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Spain:Bachelor

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Spain:Early Childhood Education and Care

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Spain:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

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Spain:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

Spain:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

Spain:Vocational Lower Secondary Education: Basic Vocational Training cycles

Spain:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Spain:Higher Education

Spain:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Spain:First Cycle Programmes

Spain:Bachelor

Spain:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Spain:Second Cycle Programmes

Spain:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Spain:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Spain:Adult Education and Training

Spain:Distribution of Responsibilities

Spain:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Spain:Main Providers

Spain:Main Types of Provision

Spain:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Spain:Teachers and Education Staff

Spain:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Spain:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Spain:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Spain:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Management and Other Education Staff

Spain:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Spain:Management Staff for Higher Education

Spain:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Spain:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Quality Assurance

Spain:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Spain:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Educational Support and Guidance

Spain:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Spain:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Spain:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Spain:Mobility and Internationalisation

Spain:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Mobility in Higher Education

Spain:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Spain:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Spain:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Spain:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:National Reforms in School Education

Spain:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Spain:National Reforms in Higher Education

Spain:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Spain:European Perspective

Spain:Legislation

Spain:Institutions

Spain:Bibliography

Spain:Glossary

Branches of study

Bachelor's degrees have a duration of 180-240 credits of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), and are ascribed to one of the following branches of knowledge:

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Experimental Sciences
  • Health Sciences
  • Social Sciences and Law
  • Engineering and Architecture.

Admission requirements

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (MECD) regulates the access to university studies, establishing the general conditions at national level. Regional education authorities adapt and develop them within the scope of their competences.

University access is guaranteed through the observance of the fundamental rights. Furthermore, admission to university is granted on the basis of equality, merit and ability. In addition, universal accessibility and design are also taken into consideration.

The body in charge of ensuring that students access official Bachelor programmes is the General Conference for University Policy. This body is general, objective and universal, equally valid for all Spanish universities and complies with the criteria established by the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).

Students holding any of the following certificates may have access to official Bachelor programmes:

  1. Bachillerato certificate or equivalent certificate
  2. European Baccalaureate Certificate, International Baccalaureate Diploma, or Bachillerato certificates, diplomas or studies from the education systems of the Member States of the European Union (EU) or from other States that have signed international agreements with Spain that are applicable in this regard on a basis of reciprocity. In this case, students have to meet the academic requirements established in their countries of origin in order to have access to their universities 
  3. Vocational Training Advanced Technician certificate in any specialisation, Plastic Arts and Design Advanced Technician certificate, or Sports Advanced Technician certificate or equivalent certificates
  4. certificates, diplomas or studies equivalent to the Bachillerato certificate from the education systems of the Member States of the EU or from other States that have signed international agreements with Spain that are applicable in this regard on a basis of reciprocity. In this case, students do not meet the academic requirements established in their countries of origin in order to have access to their universities
  5. certificates, diplomas or studies, recognised or equivalent to the Bachillerato certificate of the Spanish education system, obtained or completed in States that are not members of the EU and that have not concluded international agreements for the recognition of the Bachillerato certificate on a basis of reciprocity
  6. official Bachelor or Master degree or equivalent degree
  7. official Graduated, Technical Architect, Technical Engineer, Bachelor, Architect, Engineer degrees, corresponding to the previous organisation of university education or equivalent degree
  8. students with partial university studies carried out in Spain or abroad, or students whose foreign degrees have not been recognised or declared equivalent in Spain but who want to continue studying in a Spanish university (in this case, students have to be recognised at least 30 ECTS credits by the relevant university)
  9. students who were in a position to have access to university according to the organisation of the Spanish education system prior to the 2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education
  10. certificates, diplomas or studies, different from those equivalent to the Bachillerato certificate, the Vocational Training Advanced Technician certificate, the Plastic Arts and Design Advanced Technician certificate, or the Sports Advanced Technician certificate of the Spanish education system, obtained or completed in Member States of the EU or in other States that have signed international agreements with Spain that are applicable in this regard on a basis of reciprocity. In this case, students have to meet the academic requirements established in their countries of origin in order to have access to their universities.
  11. people aged over 25, 40 and 45 who do not hold any qualification to gain access to university education by other means.

Public universities establish both the admission procedures and the criteria to take into consideration in each procedure, which depend on the certificate held by the candidate:

1. Candidates holding the certificates of sections 1 and 2:

  • universities may exclusively use the final grade obtained in Bachillerato or establish admission procedures
  • if they establish admission procedures, universities must use one or several of the following criteria:
    • branch and subjects taken in previous studies equivalent to the Bachillerato certificate (related to the university qualification chosen)
    • grades obtained in specific subjects taken or in the final evaluation of the studies equivalent to the Spanish Bachillerato
    • additional academic or vocational training
    • higher education previously pursued.

