, or visit www.enes.unam.mxand click on the section for San Miguel.