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Education System of Spain


Types of higher education institutions:

Universidad (University)

Facultad (Faculty)

Universidad Politécnica (Polytechnic University)

Colegio Universitario (University College)

Escuela Técnica Superior (Higher Technical School)

Escuela Técnica (Technical School)

Escuela Universitaria (University School)

Instituto Universitario (University Institute)

Centro de Estudios Superiores

School leaving and higher education credentials:

Título de Bachiller

Título de Técnico

Curso de Orientación Universitaria (COU)

Prueba de Acceso a la Universidad

Título de Técnico Superior


Título de Arquitecto Técnico

Título de Conservador y Restaurador de los Bienes Culturales

Título de Ingeniero Técnico

Título de Maestro

Título Superior de Arte Dramático

Título Superior de Danza

Título Superior de Diseño

Título Superior de Música


Título de Arquitecto

Título de Ingeniero




Pre-higher education:

Duration of compulsory education:

Age of entry: 6

Age of exit: 16

Structure of school system:


Type of school providing this education: Primary School

Length of program in years: 6

Age level from: 6 to: 12


Type of school providing this education: Institutos de Educación Secundaria, Colegios Privados y Colegios Concertados

Length of program in years: 4

Age level from: 12 to: 16

Certificate/diploma awarded: Graduado en Educación Secundaria Obligatoria

Higher Secondary

Type of school providing this education: Institutos de Educación Secundaria, Colegios Privados y Colegios Concertados

Length of program in years: 2

Age level from: 16 to: 18

Certificate/diploma awarded: Título de Bachillerato or Título de Técnico

School education:

Primary education lasts for six years. Following the 1990 reform, compulsory secondary education (ESO) lasts for four years (from 12 to 16) divided into two two-year cycles (from 12 to 14 and from 14 to 16). It leads to the Graduado en Educación Secundaria Obligatoria Certificate. This certificate is required for a) Bachillerato studies (16 to 18) and b) intermediate vocational training (Ciclos Formativos de Grado Medio). Bachillerato students who have completed all subjects successfully are awarded the Título de Bachillerato (before the 1990 reform, students also had to complete the Curso de Orientación Universitaria). To enter university, students must sit for an entrance examination (Prueba de Acceso a la Universidad). In intermediate vocational training (Ciclos Formativos de Grado medio) students who successfully complete their training are awarded the Certificado de Técnico in the relevant field. This certificate enables them to work in areas related to their training, to pursue further training, or to study for a Bachillerato.

Higher education:

Higher education is mainly provided by both public and private universities. Universities are divided into facultades universitarias, escuelas técnicas superiores, escuelas universitarias, institutos universitarios, and other centres, notably the Centros de Estudios Superiores and the Colegios Universitarios. The Consejo de Universidades (where the Ministry, the Comunidades Autónomas and the Universidades are represented) coordinates the activities of state and private institutions and proposes the main lines of educational policy. It also sets up guidelines for the creation of universities, centres and institutes. It can also propose measures concerning advanced postgraduate studies, the defining of qualifications to be officially recognized throughout the country and standards governing the creation of university departments. The legislation on university autonomy provides for administrative, academic and financial autonomy.A new law on Universities (Ley Orgánica de Universidades n 121/000045)) was voted on 20 December, 2001 and is being implemented.

Main laws/decrees governing higher education:

Decree: Ley Orgánica de Calidad de la Educación (LOCE) Year: 2002

Decree: Ley Orgánica de las Cualificaciones y de la Formación Profesional (LOCFP) Year: 2002

Decree: Ley Orgánica de Ordenación General del Sistema Educativo (LOGSE) Year: 1990

Concerns: All institutions

Decree: Ley Orgánica de Universidades (LOU) Year: 2001

Concerns: Universities

Decree: Ley Orgánica del Derecho a la Educación, no. 8 (LODE) Year: 1985

Decree: Real Decreto 86/1987 of 16 January (BOE of 23 January) and Ministerial Order of 9 February 1987 Year: 1987

Concerns: Regulations for the recognition of foreign higher education qualifications

Academic year:

