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Spain:Types of Higher Education Institutions

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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

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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

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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 institutions are classified according to whether they organise university or non-university provision.

Those providing non-university education are further subdivided into centres which offer advanced vocational training cycles and specialised education institutions.

University education

This type of provision is organised by universities, which may be public or private.

Public universities and private universities are founded pursuant to:

  • a specific Act passed by the Legislative Assembly of the region where the institution will be located, or
  • an Act approved by the Spanish Parliament, at the proposal of the central government and in accordance with the relevant Autonomous Community Council.

A report from the General Conference for University Policy is also mandatory.

An update on the process for the creation, recognition, authorisation and accreditation of universities and university institutions was passed in May 2015 in order to simplify and rationalise the process established so far. This reform regulates the basic requirements for the creation and recognition of public and private universities and university institutions, as well as the procedure for their authorisation. For more information, see Reform of the requirements for the creation, recognition, authorisation and accreditation of universities and university institutions.

Public universities

They are integrated by University Schools, Faculties, Departments, University Institutes for Research, Doctoral Colleges and by other necessary schools or structures for the development of their functions.

The requirements for their establishment and maintenance are established by the Government, once a report by the General Conference for University Policy and the Council of Universities has been issued.

  • University Schools and Faculties

They are the institutions responsible for the organisation of their studies and in charge of academic, administrative and implementation processes of the regulations that lead to the conferment of the different university degrees.

Their creation, modification and abolishment, as for the implementation and abolishment of studies leading to the obtainment of an official university degree and valid nationwide is accorded with the Autonomous Community to which the university belongs either through the Autonomous Community's initiative gaining the agreement of the Government Council of the university, or through the university's own initiative through a proposal of the Government Council, in both cases with a previous favourable report on behalf of the Social Council.

  • Departments

They are teaching and research units in charge of coordinating studies of one or more fields of knowledge in one or more university centres according to the teaching schedule of the university. They support teaching and research activities and initiativesof the teaching staff as for exerting all other functions appearing in their statutes.

The establishment, modification and abolition of departments correspond to the university, according to its statutes.

  • University research institutes

Their activity focuses mainly on technical and scientific research and on artistic creation. These centres are also entitled to offer graduate programmes (Master's degrees or PhDs). University research institutes may belong to more than one university.

They can also be the established by public or private organisations by means of collaboration agreements or specific arrangements. Furthermore, universities can create joint research institutes, in cooperation with other public research bodies, with the National Health Service and with public or private non-profit research centres.

  • Integrated higher education areas

Their creation is promoted by universities and public authorities.

They develop new channels of collaboration between the production sector, universities, vocational training institutions and other dependent bodies, so as to encourage business and scientific innovation.  Therefore, an integrated higher vocational area consists of a university campus which incorporates vocational training centres offering higher vocational training, specialised in professional families which are related to the areas of specialisation of university colleges operating in the same campus.

  • Doctoral Colleges

Their main objective is to organise PhD programmes into one or more interdisciplinary knowledge branches, including official science-oriented Master programmes, as well as many other types of training activities in the area of research.

These colleges may be founded by one or more universities, with the possible participation of other bodies, centres, institutions or national and international entities which carry out R&D activities. 

  • Public or private associated centres

They offer official study programmes. 

The association is established by means of an agreement which requires to be endorsed by the relevant regional government, at the proposal of the University Government Council, once the proposal has been positively informed by the University Social Council.

They must be established within the territorial scope of the relevant regional government, or receive approval from the regional government where they are located.  

Private universities and university institutions

They may be created by any individual or legal entity, regarding that they respect the constitutional principles as they are subject to State and Autonomous regulations. University private centres must be integrated into a private university as centres belonging to the university or they must be ascribed to a public or private university. Private universities elaborate and approve their own regulations for their organisation and functioning. These must respect and guarantee, through a broad participation of the university community, the academic freedom manifested in the academic freedom, research and study.

In order to guarantee the quality of universities and university centres a series of requisites are established to which they must comply with whether they were already in existence or whether they were recently created. From these the Autonomous Communities establish the specific requirements for the universities to establish themselves in their territory. For more information, see Organisation of Private Education

Both public and private universities, together with university centres must be registered in the Register of Universities, Centres and Qualifications (RUCT).

In accordance with this Register, in November 2016, the Spanish university system is integrated by 85 universities, 50 of which are public and 35 private. Six universities (one public and five private) organise distance education. In addition, there are two universities with a special status, since they only provide specialised graduate programmes (Master's and PhD).

Non-university education

Higher Vocational Training may be offered in:

  • secondary education schools, which also organise Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO) provision and Bachillerato programmes
  • national reference centres
  • integrated vocational training centres.

For more information, see Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure.

Regardless of public or private ownership, these institutions are subject to the same minimum requirements. Among these:

  • the highlighted minimum requirements of the spaces established in the regulation of each qualification
  • the equipments established by the Educational Authorities in order to achieve the results of each vocational module.

For more information, see Organisation of Private Education.