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Spain:Higher Education

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Overview Spain

Contents

Spain:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Spain:Historical Development

Spain:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Spain:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Spain:Political and Economic Situation

Spain:Organisation and Governance

Spain:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Spain:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Spain:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Spain:Organisation of Private Education

Spain:National Qualifications Framework

Spain:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Spain:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Spain:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Spain:Funding in Education

Spain:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Spain:Higher Education Funding

Spain:Adult Education and Training Funding

Spain:Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Organisation of Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Assessment in Early Childhood Education and Care

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

Spain:Primary Education

Spain:Organisation of Primary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

Spain:Assessment in Primary Education

Spain:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

Spain:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

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

Higher education is integrated by:

  • University education
  • Advanced vocational training 
  • Specialised Education, which include Professional Artistic Education, Professional Plastic Arts and Design, and Higher Sports Education.

Tertiary education programmes lead to the following qualifications, according to the Spanish Qualification Framework for Higher Education (MECES):

Levels and qualifications in the Spanish Qualifications Framework for Higher Education

LEVELS
QUALIFICATIONS
1 Advanced Technician 

Advanced Technician in Vocational Training 

Advanced Technician in Plastic Arts and Design

Advanced Technician in Sports Education

2 Bachelor's Degree 

University Bachelor's Degree 

Bachelor in Advanced Artistic Education1

3 Master's Degree

University Master´s Degree

Master's Degree in Advanced Artistic Education

Bachelor’s degree of at least 300 ECTS credits including at least 60 ECTS credits at Master’s level, which has obtained this level of qualification by resolution of the Council of Universities

4 Doctoral Degree Doctoral Degree (PhD)

1This degree is affected by the Supreme Court Sentence of the 12th of January 2012.

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice Spain-REDIE.

University education

Structure

The adaptation of the structure of Spanish university education to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) has been completed (2001 Act on Universities and 2007 Act Modifying the Act on Universities).

University education is organised into Bachelor, Master and PhD programmes.

General objectives and functions

Under the principle of autonomy of universities, the university system is granted with the development of a public service of higher education through research, teaching and study.

The university system has the following functions:

  • creation, development, transmission and critical analysis of science, technology and culture
  • training of students for professional activities in areas which require applying knowledge, scientific methods and artistic creativity
  • spread, appreciation and transfer of knowledge at the service of culture, life quality and economic development
  • diffusion of knowledge and culture by means of the extension of university education
  • lifelong learning.

(1978 Spanish Constitution, Article 27).

The current legislation assigns the following general objectives to university education:

  • facilitate the acquisition of the qualifications demanded by the productive sector and by the public sector, and to improve adaptability to social and economic changes
  • promote quality, competitiveness and the internationalization of universities
  • foster scientific productivity, transfer of knowledge, technological development and innovation in all branches of knowledge
  • facilitate university governance, by means of promoting measures which guarantee the exercise of government and managerial functions, the review of internal management and governance procedures and the implementation of good practices in accordance with internationally recognised criteria of quality and efficiency in management
  • increase transparency, internal control of finances and budgetary balance, as well as an external evaluation of their activity
  • encourage talent recruitment, international mobility and collaboration with international reference universities and research institutions
  • promote measures to attract private national and international investment, so as to contribute to the financing of the objectives of the university, especially in the area of research, transfer of knowledge and creation of innovation and technology-based business projects.

Structure of the academic year

Each university designs the organisation of the academic year and includes it in their statutes.

As a general rule, the university school year has 220 school days, and is divided into two semesters:

  • first semester: it runs from the beginning of the academic year, mid-September, to the end of January or beginning of February, when students sit the final examinations for the subjects taken during the first semester and the partial examinations for annual subjects
  • second semester: it extends from the beginning of February to the end of May. The examinations corresponding to this semester, as well as final examinations for annual subjects, are held in June.

Universities allow for retake examination sessions, which can be held in July or September, to be decided by each university.