Classes from: Oct to: Jul

Languages of instruction: Spanish, Basque, Galician, Catalan

Stages of studies:

Non-university level post-secondary studies (technical/vocational type):

Non-university level:

Centros de formación profesional especifica de Grado superior offer to holders of the Título de Bachillerato three-year full-time courses leading to Grado superior qualifications in areas such as Agriculture, Commerce and Administration.Higher education studies in Music, Dance and Drama lead to a Título Superior de Música, Danza, Drama which is equivalent to the Licenciado degree.Higher education courses on Preservation and Restoration of historical works of art and Design as well as Ciclos Formativos de Grado Superior in Plastic Arts and Design lead to qualifications that are equivalent to the Diplomado degree.

University level studies:

University level first stage: Primer ciclo:

The first cycle of university studies (short term courses), which is followed in Escuelas Técnicas Superiores, Escuelas Universitarias and Facultades lasts for three years and leads to the Diplomado, Ingeniero Técnico or Arquitecto Técnico degrees. These courses lead to long term courses.

University level second stage: Segundo ciclo:

The courses of study leading to Licenciado, Ingeniero and Arquitecto degrees consist in first cycle and second cycle studies (long term studies) but a degree is only awarded when the studies of both cycles have been completed successfully. The Ingeniero and Arquitecto degrees are awarded following an end-of-course project (proyecto fin de carrera). Medical studies last for 6 years but Odontology and Veterinary studies last for five years. These long term courses are followed at Facultades and Escuelas Técnicas Superiores. The former offer courses in Humanities and Science and the latter offer courses in Technology, Engineering and Architecture. There are also second cycle only studies that lead to the Licenciado or Ingeniero degrees.

University level third stage: Tercer ciclo, ciclo de especialización para la investigación y docencia:

The third stage is open to holders of Licenciado, Arquitecto or Ingeniero degrees and leads to the Doctor's degree (Título de Doctor) which is awarded after at least three years' further study and research, following the submission and defence of a thesis. Another postgraduate degree, although it is not officially recognized (Título propio de la Universidad) is the Master degree, awarded after 1 or 2 years of further study.

Teacher education:

Training of pre-primary and primary/basic school teachers

Primary-school teachers are trained in Escuelas universitarias de Formación de Profesorado. A three-year course leads to the Título de Maestro.

Training of secondary school teachers

In order to be able to teach in secondary schools, holders of Licenciado, Ingeniero or Arquitecto degrees must also hold the Certificado de Aptitud Pedagógica (CAP). This requirement does not apply to a) holders of Licenciado en Pedagogía degree or b) holders of Maestro degrees who also hold a Licenciado, Ingeniero or Arquitecto degree.

Training of higher education teachers

Higher education teachers are trained in Facultades universitarias or Escuelas técnicas superiores. They must hold Licenciado, Arquitecto or Ingeniero degrees. After two years of third-cycle study and the submission of a thesis, they are awarded a Doctor degree, which is the prerequisite for teaching in faculties and higher-technical schools. However, in Escuelas universitarias, only catedráticos (holders of a chair) must meet this requirement. The requirement for Profesores Titulares is a Licenciado, Ingeniero or Arquitecto degree.

Non-traditional studies:

Distance higher education

The Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) organizes distance learning courses in Law, History and Geography, Philology, Philosophy and Education, Psychology, Economics and Management, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, Political Sciences and Sociology, and Industrial Engineering. UNED also organizes courses giving direct access to university for adults over 25 who do not hold the required qualifications and distance courses for which no specific qualification is required. In 1992, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports created the Centre for Innovation and Development of Distance Education (CIDEAD). Other educational administrations, amongst which the education Departments for the Communities of Galicia, Navarre and Valencia, have established distance education for adults in their respective regions creating the relevant establishments for distance education. There is also the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

Lifelong higher education

Continuous vocational training is conceived as a number of training activities aiming at the personal, social and professional promotion of workers. The Instituto Nacional de Cualificaciones (INCUAL) is in charge of the setting up and management of the Sistema Nacional de Cualificaciones profesionales (SNCP) to facilitate the coordination of vocational training policies proposed by the Administración General del Estado, the Autonomous Communities and Social Agents.National agreements have been reached in order to promote continuous training. The Fundación Tripartita administers most of the funds on a nation-wide scale.Ministries, Autonomous Communities and different institutions in the public and private sectors also organize special courses outside the general education system for the personal and professional upgrading of their employees.

