1880 World ORT founded
ORT has its roots in St. Petersburg, Russia, where it began supporting discriminated Jewish populations by enabling them to acquire skills to achieve economic independence.
In the course of its lifetime, encompassing revolutions and wars, ORT has essentially succeeded in proving its ability to respond to change.
Few organisations can boast of accomplishing such an active, worthwhile and long-lasting existence.
A great deal has changed, but fortunately many things have also endured.
To understand the current structure of ORT in Uruguay, it is worth tracing the organisation's historical development in the country.
1942 ORT Uruguay founded
In Montevideo, ORT Uruguay became part of the World ORT network in 1942.
The organisation was founded by members of the Jewish community seeking to support the influx of immigrants escaping Nazi barbarism and teach them trades that would assist in their social integration into mainstream economic and civic life in Uruguay.
1950 Expansion of the educational offering into technological areas
During the 1950s to 1970s ORT Uruguay consolidated and expanded its educational proposal to wider society, and began to specialise in more advanced technological areas, such as electronics, so as to train the technicians and professionals that the country needed.
1970 Creation of computer centres at ORT Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay
Bernard Wand-Polak served as ORT World Director for Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s.
He gained distinction for his far-sighted vision of the importance of computers and electronics in the development of countries and their educational systems.
The ORT computer centres in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay were all created under his leadership.
1980 Academic cooperation activities developed with other countries
Since the 1980' s ORT Uruguay grew rapidly, becoming one of the leading institutions for training technicians in the areas of electronics, telecommunications and computing.
Likewise, ORT Uruguay decided to expand and diversify its educational programmes according to the needs of Uruguayan society at that time.
Since the 1980s, ORT Uruguay has been engaged in academic cooperation activities with partner universities in other countries.
It is a member of several international academic associations, including the International Association of Universities and the Union of Latin American Universities.
The university has academic cooperation agreements with more than 170 academic institutions in Latin America, North America, Europe, Australia, China, South Korea, India and Israel.
These partnerships foster exchanges of teachers and students, and promote the development of cooperation initiatives.
ORT's support through its outreach programmes
From the outset, ORT Uruguay has conducted research and development activities in the area of education.
In this context, experimental projects in the field of educational computing were launched, gaining national and international recognition.
In 1980, Dr. Jorge Grünberg, the university' s rector, received the National Prize for Computer Science and in 1984 the Silver Award of Spain's Regional Centre for Computer Science Education (CREI) for his work in this area.
Through its outreach programmes, ORT supported several schools in Montevideo, with programmes in Creative Education at primary school level and Computer Science at secondary school level.
This support involved ensuring the academic and logistical conditions necessary for setting up the first computer laboratories in secondary schools.
At present, Universidad ORT Uruguay certifies computer education in 14 independent schools, including the Jewish School Network of Montevideo through its Computer Skills Certification Programme.
1985 Application for official recognition of university degrees
In 1985 ORT applied to the Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC) for official recognition of its bachelor's degrees in Systems Analyst and Electronics.
These courses were taught by various institutional departments that were merged from 1996 onwards into the current Bernard Wand-Polak Faculty of Engineering.
It is important to note that in the 1980s ORT Uruguay was already regarded as a university-level institution by Uruguayan society in terms of its resources, size, teaching staff, graduates and study plans, even before it was granted university status by the MEC.
ORT's recognition as a university was the result of many years of intense efforts.
1988 First tertiary degrees approved by the Uruguayan State
Systems and Electronics degrees
The recognition of the Systems Analyst and Electronics Analyst degrees in 1988, the first of their kind in the country, represented the first higher education approvals granted by the Uruguayan state to a non-governmental educational institution.
Opening of the School of Management
In 1988 the School of Management was also founded, the first of its kind in Uruguay.
