In the next academic year 2021-2022, 200 undergraduate and master’s degree students from public universities will be able to carry out internships in the so-called emptied Spain – municipalities or rural centers of less than 5,000 inhabitants – with a gross salary of 1,000 euros per month. The new Rural Campus program, presented this Thursday by the ministries of Universities and Ecological Transition, will allow the selected students to reside for a minimum of three months and a maximum of five in areas at risk of depopulation with the aim of “breaking prejudices” and to get young people to consider working in that environment as a job possibility once they have finished their studies.
Young people who present their application to the internship, to whom the Administration will cover the expenses derived from Social Security, must choose an autonomous community other than that of their university. For the implementation of the program, the first step will have to be taken by the companies, which will send their internship proposal to the universities ―with the essential requirements that the student must meet or the schedule of the day, among other points― before the next October 30. Next, the universities will have to communicate the preselected proposals to the managing committee of the Rural Campus program before November 15, and these will be validated before December 15. From that moment on, students will be able to opt for any of these offers, which will be assigned before February 15, 2022. Internships will be curricular or extracurricular.
Students will be required to reside in the destination municipality for the duration of the internship to “complete a true immersion experience” and “promote the emotional and work connection” of young people with the territory. The idea is to attract new talent to those areas. When selecting the 200 students, their academic record will be taken into account. Once at the destination, the student will have an academic tutor from their university and an internship tutor from the organization where they are staying. Each of the universities may participate in the program for a maximum of two and a half years because the two ministries seek to achieve a balance between territories.
The Ministry of Universities has been inspired by the Challenge program of the University of Zaragoza, known as Rural Erasmus, a project subsidized by the provincial council with 30,000 euros per year for 24 students to do internships in municipalities with less than 3,000 inhabitants. They pay them accommodation, subsistence and a scholarship of 300 euros per month. Another of the programs that has served as an example is that of the University of Castilla-La Mancha, UCLM-Rural, whose results “motivate us to replicate the model on a national scale” to reactivate those territories.
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