If beautiful beaches and rich culture aren't enough to tempt you to make Spain your study abroad destination, its finely structured education system and low course fees might
While studying in Spain, you'll be able to brush up on the world's second most spoken language, as well as make lots of international connections - especially since this well-visited country often features in 'top study abroad destination' lists.
In this Mediterranean climate, you'll be able to enjoy siestas and tapas, explore metropolitan cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, and plan getaways to the wonderful mountain ranges, beaches and timeless villages that really epitomise old Spain. You can enjoy the delights of Spain's many museums, clubs, theatres, festivals and street fairs when taking a break from your studies.
There are two types of higher education institutions (or universidades) in Spain: public and private.
Of the 78 Spanish universities, 51 are state-funded, with 27 privately owned or run by the Catholic Church. Most of the 18 Spanish universities featuring in the QS World University Rankings 2015/16 are concentrated around Madrid and Barcelona.
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Students attending UK universities can take part in the European Union's (EU) study, work, volunteer, train and teach abroad programme Erasmus+. The scheme provides students with opportunities to study in Spain for between three months and one academic year, as part of their degree - although this will depend on your university having formal arrangements with a Spanish counterpart. Applications are usually made a year before you're looking to take part.
Financial support is available through Erasmus+ grants, which are provided by the European Commission (EC). These are designed to cover the additional costs that you may incur from studying abroad and in 2016/17 were set at between €280 and €330. Tuition fee contributions are also available to students studying abroad for a full academic year.
Degree courses in Spain
Competition for undergraduate places is high, as more students wish to study in Spain than there are spots available. European Union (EU) nationals are entitled to compete for places at Spanish universities on equal terms.
To successfully complete a Bachelors degree, students must earn a total of 240 ECTS credits over four years of study. This consists of basic training, obligatory and optional subjects, external and cultural placements and activities, and a final course dissertation.
As the country is a Bologna Process member, Spanish postgraduate degrees are based on the transferable European credit transfer and accumulation system (ECTS), with a Masters preparing students for academic, research or professional work. These qualifications are usually spread across one or two years.
Academic years are split into two semesters. Lectures for postgraduate courses usually begin in early October, with classes often continuing during the undergraduate exam period in January. The second semester typically starts in early February and concludes in June.
The duration of full-time Spanish Doctoral degree programmes is a maximum of three years, with part-time study taking five years. Most PhDs are split into two stages: advanced research training and a thesis.
As with Doctoral degrees in other European countries, your research will be supervised by at least one tutor who will provide mentoring and support.
Spanish course fees are among the lowest in Europe, with costs the same for EU students as they are for Spanish students. If you come from a non-EU country, your course fees will likely be marginally higher.
At public universities, enrolment fees for a Bachelors course are set by the government and can vary from €680 to €1,400 per academic year. Annual course costs at private universities are typically €5,500 to €18,000.
Similarly, fees for postgraduate degrees at both public and private universities are regulated by the government, with tuition fees calculated on a pay-per-credit format. The amount of credits is based on what course you study and which university you attend. For example, a Masters course will be worth 60 to 120 credits per year, with each credit costing between €22 and €36 each.
Students should expect to pay between €900 and €1,100 a month for living expenses, depending on location and accommodation type. Madrid and Barcelona are the most expensive cities.
Funding to study in Spain
Grants and scholarships are available to Spanish and EU students; however they are not as commonly available as in other European countries.
For a list of scholarships, visit the Spanish Service for the Internationalization of Education (SEPIE).
How to apply
Students wanting to study for a postgraduate degree in Spain should apply directly to the institution they wish to attend. When applying, you must be in possession of a Bachelors degree obtained in either Spain or a country in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). You can also hold a degree attained elsewhere but the university must be satisfied with the qualification before accepting an application.
If you're an EU student looking to study a Bachelors degree, you'll need to apply for the 'Credencial de Acceso', which is issued by Spain's official body Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED). Non-EU students without a European Baccalaureate (EB) or International Baccalaureate (IB) will need to register with UNED to take the entrance exam ('Prueba de Acceso a la Universidad' or PAU).
While there are a few postgraduate courses taught in English, it's useful to have some knowledge of the local language, whether that is Spanish or Catalan. Most universities provide language tuition, either through short courses or year-long programmes.
Students from the EU do not require a visa to study in Spain. However you should apply for an NIE (an identification number for foreigners) upon arrival in the country. The EX-15 document will come in extremely useful when opening a bank account, purchasing discount travel cards and accessing Spanish healthcare.
Those students coming to study in Spain from outside the EU must obtain a visa if they wish to stay longer than three months. You can apply for a visa at the Spanish Consulate in your country of origin.
This visa information is still valid following the UK's decision to leave the EU and will be updated if changes happen.
Comparison to UK qualifications
Existing undergraduate qualifications acquired in other European countries will usually be recognised and accepted by Spanish universities. Your Spanish Masters degree will also be internationally recognised, including by UK employers.