Measures to place Spanish universities within a better position for internal cooperation and international competence

  1. Creation of strategic alliances

The aim is to develop studies leading to official university degrees or programmes and projects of international excellence in conjunction with other institutions.

This cooperation may be among universities, with Public Research Organisations, with the businesses and other agents of the Spanish System of Science, Technology and Innovation, which may belong to other countries.

  1. Flexibilisation of the organisation of university studies and promotion of their autonomy

In a manner compatible with the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), curricular diversification and the capacity for innovation give universities the responsibility of designing and proposing study plans which they believe are more attractive and meet their resources and interests.

The National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation of Spain (ANECA) is responsible for the evaluation of the study plans and degrees of universities, as for their accreditation and quality.

Some Autonomous Communities have created within their territories quality assessment agencies with the same functions as the ANECA. 

Advanced vocational training

It comprises a series of programmes which provide qualifications for a number of professional fields, as well as access to employment and active participation in social, cultural and economic life.

Vocational Training is a priority area within the education and economic policy of Spain, and has become one of its main action lines. An ambitious package of reforms in legislation introduced a series of important changes in this type of provision, so as to contribute to adapt the training offer to the demands of the different productive sectors, to increase the educational offer, to advance towards the integration of Vocational Training in the education system, and to strengthen the cooperation between the different Education Authorities, as well with other social agents and with the entrepreneurial sector.

When it comes to the education system, since December 2013, vocational training provision is being reformed and changes in the conditions for admission to advanced vocational training have been introduced, although they will not be implemented until the 2016/17 academic year.

(2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education, modifying the 2006 Education Act).

For more information, see National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning.

Structure

Advanced Vocational Training is organised in training cycles, which have a modular structure.

It includes a vocational module, which requires the elaboration of a project during the last stage of the training cycle.

The different training cycles are related to any of the 26 professional families established in the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications. For more information, see Lifelong Learning Strategy

Aim and objectives

The aim of Vocational Training within the education system is to provide learners with professional qualifications, to facilitate their adjustment to changes in society and in the labour market which may take place during their lives, as well as to contribute to personal development and the exercise of democratic citizenship, promoting at the same time inclusion, social cohesion and Lifelong Learning.

The objective of advanced Advanced Vocational Training is to provide students with the professional, personal and social competences which will allow them to:

  • engage in a professional activity related to the general competence area of the relevant Vocational Training programme
  • understand the organisation and characteristics of the relevant productive sector, the mechanisms for professional insertion, the pertinent labour legislation and the rights and obligations arising from labour relationships
  • consolidate the habits of discipline, individual and teamwork, as well as the ability for self-learning and for critical analysis
  • establish interpersonal and social relationships, both at professional and personal levels, based on the peaceful resolution of conflicts, the respect to others and the rejection to violence or to any kind of prejudice and to sexist behaviour
  • prevent labour and environmental risks, and implement measures to work under conditions of health and safety
  • develop a professional motivation for future learning, and be able to adapt to the evolution of production processes and to social changes
  • promote creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship
  • use information and communication technologies, as well as the foreign languages required in their professional activity
  • communicate effectively both at professional and personal levels
  • manage their professional careers, analyzing the most suitable training itineraries in order to improve employability.

Structure of the academic year

On the basis of the minimum requirements the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (MECD) establishes for the entire State, the education authorities of the Autonomous Communities are responsible for the annual organisation of the academic year for non-university levels, which include Advance Vocational Training.   

Generally, the duration of the academic year comprises a minimum of 175 days, distributed between the first fortnight of September and the end of June, grouped in trimesters.

School holidays are distributed throughout the course:

  • summer period, generally beginning at the end of June: 12 weeks
  • Christmas: approximately a fortnight
  • end of March o beginning of April (Easter): between 8 and 11 days 
  • 7 days declared as holidays by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, regional education authorities or local authorities.

During the summer holidays, institutions may remain open until the end of the month of July. The same applies with work days that are not holidays during the Christmas and Easter breaks.