Higher education training in industry

Postgraduate professional courses are offered in universities and by private bodies and associations and lead to the award of a diploma.


Administration & co-ordination:

Responsible authorities:

Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia (Ministry of Education and Science)

Head: María Jesús San Segundo Gómez de Cadiñanos, Minister

C/ Alcalá, 34
28071 Madrid

Tel: +34(90) 221 8500

Fax: +34(91) 701 8648

WWW: http://www.mec.es

Conferencia de Rectores de las Universidades españolas (Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities)

Head: Juan Antonio Vázquez García, President

Administrative officer: María Teresa Lozano Mellado, Secretary-General

Plaza de las Cortes, 2-7 planta
28014 Madrid

Tel: +34(91) 360 1200

Fax: +34(91) 360 1201

EMail: sgcrue@adm.uned.es

WWW: http://www.crue.org

Fundación Agencia Nacional de Evaluación de la Calidad y Acreditación

Head: Francisco Marcellin Español, Director

Administrative officer: Eduardo Coba Arango, Coordinador General

C/Orense, 11
7 planta
28020 Madrid

Tel: +34(91) 417-8230

Fax: +34(91) 556-8642

EMail: informacion@aneca.es

WWW: http://www.aneca.es


Admission to non university higher education studies

Name of secondary school credential required: Título de Bachiller

Admission to university-level studies

Name of secondary school credential required: Título de Bachiller

For entry to: Facultades, Colegios Universitarios, Escuelas Superiores Técnicas, Escuelas Universitarias, Centros de Estudios Superiores

Alternatives to credentials: Over 25 Aptitude test organized by Universities, Bachillerato (or former Curso de Orientación Universitaria) and a specific aptitude test for artistic studies. Título de Técnico Especialista (or Técnico Superior) for direct access to specific university studies related to previous studies.

Entrance exams required: Students must sit for the Prueba de Accesso a la Universidad

Foreign students admission

Admission requirements: Students must have completed their secondary education studies and have them recognized by the Spanish Ministry of Education. They must also sit for the Prueba de Aptitud de Acceso a la Universidad.

Entry regulations: Foreign students must have a residence permit and financial guarantees.

Health requirements: Health visa

Language requirements: Students from non-Spanish speaking countries must sit for an examination. Universities organize language courses.

Application procedures:

Application closing dates:

For non-university level (technical/vocational type) studies: 1 Jul

For university level studies: 1 Jul

For advanced/doctoral studies: 1 Jul

Recognition of studies & qualifications:

Studies pursued in home country (System of recognition/accreditation): The Agencia Nacional de Evaluación de la Calidad y Acreditación is responsible for the evaluation of degrees (www.aneca.es).

Studies pursued in foreign countries (bodies dealing with recognition of foreign credentials):

NARIC España, Subdirección General de Títulos, Convalidaciones y Homologaciones, Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia

Head: Álvaro Martínez-Cachero, National Coordinator

Administrative officer: Nieves Trelles, Asesora Técnica

Paseo del Prado, 28
28014 Madrid

Tel: +34(91) 506 5593

Fax: +34(91) 506 5706

EMail: nieves.trelles@educ.mec.es

WWW: http://www.mec.es

Deals with credential recognition for entry to: University and Profession

Services provided & students dealt with: Provides information to foreigners wishing to follow studies in Spain who apply for the recognition of their diplomas or partial studies obtained or pursued abroad.

Other information sources on recognition of foreign studies: Universities' governing bodies have full authority to recognize both the courses taken in foreign institutions which have not led to a standard qualification and the courses which have led to standard qualifications but whose recognition has been refused by the Ministry of Education.