Mother-and-Child and Productive Training Programmes
The university's outreach activities include the Integrated Social Action Project, designed and implemented by ORT Uruguay in agreement with the Montevideo City Council and financed by international organisations such as the European Community and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
The creation of a Mother-and-Child Programme and a Productive Training Programme benefited more than 20,000 people throughout the period under ORT Uruguay's tutelage. Five units were built, four of them in informal settlements, Jardines del Hipódromo, La Cantera, Paso de la Arena and El Cilindro, and one in an urban area, Eduardo Víctor Haedo (formerly Dante).
Once these programmes became self-managed, they continued to make a major contribution to society.
The centres are successfully operated by community-based management committees, trained by ORT and backed by the departmental authorities.
All the units continue to operate autonomously.
1989 ORT consolidates its status as Uruguay's largest technical education NGO
The growing student body was accompanied by significant developments in buildings and technology.
The former Instituto Tecnológico ORT was the country's largest non-governmental technical education institution.
1991 Visit by the World ORT Executive Committee
1995 First legal framework for the operation of private universities in Uruguay
In 1995 the National Government enacted decree 308/95 of 11 August to establish Uruguay's first legal framework for the operation of private universities.
1996 First organisation authorised to operate as a private university
In February 1996, ORT Uruguay was the first institution to apply for authorisation to operate as a private university, granted in September of the same year.
Thus, ORT Uruguay was the first institution in the country to be recognised as a private university under the new legal framework, and was renamed Universidad ORT Uruguay.
Following institutional recognition as a university, all the main academic departments that today make up ORT were created between 1996 and 1999:
Faculty of Engineering
The Systems Analyst and Electronics degrees, for which official recognition had been applied for from the MEC in 1985, were taught by various departments of the institution.
These departments were consolidated in 1996 into the current Faculty of Engineering, named after Eng. Bernard Wand-Polak, in recognition of his contributions and work in Latin America.
It is housed in a five-storey building in central Montevideo including computer, electronics, telecommunications, physics and biotechnology laboratories.
Faculty of Administration and Social Sciences
In 1996 the School of Management was transformed into the Faculty of Administration and Social Sciences.
In 2017, its Master’s in Business Administration - MBA was ranked among the best in Latin America for the 21st consecutive year, in the ranking published annually by the magazine América Economía.
The faculty offers undergraduate degrees in Business Administration, Economics, Accounting and International Studies, along with a wide range of postgraduate and executive training programmes.
Faculty of Communication and Design
The Faculty of Communication and Design was a pioneer in offering university degrees in design.
In 1995, ORT Uruguay launched the country's first private tertiary design course, recognised as a university course in September 1996.
This faculty currently operates with two schools offering degrees in Design and Communication, respectively. Its activities in the field of Communication began in 1996, with degrees in Journalism, Audiovisual Production and Advertising.
This faculty currently offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication with four professional specialisations: Data Analytics and Innovation, Audiovisual, Journalism, and Advertising and Marketing, as well as the Bachelor’s in Business Communication.
In 2018 the faculty launched another ground-breaking degree, the Bachelor’s Degree in Design, Art and Technology.
Faculty of Architecture
The Faculty of Architecture was founded in 1999 with the mission of providing university degrees in Architecture and Interior Design, as well as diplomas and short courses in related fields.
Universidad ORT Uruguay is currently the only private institution that awards the officially recognised degree of Architect, with the corresponding professional qualifications.
In 2015, the self-sustainable architecture project La Casa Uruguaya, designed and built by students, graduates and teachers from the Faculty of Architecture and other ORT faculties, won the international Solar Decathlon Latin America and the Caribbean competition in Colombia.
Institute of Education
Following ORT's recognition as a university, the Institute of Education was created.
Over the years, the Institute has achieved a national and international reputation for its postgraduate programmes, continuing education activities, research projects and support and advice to educational institutions. It is staffed by a distinguished academic and teaching team, with an outstanding track record and experience, ensuring excellence in training.
The Institute of Education was consolidated in 1996 with the introduction of postgraduate courses in the field of education and a new academic collaboration with Harvard University's School of Education.