In addition, universities may exceptionally establish specific knowledge and/or skill evaluations.

Both admission procedures will be implemented from the 2017/18 academic year in the case of students who have obtained the Bachillerato certificate established by the 2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education.

Until then, students have to pass the university entrance examination.

2. Candidates holding the certificates of sections 3 to 10:

  • universities must establish admission procedures: 3, 4 and 5
  • universities may establish admission procedures: 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10
  • in all cases, the admission procedures established by universities must use one or several of the following criteria:
    • final grade obtained in the studies completed, and/or in specific modules or subjects
    • relationship between the curricula of the previous studies and the relevant university studies (in the cases of the Vocational Training Advanced Technician certificate, the Plastic Arts and Design Advanced Technician certificate or the Sports Advanced Technician certificate, the branch of knowledge established in Royal Decree 1618/2011, as well as the relationship between the studies mentioned and the Bachelor degrees, must be taken into account)
    • additional academic or vocational training
    • higher education previously pursued.

Universities may exceptionally establish specific knowledge and/or skill evaluations.

3. People aged over 25, 40 and 45 who do not hold any qualification to gain access to university education may have access if they pass a specific university entrance examination.


In those cases in which there is an admission procedure, each university decides on the location and dates for the sessions, as well as on the registration dates for students and the date when the examination will be held.

Until the 2017/18 academic year, universities may take into account the subjects of the university entrance examination and use the grade obtained in them as an assessment criterion in admission procedures.

University entrance examination

Structure of the university entrance examination

QUALIFICATIONS
GENERAL PART1 AND 2
SPECIFIC PART1
Bachillerato certificate or equivalent
Subject of the 2nd year of Bachillerato to which it is related and type of exercise
Subject of the 2nd year of Bachillerato to which it is related and type of exercise

Common subjects3: Spanish Language and Literature, History of Philosophy, Spanish History and, where applicable, Sciences for the Contemporary World, Philosophy and Citizenship, and Foreign Language (they have to choose between English, German, French, Italian and Portuguese.

- Written analysis of a non-specialised educational or informative text in Spanish.

- A number of questions on one of the common subjects.

- Exercise to assess the listening and reading skills in the Foreign Language chosen4.

A maximum of four subjects to be chosen from the set of specific subjects to each branch3 and 5:

They must be different from the subject from the set of specific subjects to each branch in which the student is being examined in the general stage, if he/she is sitting both parts in the same examination session.

One subject from the set of specific subjects to each branch3 which is established by the education authority: A series of questions.
Co-official Language of the Autonomous Community where the examination is sat, in those Autonomous Communities with a co-official language: The education authority may establish a mandatory exercise on the relevant language.
People aged over 252

- Text analysis or development of a general issue of current interest.

- Spanish Language.

- Foreign Language, choosing between English, German, French, Italian and Portuguese.

- Co-official Language of the Autonomous Community where the examination is sat, in those Autonomous Communities with a co-official language: The education authority may establish a mandatory exercise on the relevant language.

It is structured into five options, out of which they have to choose one:

A: Arts and Humanities.

B: Sciences.

C: Health Sciences.

D: Social and Legal Sciences.

E: Engineering and Architecture.

People aged over 452

- Text analysis or development of a general issue of current interest.

- Spanish Language.

- Co-official Language of the Autonomous Community where the examination is sat, in those Autonomous Communities with a co-official language: The education authority may establish a mandatory exercise on the relevant language.

- Personal interview whose result must be a ‘Pass’ in order to be admitted.

People aged over 40 who prove work or professional experience

- Candidates do not have any academic qualification in order to have access to university education by other means.

- They attain or have attained the age of 40 before 1 October of the relevant academic year.

- The accredited work or professional experience must be related to teaching.

Universities include accreditation criteria as well as related areas of work and professional experience in the report on the study programme for each type of provision, so that they can rank the candidates. In all cases, a personal interview will be held with the applicant.

1All exercises include two options, out of which students have to choose one.

2In order to do the exercises, candidates can choose any of the official languages of the Autonomous Community where the institution where they are sitting the examination is located. The exercises on Spanish Language, the relevant Co-Official Language and Foreign Language must be completed in each language.

3For more information, see Teaching and learning in general upper secondary education.

4In the 2015/16 academic year, it is expected to include an exercise to assess the listening and speaking skills of candidates.

