(Approximate reading time: 30 minutes)

You finished your Bachelor degree successfully? Congratulations! So what to do next in life?

  • Working 40 hours a week badly paid for a soulless enterprise that squeezes you physically out with a ‘Junior Assistant’-position? Maybe, that’s what the majority of your fellow students will do!
  • Going on a long travel? Maybe, but you probably don’t have enough funds. Studying is expensive!
  • Adding a master study? There we go, good idea!

You feel not satisfied with the job opportunities and want to gamble for a higher salary with a higher degree. Or you don’t feel at your educational and intellectual limit of performance. Or you simply love the student life so goddamn much, that you simply want to postpone the strict working environment and rather continue a lazy student life? Or you “don’t really know what you want to do in life” and continue studying? 

If you studied a commercial or economic study you’ll probably want to continue studying in that area. Maybe you have informed yourself about studying in Spain or have already studied in Spain. It is a wonderful country with great weather conditions, tasty food and beautiful women. Compared to many other countries, you pay less and can finish your degree in faster time. But not everything in Spain is excellent and fantastic. Here are the experiences of one student from the ‘Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia’ who studied in 2016/2017 the course ‘Innovation and Tourism Marketing’.

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Reason number 1: You’ll have the worst study coordinator of…

…the university or the universe? Definitely both. Since I am thinking back in educational careers, you always have someone who supervises you: A teacher, a professor, a team leader, whatever you want to call it. But what happened to our poor course of 2016/2017 was nothing more than maybe the biggest scandal of a so called-coordinator I have ever faced myself.

Never have I ever suffered before from such a high level of incompetence, carelessness, bigotry and narrowmindedness of a person that is directly responsible for you. Students were in front of the whole course members – and this is now neither a joke nor a lie – laughed at, defamed, vilified and gossiped from the own study coordinator. What a shame and impertinent behavior against the students.

“To coordinate a study and therefor deserve the title of a ‘study coordinator’ you need to organize a frictionless process and study of your students. Equipped with excellent social skills you’ll responsible for the development of young people and should always function as the person of trust and the first contact person if a student has problems or something to tell. The communication skills of a study coordinator are outstanding as well, because you need to function as a connection network amongst internal information sources and the receiver of the information; your students. You should make sure, that all study related processes are organized professionally and reach the student on time to enable a high study quality. Apart from that you are responsible for connecting new trustworthy companies to the university to make sure, that students will have the opportunity to a guided and certified internship partner. We are looking therefor for a diligent and experienced new member of our staff with good connections who shows his/her full dedication to our young students and the tasks described above.”

This is how I would imagine to read a job description for a study coordinator. If I would remember and evaluate the quality, dedication and professionalism of our student coordinator to our study course, I would estimate it only at low single figures, maybe 3 – 4% of the 100% I described above. Our study coordinator started together with us and was as new as we were to the university. But in her mid-forties I was expecting someone who knows what to do and how to treat other people with respect. What we students had to accept for more than one year was nothing more than a lazy, jackleg and discarded employee, who didn’t give a shit about any of the students. A woman who screwed up everything due to her halfheartedness. It’s a miracle, that she got this job, weren’t there any other applicants?

Reason number 2: UCAM doesn’t have an official student council

Believe my words, if I say, that I was looking for a student council or someone who functions as a student representative to pick up a complaint. Of course I wasn’t happy already during the study and felt very mistreated. Hence I wanted to complain officially about the awful quality and treatment of the ‘study coordinator’, but nobody of the people working in the administrational offices from UCAM knew about the option of a student council. After asking ten different employees from the staff, I gave up. This is also a way to muzzle someone. Simply don’t give him the opportunity to complain.

Reason number 3: Nobody of the administration has a clue or feels responsible for you

It’s a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand’s doing and a bizarre acting of numerous clueless people at once. I have two great examples than can make people laugh tears and facepalm at the same time.

One: When I visited for the first time the administration offices one month before the study started in October 2016, I already paid the study fees and was the first student of the course who did so. Very exemplary! What was also very nice of me, because there were some tricky students who tried to stretch their financial solvency to the limits 🙂
However, at the end of July – So almost 10 month after I paid the study fees, the following eMail reached me from the study coordinator:

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Miraculously she never used to write me to the educational @alu.ucam.edu address, but always to the private one. I don’t know, how often I requested her to not write official emails to my private address, but it simply didn’t enter her head. Next to the impudent and impolite way of the study coordinator to threat me, she was referring on false information from the administration. How imbecile can an administrative system and its users be to first find out after 10 months, that someone allegedly didn’t pay his study fees, then forwarding these wrong information to the study coordinator who forwards it again to the student and threat him on a cheap way that he won’t pass his course, if he won’t pay the study fees. Instead of checking their own financial and administrative records and seeing on first glance, that the student has paid, they’d rather try the aggressive tactic to threaten a student.

