Higher education in Spain
A decentralized model regarding authority over education is currently in place for Spanish Higher Education. It distributes authority over education between the State, the Autonomous Communities and the Universities.
Jurisdiction over higher education is designated almost totally to the universities, with isolated exceptions in certain military, artistic and music degree programmes that are given in non-university institutions.
The State however regulates the conditions for obtaining, issuing and recognising academic and professional degrees.
Types of institutions
Spanish universities may be either public or private, and they can be set up under either State or Autonomous law. There are at the moment 75 universities of which 50 are established on a public basis and 25 on a private basis.
Of the 75 public universities, 48 fall under the authority of the Autonomous Communities while 2 fall under the Ministry of Education and Science. Of the 25 private universities, 7 belong to the Catholic Church.
Institutions that offer programmes and degrees in accordance with a foreign educational system that is not officially recognised in Spain must be regulated by the Government, subject to a report by the Coordinating Council of Spanish Universities (article 86 of the Spanish Universities Act).
Types of programmes
Spanish higher education is currently adapting to the three cycle degree system of the European Higher Education Area. Therefore, two structures currently coexist in university education:
The new structure (in line with the European Higher Education Area)
In this structure, programmes are situated in one of the following thee cycles:
- Bachelor's programmes: basic degree programmes and/or general education-oriented;
- Master's programmes: specialized or multidisciplinary advanced training; academic or professional oriented; and
- Doctorate programmes: advanced training in research techniques).
The old structure (pre-European Higher Education Area)
There are still four types of programmes which will be adapted to the above-mentioned structure before 2010. These are:
- First cycle (short cycle) degree programmes: orientated towards professional qualifications and award either a Diploma or a General Degree, and, in Engineering and Architecture, an equivalent qualification (official duration of three years).
- First and second cycle degree programmes (long cycle): according to the type of studies, they have an official duration of either four or five years.
- Second cycle only degree programmes (generally two years), lead to the award of the equivalent of an Honours Degree, and, in Engineering and Architecture, an equivalent qualification, entry to which requires certain first cycle qualifications or a long cycle first degree.