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The municipality started to collaborate with some Universities and four cooperation agreements were signed to develop research projects in various areas with students in practices:
1. Sociological study on intercultural relations in Parla: It was proposed to create an observatory with a first diagnosis and from there to design public policy strategies to address the problems and challenges identified. Five areas were chosen regarding coexistence:
• Public spaces
• Neighbours coexistence/relations
• Places of worship
2. Intercultural communication, interpretation and translation services In the translation project there are students of Arabic, Polish, Russian, Chinese, English, etc. Students perform translation tasks and mediation and are integrated into the municipal team.
3. A study about how population makes use of health services.
4. Opportunities for Parla’s internationalization.
In total, these working groups have joined 41 students from 4 teams and the valuation made by students themselves, teachers and municipal officials was very positive. No doubt this is a very interesting experience that many other cities could emulate. In the new Bologna curriculum, universities need to offer many practices to students and collaboration with local councils offers great opportunities. However, it’s important to avoid the risk that these practices end up replacing services should provide municipalities through labour contracts.