Two: Actually a lookahead to reason number 7, but there you go:
 
whatsapp image 2018-01-22 at 18.07.34_edited_editedOf course, you guys were very surprised, when you found out, that suddenly the students have to pay for their certifications. Out of the blue starting from this semester a student has to pay everything himself, before UCAM carried all the costs. Kind of hard to believe. But also here it seems like it’s a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand’s doing. Absolute chaos. Not even brave enough to state that it was always the case. Rather back up the lie of the course coordinator and hope that no one finds out and asks question. Scout’s honor!

Reason number 4: It’s not worth the money

The saddest thing I saw, is that UCAM seriously raised the study fees for the course. Having paid already 3.750 EUR for the course 2016/2017, it’s disappointing to see, that the directors of UCAM decided to higher the prices for 2017/2018 to 5.900 EUR. That’s a raise of 57,33%!!

I would really like to have an answer now from someone of the officials, why to raise a study course of 57,33%. This is more than a sign of greed. No one of the students can ever expect to receive a 57,33% better study quality. Or what did the planners for the course do? Hired the best tourism professors of the world? Equipped students with better knowledge? Everything very hard to believe. Probably to finance the next roadster for the bosses.

In the 2017/2018 edition, there are only 17 students inscribed, so 10 less than the year before. Is that maybe a reason to compensate with the new students, because the class didn’t get filled up completely? A sign of bad marketing and management? You’ll be the judge.

Reason number 5: You present them flowers and they lie to you

My absolute favorite reason of all! On the last day of our lessons, one of our class members – bien sûr la fille française avec ses idées romantiques – had the idea to give flowers to our study coordinator. Knowing as a collective, that this was more a merciful and nice gesture than a deserved and honorable appreciation, every member of course contributed voluntarily for a nice and colorful bouquet:

Our course coordinator was thunderstruck and emotionally touched, but told us as well, that it was the first time in her career as a professor, that a class presented her flowers. Seeing the enlightenment on this picture already in her face, I can imagine, why other classes from other universities didn’t give flowers to her. If they were as well treated like fools, it’s not wondering to give nothing at all.

Anyway, the day of the bouquet was the 31st of May 2017, the last official day of our lessons. There were still many many open and important questions for our future, that haven’t been answered yet due to the usual chaos. So she requested subject-specific help from Ginesa Martínez del Vas, the director of the tourism faculty of UCAM was deeply needed. Great, it was good to have at least someone at our coordinators side who knew a bit about the business.

Attended by knowledge and routine, the course coordinator assured and asserted us, that the certification for our study handed out by the university would be FOR FREE. Not talking here about the official degree document from the Ministry of Education and the King of Spain, but ‘only’ the certification from the university that shows the successful termination of the study. But it was supposed to be gratis, cost-free, complimentary and we can use this for future applications for jobs, visa and PhD positions. 

Guess what? After all we had Four months later, when we passed the study, UCAM administration requested 50 EUR for the gratis, cost-free, and complimentary certification from the university. This is maybe her worst and harshest offense and misdemeanor, that she did to our class. And definitely unacceptable and can’t be forgotten nor forgiven. What a cheap way from the university to earn money!

Reason number 6: Official certificates? Maybe they will be send somewhere to China…

That’s now another really funny story, but sadly 100% reality AND truth. One Vietnamese student of a different course finished successfully her Master´s study in Hospitality Management. She worked in her graduation internship for a big hotel chain in Dubai and continued working there after the study. Also she applied to receive an official certificate from the university. Of course you want to proof everyone, that you successfully graduated. And what did the high-quality administration of UCAM? Sent her certificate to China. Almost. The Vietnamese student saw the mistake and could prevent the mistake from the administration in the last second. Luckily she received her certificate to her desired address. Maybe the following picture helps to understand it better:

ucam china (1)

Now you ask yourself, why someone would send on purpose a highly important letter to a false address in a false country? Or how it is possible to get confused amongst China, Dubai and Vietnam? Well, as a logic and rational thinking person I can’t give you an answer here, maybe they got confused because of the flags…
Also in my case they screwed more than up and needed almost half a year to send me my documents. First they were communicating their wrong, respectively the outdated payment details of 2013/2014 with the wrong banking details…

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But this was of course not the only mistake inside of the same email. Also with my recipients address they did something completely wrong. I lived before my study in Amsterdam and they seriously wanted to send me the documentation to the outdated address. How many students go back to the exact same address where they applied from?