The Institute is home to the Centre for Lifelong Learning in Higher Education (Centro de Actualización en la Enseñanza Superior), with the mission of supporting the continuous improvement of the quality of teaching through advisory services and continuing education for university and non-university staff.
2001 Launch of Uruguay's first business incubator
In cooperation with the Laboratorio Tecnológico del Uruguay (LATU) and with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in 2001 Universidad ORT Uruguay launched Ingenio, the country's first business incubator aimed at IT and telecommunications entrepreneurs and start-ups.
2003 Creation of the Department of Judaic Studies
In 2003, the Department of Jewish Studies was created with the intention of revitalising and expanding the experience in Jewish studies that had existed at ORT Uruguay since the very day of its opening in 1942.
Its mission is to promote awareness about Jewish culture and history through the publication of books, films, lectures and exhibitions on the subject.
Its activities include the course "Shoah: the human condition and memory" in its ninth edition, declared of educational interest by the MEC under Resolution No. 0637/020.
Since 1982, the university has been publishing the annual "Ioman ORT", a free thematic agenda for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), focusing on events and personalities relevant to the Jewish world.
2004 Creation of the Student Exchange Coordination Office
In 2004 the university created the Student Exchange Coordination Office, in charge of bilateral exchange agreements, through which more than 100 students from all over the world come to study at ORT every year.
An example of these programmes is the collaboration with Harbin Normal University in China, which started in 2009.
Chinese students pursue the third year of their degree at ORT, through the Joint Spanish Language Programme developed by ORT and the Chinese university.
They also take part in university courses, together with other international and Uruguayan students.
The first generation of 42 Chinese students arrived in Uruguay in September 2012, marking the first ever student exchange between an Uruguayan and a Chinese university.
Publication of the first university yearbook
In 2004, Universidad ORT Uruguay's first yearbook was published.
Since then, the yearbooks cover the organisation's main activities with the aim of showcasing the vibrancy, diversity and creativity of its academic community.
2005 First Mercosur accreditation obtained
In 2005, the Degrees in Electronic Engineering and Telecommunications Engineering were certified at Mercosur level through the Experimental Mechanism for the Accreditation of Degrees (MEXA), for a maximum period of six years.
This certification was renewed in 2011, through the ARCU-SUR system that replaced MEXA.
The Architecture programme was also recognised by the ARCU-SUR system in 2009 for the maximum term, having renewed its certification in 2016.
2008 Agreement signed with California Institute of the Arts
In 2008, the Faculty of Communication and Design signed an academic cooperation framework agreement with the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in the United States, which served as support for the launch of the Bachelor's Degree in Animation and Video Games (2010), the only university degree in the field offered in Uruguay.
2009 Creation of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre
In 2009, the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) of Universidad ORT Uruguay was created, with the aim of promoting and developing a new generation of entrepreneurs.
Its actions are geared towards fostering innovation and entrepreneurship among students, creating opportunities and strengthening links between entrepreneurs and the academic and socio-productive sectors.
Students and graduates receive support in entering the labour market (with more than 95% of graduates employed) and in setting up businesses, often based on their degree projects.
Thousands of graduates excel in their careers, many of them in companies they set up themselves.
2012 Introduction of the country's first PhD in Education
In July 2012, the Institute of Education of launched Uruguay's first Doctorate in Education.
This advanced postgraduate course, recognised by the MEC in 2014, comprises an international network of researchers who focus their academic efforts on issues of relevance to national educators.
2013 Launch of the first MOOC on programming for teenagers
At the end of 2013, the Faculty of Engineering developed SM4T, the country's first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) aimed at teaching programming to teenagers. The pilot edition of this course was attended by 1,290 students. The SM4T was a joint initiative of Universidad ORT Uruguay and the Plan Ceibal state-run computer education programme.
Based on SM4T, the "¡A Programar!” (“Code Yourself!”) course was produced for the Coursera platform, along with an English version prepared in collaboration with The University of Edinburgh (UK).
Inauguration of the 3D Prototyping Laboratory
In 2012, the university received funding from the National Agency for Research and Innovation (ANII) in a competitive call for proposals that facilitated the construction of the 3D Prototyping Laboratory, which was inaugurated in June 2013.