5This part is voluntary, allowing candidates to improve the grade obtained in the general part. It is intended to evaluate their knowledge and reasoning skills in some specific disciplines, related to the studies chosen.

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice Spain-Spanish Network for Information on Education (National Centre for Educational Innovation and Research, Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport) on the basis of regulations.

The MECD after due consultation to the General Conference for University Policy, may set up a limit for the number of places available in each of the programmes. This numerus clausus is valid for all universities, either public or private.

Regulations also establish the procedures in case the number of applicants exceeds the number of places offered. In this case, state universities will use the corresponding admission mark for the allocation of places. Such mark will be worked out through the following formula and will be expressed with three decimal numbers, rounded to the nearest thousandth and, in the event of equidistance, to the higher one:

Admission Mark= 0,6 × AMB + 0,4 × MGP + a × M1 + b × M2

(AMB = Average Mark in Bachillerato; MGP = Mark in the general Part; M1, M2 = The best two marks obtained in the subjects passed during the specific part; a, b = Weighting parameters of the subjects within the specific part).

The admission mark will incorporate the marks obtained in the subjects during the specific part when such subjects belong  to the branch of knowledge within the field of studies for which admission is requested.

Universities may assign to parameters a) and b), values between 0.1 and 0.2 to parameters a) and b).

The maximum number of places in each public university is published annually. These places are proposed by each university, which must be approved by the relevant regional government.

Curriculum

Universities enjoy the autonomy to design the curriculum for the programmes and degrees they offer. However, the programmes must be verified by the Council of Universities and receive authorisation from the relevant regional government, once they have been submitted to consultation of the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA) and/or the analogous Agency of the corresponding Autonomous Community.

Once the studies have been verified and accredited, the studies are registered in the Registry of Universities, Centres and Degrees (RUCT) as mandatory requisite to obtain the official validity throughout Spain. 

The guidelines to be followed by each university in the design of their study programmes are:

  • have number of credits devoted to basic training that must represent at least 25% of the total number of credits of the degree
  • at least 60% of the credits of basic training must be linked to some of the areas included in the knowledge branch to which the programme belongs. These areas are further specified into subjects, with a minimum of 6 ECTS credits each, which need to be taken during the first half of the programme
  • the remaining credits of basic training must be earned through basic subjects from the same branch of knowledge or from a different one, or through other areas, provided that they are basic for the initial training of the student or they have a cross-curricular nature
  • external placements must have a minimum duration of 25% of the total number of credits of the degree, and should be preferably offered in the second half of the study programme
  • in the final stage of the programme, students must do the Bachelor's project. It must represent a minimum of 6 ECTS credits and a maximum of 12.5% of the total number of credits of the degree. The aim of the project is to assess the acquisition of competences associated to the degree
  • study programmes must provide for the possibility that students may receive accreditation of at least 6 ECTS credits (out of the total number of credits of the degree) for their participation in university activities related to the area of culture, sports, students’ representation, solidarity and cooperation.

In those universities located in regions which have a co-official language, the regional language is the one normally used in university activities, in compliance with the regulations for university education established by each regional government.

Teaching methods

Universities follow the principle of autonomy to decide on methodology.

Teachers employ different teaching methods at university, being lectures the most common practice, although it is becoming more and more common to resort to other types of activities, such as seminars, cooperative work, learning based on problem-solving activities, project-based learning, etc. Practical classes (for example, laboratory or computer practices) are very frequent in experimental science studies. 

University departments are the basic bodies in charge of both teaching and research of their respective areas of knowledge. They are responsible for the planning and coordination of the curriculum and of research activity at universities. In practice, teachers are free to make use of the teaching methods and pedagogical resources they consider more appropriate.

The use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the classroom is quite frequent. Most universities have technology support services for teachers, so as to help them devise multimedia materials and to encourage their use of ICTs. Presentations by means of computers or overhead projectors are also common practice, as well as the use of videos, computer-assisted learning, etc. In addition, teacher/student communication through the Internet or through virtual classrooms, online platforms, virtual spaces for specific subjects, websites, and so on.

Progression of students 

Universities, making use of their autonomy, establish the conditions for the promotion of the students, as well as the minimum and maximum periods of permanence of students.

In order to pass a subject, students are allowed to sit examinations for a limited number of times. Students have between four and six attempts depending of the programme or institution. Moreover, they are allowed to take final examinations for the same subject only twice a year. 