Although I changed my personal data twice personally inside of the offices, the changes were not taken over. When I wrote a mail to ask for correction of my personal data, I received the following answer in broken English:

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Reads itself like an email from someone who took his third English class. Borat would be very proud on him/her. but it shows sadly the English level of the staff. They didn’t even understand and comprehend, what I wanted from them or that I was notifying about their own wrong/outdated payment details and the recipients wrong address. I only should not worry and could pay perfectly. Great!

When I answered again, that it would be very nice to be 100% sure to have the right address inside of my documents BEFORE I was paying, I didn’t get any answer again and was ignored. But I found somehow online an option to change my own user data at the virtual campus. When I changed the address, I received the following automized mail:

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The most important part of the mail is in the bottom. So I have to wait 15 days (!) until I will be informed via SMS about either the approval or denial of my changes I made. What kind of moron was responsible for designing this process? How outmoded can a university be? Does it need a simple student to tell them how ridiculous that is? In every of our normal online accounts it is possible to make these changes in real time. And UCAM needs 15 days to change the address information of a student?! And informs you via SMS?!

It’s almost impossible to believe, I know, but that’s not all. I made these changes on December 8th and was expecting then on December 23th an answer via SMS. Nothing happened until then. Knowing that then the Christmas break started and no one would work for more than two weeks, I wrote after more than 20 days without a notification during that time another eMail to the administration and requested information about this address change and if it would be finally possible to send the documents to the RIGHT address. Again I’ve been ignored from these work and logic refuseniks. So I was waiting in vain for my own official documentation for 5.5 months, because I am dependent on people who don’t even comply to their own redundant and outdated processes. And guess what? After five and a half months they send me the wrong documents without the correct amount of credit points:

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A good read through? Dude, I saw it on first glance, that you were not doing your job right. It’s not very difficult to count until 60 (ECTS), at least not for a normal person like me.

From the perspective of someone who tries to do always everything right and as it should and who thinks logic, rational and efficient I can’t tell you how it is possible for an institution of UCAM to make almost everything wrong what is possible to be made wrong. I guess, that my little cousin with his seven years wouldn’t do a worse job than the people from UCAM.

Reason number 7: The incompetent administration affects your career opportunities

The students were done with all their duties already in mid of September and waited desperately for months to have the option to apply for their well deserved certifications. Hard to say, why exactly a semi-professional university needs so much time to process with the issuing of the certification. Easy to understand and rectify: It’s just a question of professionalism or competence. In UCAM’s case a question about unprofessionalism and incompetence. Rebuking again the course coordinator, who needed the half of the summer and the half of the autumn to do her job. So the students waited for more than one whole season to hold their official certificates in their hands.

Because of this imprudent delay of the course coordinator, several students were affected in their after-study time and career opportunities. Deadlines to apply for jobs, working visa and doctorate studies were missed, because one single woman wasn’t able to do her job correctly and on time. And she didn’t even apologize for that.

Reason number 8: Students in Uganda have a better technological infrastructure than UCAM

Well, I think that this sub-headline says it already. And probably every student of UCAM can confirm it. The technical supply regarding the online reliability was nothing more than a disaster. Even 5th world countries would plan smarter and with a better availability. Being enrolled at a study that has the word ‘innovation’ in it, it was more than embarassing to see, how exnovative a university can be.

The most beautiful example for that was the day, when all Master’s students had to upload their thesis. One day earlier, the administration thought, that it would be a good idea to maintain the whole online system and to reprogram everything. The deadline was because of this luckily prolonged for one day, otherwise it wouldn’t have been possible to meet their deadline. but when the new system became effective, nothing worked, systems crashed and were overloaded, because of 150 Master’s students trying to upload all at the same time their thesis to a complete new and unstable system. During the summer break of one month there was enough time to do any kind of technologic experiments. But UCAM wants to do it at the same day, when all students had to meet their deadline. Smart!

Reason number 9: Siesta, holidays, feast days, etc. Does someone actually work there?

A more than justified question! Every day, UCAM is doing for four hours the siesta, a traditional Spanish lunch break. About the Pros and Cons exist since long years controversial discussions, but at the end they are still continuing with it. Such as UCAM, the second best semi-professional university of the world. From 1pm – 5pm all offices are closed. In summer times with more than 40 degrees I can easily understand that. But this means at the end, that everyone is working until 9pm in the evening, what sucks.

Besides that, there is a looooong summer break of one month, were no student receives the help of a professor during the most important phase of the study: The internship and Master’s thesis. Next to that, there are many other weeks during autumn, winter and easter when no one lifts a finger. Besides that, there are several other occasions, feast days, bank holidays, when no one is working at the university.

IF – and only IF – there are the rare occasions, that all omens stand good and there is no reason to stay away from work, you would expect many employees at the same time to catch up with all the time lost during the hiatus. But far from it! Most of the time, the right contact person, the right professor or the right advisor is haphazardly unavailable for you. This didn’t happen one or two times, but dozens of times. Although the staff service is riddled with a lot of superfluous employees, you don’t see much of them if you need them. Another sign for efficient energy conservation?