This laboratory was the first of its kind in Uruguay and complements the School of Design's other facilities for working with metal, wood, plastic and textile materials.
Accreditation of the MBA by AMBA
In January 2013, the Master’s in Business Administration - MBA was accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA), an international authority on graduate management education dedicated to certifying the quality of MBA and PhD courses in Business Administration.
This accreditation places the MBA among the top 6% of accredited MBAs worldwide.
The AMBA' s accreditation was renewed in 2017.
2014 Recognition of the PhD in Education by the MEC
Students from several Latin American countries are enrolled in the Doctorate in Education at Universidad ORT Uruguay, which was recognised by the MEC in 2014.
This doctorate is a pioneering pedagogical proposal in Uruguay, emerging in response to the need –present both in the country and in the region– to train highly qualified researchers in the field of education.
It is hoped that, on completing the postgraduate course, PhDs in Education will be in a position to develop original and innovative research that will provide solutions to today's main educational challenges.
2015 Visit by Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Dr. Dan Shechtman
On 24 November 2015, the university hosted the visit of Dr. Dan Shechtman, Chairman of the Academic Advisory Board of World ORT, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2011.
2016 Establishment of the Technology Centre
Universidad ORT Uruguay conducts research in all its faculties, with an emphasis on applied research.
Research is carried out in close contact with companies and research centres, seeking the widest possible participation among students.
Academic output is reflected in articles in peer-reviewed journals, presentations at technical conferences, books and book chapters, as well as results transferred to industry in different forms.
In 2016 ORT's academic corps generated 166 publications, which were distributed among practically all the university departments.
In 2016, a Technology Centre was set up to work jointly with the Biotechnology industry. This facility was awarded funding in 2015 in a competitive call for proposals launched by the National Agency for Research and Innovation.
The Centre's objective is research collaboration in the design of new products and services, including the design of bioprocesses, the development of analytical and diagnostic tools, the creation of genetically modified organisms, and various facets of protein chemistry and its interaction with nanotechnology.
2017 Inauguration of the Biotechnology Laboratory
In 2017, the 300 m2 Biotechnology Laboratory was inaugurated with new type 1 and 2 biosafety rooms, fermentation rooms, protein purification equipment, washing and material preparation areas and common Analytical and Molecular Biology sectors.
This provides students with access to state-of-the-art equipment from the first year, ensuring a high level of technical knowledge and skills acquisition.
Throughout the degree course, the faculty's own laboratories are used, purpose built for training in chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology and genetic engineering.
Students gain a thorough grounding in the use of instruments and the mastery of the laboratory techniques commonly used in industry and research.
Through agreements with institutions such as LATU, the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INIA) and the Pasteur Institute in Montevideo, students also have access to large-scale equipment, both to facilitate the development of special projects and activities and to demonstrate and practice instrumental techniques.
Launch of the Master’s in Teacher Training
In April 2017, the Institute of Education launched the first edition of the Master's in Teacher Training.
This postgraduate course, unique in the country, creates a space for the development of skills in planning, implementation and evaluation of training actions in different areas, both in the formal and non-formal education sectors.
Start of the ORT Recycling initiative
ORT Uruguay University has started to implement actions towards recycling part of the more than 600 kilograms of waste generated daily by the institution at over 25,000 m² of campus facilities in Centro and Pocitos.
2018 Scopus Prize awarded to Prof. Charlotte de Grünberg
In its first edition in Uruguay, the Scopus Prize –a prize given out for decades by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJ) through its associations of friends in different countries– was awarded to the Director General of the Universidad ORT Uruguay, Prof. Charlotte de Grünberg.
The honour is presented to those who have performed outstanding work in their respective fields and whose humanitarian efforts have contributed to the development and betterment of their communities, the Jewish people, the State of Israel, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and society at large.