Employability

A main concern for both the Education Authorities and universities is improving the employability of their university graduates. In order to deal with this problem, university education must respond to the following principles:

  • include in their study programmes abilities and skills geared towards innovation, the fostering of creativity, business initiative and entrepreneurship, incorporating them into the different subjects, concepts and cross-curricular competences, in learning methods and in assessment
  • make proposals for new degrees and educational provision which prepare students for the qualifications required by new employment needs so as to improve employability of citizens in the labour market
  • promote adaptability to social and economic changes, providing citizens with opportunities for ongoing professional development and extension of university studies; and to increase the possibilities for mobility in education within Spain and in Europe, as well as the effective incorporation of university graduates into the labour market, strengthening the links between universities and the business world, paying special attention to the promotion of competences for entrepreneurship and self-employment.

Collaboration between universities and the productive sector may be articulated on the basis of the following initiatives:

  • creation of technology-based innovation companies
  • establishment of innovation poles, by means of providing a common physical space for universities and companies in the production sector
  • launching and promotion of programmes to enhance transfer and appreciation of knowledge
  • creation of consortiums for research and transfer of knowledge
  • creation of corporate-sponsored university chairs, based on collaboration in research projects, which allow university students to participate and combine their research activity with training opportunities.

In addition, both in the regulations for university education and in the 2010 University Student Statute, there are a series of specific measures aimed at promoting employability of university students, such as:

  • mobility programmes through university cooperation agreements: they pay attention to academic training related to the degree in which the student is enrolled, and to other competence areas, such as training for employment. For more information, see Mobility in Higher Education
  • student information and guidance services, the aim of which is to provide information and orientation regarding learning itineraries and future professional opportunities, training in cross-curricular competences and design of professional projects, in order to facilitate student employability and insertion in the labour market
  • student guidance and monitoring. The law also considers the possibility of degree advisors. These are coordinators or student advisors who provide guidance to students throughout the program, regarding their learning process as well as their professional prospects in the labour market
  • alumni associations for former students, registered at universities. One of their goals is to collaborate actively in providing access to the labour market to university graduates.

For more information, see Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education.

Student assessment

Universities verify the knowledge acquired by students, as well as the development of their intellectual training and their academic achievements. In order to do so, it is necessary to establish assessment regulations. Evaluation objectives, tools, procedures, activities and criteria are set up in the syllabi of each programme, and fall under the responsibility of university departments and teachers.

One of the results of the adaptation to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) is the implementation of an assessment system for university education, the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). The European credit is the unit for academic accreditation, it represents the amount of work that a student must complete in order to attain programme objectives. Each ECTS credit represents between 25 and 30 class hours. In order to obtain the number of ECTS credits assigned to a subject, both in practical or theoretical learning or in any other academic activity, students must pass the exams or assessment procedures established for that area.

The results obtained by students in each subject, which appear in the student’s record, receive a numerical mark from 0 to 10, with a decimal position, which can be followed by a qualitative mark:

  • 0-4.9:  Fail
  • 5.0–6.9: Pass
  • 7.0–8.9: Very good
  • 9.0–10: Excellent.

Students may also be awarded an Excellent mark 'with Distinction', when the student has been given a 9.0 or higher. The number of students receiving this special mention cannot be higher than 5% of the total enrolled in a subject in an academic year. If this number is lower than 20, only one Excellent with Distinction may be awarded.

According with 2010 official regulations for university education, certified professional or working experience may also receive recognition in terms of credits, with validity to obtain an official qualification, as long as the experience is related to the competences inherent to the qualification. 

Certification

On completion of a Bachelor's degree programme, students receive a Bachelor’s degree in the relevant area of specialisation. The diploma bears the specific name given to the degree in the Registry of Universities, Centres and Degrees (RUCT).

The diploma is issued, on behalf of the King o Spain, by the University Vice-Chancellor. It has official validity in all Spanish universities, and qualifies for regulated professional activities, under the conditions established in the relevant official documents.

It certifies that the holder has acquired the skills of Level 2 of the Spanish Qualifications Framework for Higher Education. It certifies Level 3 if the Bachelor degree, of at least 300 ECTS credits, includes at least 60 Master’s level ECTS credits. This qualification level is achieved through resolution of the Council of Universities.

As a result of the process of adaptation to the EHEA, a new procedure has been established, by means of which universities may issue the European Diploma Supplement of official university degrees, upon request of the person concerned. For more information, see Conditions for the issuance of the Diploma Supplement (Bachelor and Master degrees).

Relationships and recognition between higher education qualifications

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport has regulated the recognition of studies among the different studies, establishing the relations between the different Higher Education diplomas, as for the validation of ECTS credits, including Bachelor degrees and Higher Technician from Advanced Vocational Training.

Universities are responsible for the recognition of official studies accrediting Higher Technician of Advanced Vocational Training, with the effects of allowing students into study programmes leading to the university Bachelor's degrees.