Reason number 10: You’ll be discriminated for not being Spanish

Here again a brutally clear proof of how incurious the welfare of the students were. All students had to do an internship, some (like me) were interested in leaving the continent for a complete new experience. In my case and the one from several others, South America was the preferred destination. Unfortunately, many South American countries aggravate and tightened the visa regulations for EU-citizens. Because of this, we students were – depending on the destination – only allowed for 90 days with a tourist visa. Regardless of whether we were doing a job, we were still officially inscribed as students. Hence there was the idea to obtain a student visa. For obtaining a student visa, the support of the home university – in this case UCAM – was needed.

So guess who didn’t support the students? Yes! Our course coordinator and the administration. Also here the reasoning was golden: Because of not having the Spanish nationality. The whole course was built people from international countries, no one was Spanish. But because of not being Spanish, we don’t receive help from our own university for a student visa? The reader itself probably won’t believe his eyes when he reads, that UCAM has had the audacity to reject help and discriminate its own students because of not having the same nationality as the university.

Besides that, a Spanish student had to pay 22€ for his/her documentation – An international student who wants to have a proper documentation in English, needed to pay with 50€ more than the double amount for his paperwork. 

Reason number 11: You’ll be discriminated for studying a Master

Now you doubt the author’s clear mind. A reason to not study a Master’s at UCAM is because you will be discriminated for studying a Master. Is that the greatest tautology ever or simply the truth? It’s simply the truth!

Several Master students were interested to receive a scholarship during their studies and internships, especially the ones who were leaving Spain, Europe or even the whole continent. In my case – I was leaving Europe to South America – my application for a scholarship was rejected because I was studying a Master. I applied for a specific scholarship for students who do an internship or exchange semester in South America. Officially all students could apply for it and benefit. My application was denied because I am student of a Master degree and not of a Bachelor degree. When I was asking, why my application for a scholarship got refused, I only got the answer: “Because you are not a Bachelor student”.

Okay. Makes maybe sense for idiots but not for me…

Reason number 12: You do your best, more than was requested, deliver the highest quality and get punished for it

An exclusive thing from my own perspective: I was doing my internship at SENATUR, the Paraguayan national secretary of tourism. This option was conveyed from Ginesa Martinez del vas, the study director of the tourism degree. She possesses about more connections worldwide and within Spain to merge a student with an employer. Our course coordinator was – as far as I know – unfortunately not able to help the students to find an internship.

In the regulations 150 hours working time were the minimum, I agreed upfront to do 200 hours. At the end I worked for more than 500 hours to make a good impression, was always on time and showed myself as very inquisitive and ambitious. the problem here was again, that I was evaluated from the course coordinator and one more member from the organization I was working for. Both didn’t have any clue what I was doing during these three months, no insights in my tasks and a complete lack of professionalism in addition to it. So how should these people be suitable to evaluate someone? 

During my time, my main project was about ‘restructuring the strategic tourism planning from a centralistic macro-based method to an individualized micro-based approach’. This project was at the same time the title of my thesis and was from the professorate and committee noted with the highest degree of the course. But the other side of the evaluation, the internship itself, was evaluated with the lowest of all of my own grades during the study. What is paradox, because I was probably for no other module working so hard and putting so much effort into it. These show as well the 500 working others, although only 200 were agreed on. Also the results and the mark of the thesis show the appreciation. But if clueless and unprofessional people are at work and responsible for evaluating you, this will come out at the end. Sadly to see, because of this ignorance of the course coordinator I didn’t get at the end the ‘Suma Cum Laude’. This undeserved mark bummed down the average of my marks and hindered me to pass the course with accolade.

Reason number 13: You will never get feedback for your grades

Another screenshot at the end of this far too long blog entry:

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Of course I raised an objection against the low and undeserved mark I received for my performances during my internship period. But the course coordinator seems to be busy making other’s life a living hell: I am waiting now for an answer since almost 5 months. Great tactic of an outrageous personality who is in real life a mediocrity.

Now if it might seem to a few conspiracy theorists like a retaliation campaign, where I am definitely not interested in. The study had as well its good sides and I liked the idea to combine a study about tourism and innovation. But every good purpose fails, if there are people at work who treat a student like a customer and don’t have a clue how to make a professional job.

But I think, that these thirteen reasons give every interested prospects a valuable inside, was is all behind the walls of UCAM. If you want to find out more about the reasons, why it would not be worth to study, you should check the counter blog article “13 reasons to study the master degree ‘Innovation and Tourism Marketing’ at UCAM”

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