World ORT delegation visit
On the 9th of May, a delegation of 48 representatives from different countries visited Universidad ORT Uruguay. The visitors included the President of World ORT, Dr. Conrad Giles, the President of ORT France, Lucien Kalfon, and ORT's Director General, Avi Ganon.
Recognition by the Uruguayan Accreditation Body
As part of the commemoration of World Accreditation Day 2018, organised by the Uruguayan Accreditation Body (Organismo Uruguayo de Acreditación), Asociación Uruguaya ORT received recognition as the first partner in the university, technical and scientific sector.
Lecture by the Nobel Laureate in Economics
Dr. Finn Kydland, winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Economics, gave a lecture at the Faculty of Administration and Social Sciences as a guest of the Research Institute for Development, Growth and Economics.
The Norwegian economist gave the conference "Economic policy in the growth of nations", as part of the event "Workshop on trade and firm dynamics / Growth and development in macroeconomics", which took place from 12-14 December.
Full member of the European Foundation for Management Development
The Faculty of Administration and Social Sciences became a full member of the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), one of the world's most respected accrediting institutions for business schools.
2019 Membership of the United Nations Academic Impact network
Universidad ORT Uruguay was admitted to the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) network, a conglomerate of institutions that promotes the academic activities of the UN.
The network, with 1,300 members in 135 countries, advocates for the protection of human rights, access to education, sustainability and conflict resolution.
This membership is a recognition of the activities carried out by the Department of International Studies of the Faculty of Administration and Social Sciences on issues related to the United Nations.
Full member of the global Cumulus association
The Faculty of Communication and Design became a full member of Cumulus, the only global association for education and research in art and design, with more than 280 universities in 57 countries.
Cumulus is a forum for the exchange of knowledge and best practices, where member universities discuss trends and issues on the future of higher education in these disciplines.
Visit of a delegation from the Jewish Federations of North America
A total of 130 members of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) visited the university on 1 August 2019.
Previously they toured the Jewish People's Holocaust Memorial accompanied by the dean of the Faculty of Architecture and co-author of the memorial project, Arch. Gastón Boero.
2020 Inclusion in the Times Higher Education’s Latin America University Rankings
In July 2020, Universidad ORT Uruguay was included in the Times Higher Education's Latin America University Rankings, marking the addition of a new country to the distinguished list.
Until 2019 there were 12 countries from the Americas and in the 2020 edition there will be 13, thanks to the inclusion of Uruguay.
Times Higher Education is a UK publication that reports on developments and issues in higher education.
Its ranking is considered one of the largest and most diverse in the world, and is audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers as a benchmark for students, teachers, governments and industry experts.
Recognition by World ORT
Professor Charlotte de Grünberg, Director General of Universidad ORT Uruguay, was the 2020 winner of the Robert Singer Award conferred by World ORT to outstanding professionals.
This annual recognition honours individuals who have attained high levels of achievement for ORT, for the institutions where they work and for their beneficiaries.
De Grünberg was recognised for "decades of dedication to ORT and education around the world, but more particularly in Uruguay and Latin America in general," said the president of the World ORT Board of Directors.
Swift adaptation to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic
Following the confirmation of the first cases of coronavirus in Uruguay, as of Monday 16 March 2020 ORT suspended face-to-face classes and started teaching them online.
The sudden need to use tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, while also increasing the use of other familiar tools, including the Moodle Classroom, represented a major challenge for teaching and learning.
But, as in any crisis, opportunities for creativity and innovation arose, and Universidad ORT Uruguay was quickly capable of adapting to cope with the new reality, so that students could continue their courses.
Tribute to World ORT in its 140 years
As part of the commemoration of the 140 years of World ORT, Universidad ORT Uruguay invited students, graduates and teachers to share their experiences as part of this local educational community.
2021 Participation in the Expo Prado with the Embassy of Israel
On its return to the Expo Prado after 24 years, the Embassy of Israel had its stand designed by two students of the Bachelor of Interior Design of the Faculty of Architecture. The stand also obtained the mention of the best facade of the 2021 edition of the exhibition.