Special provisions for recognition:

For access to university level studies: Foreign higher education qualifications awarded by authorized higher education institutions (where the courses leading to the awards have been taken), once they have been recognized, have the same academic and professional equivalence as the corresponding Spanish official higher education qualifications. The recognition of foreign qualifications can only be applied to qualifications included in the catalogue of official university qualifications.The Universities Council plays a major role in the recognition process. The contents and duration of courses leading to the respective qualifications submitted for recognition and their equivalence with the educational content of Spanish and EU qualifications are evaluated by sub-committees of experts on different areas of knowledge.

Multilateral agreements concerning recognition of foreign studies

Name of agreement: Convention On the Recognition of Studies, Diplomas and Degrees in Higher Education in Europe

Year of signature: 1979

References to further information on foreign student admissions and recognition of studies

Title: Cursos para extranjeros en España

Publisher: Secretaría de Estado de Universidades e Investigación

Title: Estudios en España: II. Nivel universitario

Author: Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia. Secretaría General Técnica

Publisher: Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia

Title: Guía básica sobre régimen académica y acceso para alumnos con estudios en el extranjero

Publisher: Universidad Complutense de Madrid - Vice-Rectorado de Alumnos

Title: Guía de las Enseñanzas universitarias

Publisher: Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, Consejo de Universidades

Title: Homologación y Convalidación de Títulos y Estudios Extranjeros

Publisher: Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte. Secretaría General Técnica

Title: Las Enseñanzas universitarias en España y en la Comunidad Económica Europea

Author: Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia

Publisher: Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia


Health/social provisions

Social security for home students: Yes

Social security for foreign students: Yes

Special student travel fares:

By road: Yes

By rail: Yes

By air: Yes

Available to foreign students: Yes

Student expenses and financial aid

Student costs:

Home students tuition fees: Maximum: 4000 (Euro)

Bodies providing information on student financial aid:

Ministry of Education and Science

Dirección de Becas, Ayudas y subvenciones
C/ Alcalá, 36
28071 Madrid

Tel: +34(90) 221 8500

WWW: http://www.mec.es/mecd/jsp/plantilla.jsp?area=becas&id=4

Deals with: Grants

Category of students: Students with Spanish citizenship or with legal residence in Spain.

Publications on student services and financial aid:

Title: Convocatoría general de Becas para Realizar Estudios en España

Publisher: Agencia española de Cooperación internacional (AECI), Madrid

Title: Study Abroad 2004-2005, 32nd Edition

Author: UNESCO

Publisher: UNESCO Publishing

Year of publication: 2003


Principal national bodies responsible for dealing with international cooperation and exchanges in higher education:

Ministry of Education and Science

Subsecretaría - Secretaría general técnica - Subdirección general de Cooperación internacional
Paseo del Prado, 28 - 2ª Planta.
28071 Madrid

Tel: +34 (91) 506 5600

Fax: +34 (91) 506 5704

EMail: sgci.informacion@educ.mec.es

WWW: http://www.mec.es/educa/internacional/index.html


Usual grading system in secondary school

Full Description: 0-10: 10 sobresaliente (matricula de honor); 8.5-9 sobresaliente; 7-8.4 notable; 6-6.9 bien; 5-6 suficiente; below 5 Insuficiente.

Highest on scale: 10

Lowest on scale: 0

Main grading system used by higher education institutions

Full Description: 10: matrícula de honor; 9-9.9: sobresaliente; 7-8.9: notable; 5-6.9: aprobado; below 5: suspenso

Highest on scale: 10 matrícula de honor

Pass/fail level: 5 aprobado

Lowest on scale: 4-0 suspenso

Other main grading systems

For theses: no apto; aprobado; notable; sobresaliente; 'cum laude'


Data for academic year: 2004-2005

Source: Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, Secretaria de Estado de Educación y Universidades, Consejo de Coordinación Universitaria, Madrid (Spain), 2005

Note on Higher Education Institutions: Also Universidad Internacional Menendez Pelayo with branches in Barcelona, Cuenca, Seville, Tenerife, Valencia, Pontevedra and Formigal (Huesca). (www.uimp.es).

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