Spain, is a captivating Western European country with a rich history and diverse culture, that has become a sought-after destination for international students seeking quality higher education at a reasonable cost. Renowned for its outstanding climate, world-class universities, and breathtaking landscapes, Spain offers a unique blend of academic excellence and unforgettable experiences.
A large number of universities in Spain boast both a strong international reputation and high rankings. While the majority of these institutions primarily offer courses in Spanish, there is a growing trend towards providing more degree programs in English to accommodate international students.
Aspiring scholars can select from an array of study programs, ranging from Bachelors to Masters and Doctorates.
Spain might also be the place for you if you are thinking about getting a Business degree, as it is home to many great business schools, including three of Europe’s top 10: IESE Business School, IE Business School, and Esade Business School.
Below, we will explain everything you need to know about the accessibility and cost of going to university in Spain.
When it comes to university expenses, studying in Spain is often more affordable compared to many other European countries. Public universities, which are uniformly priced within each Autonomous Community, attract students with their reasonable tuition fees. On the other hand, private universities set their own fees, which tend to be higher than those at public institutions.
The cost of studying at a university in Spain is influenced by various factors, such as the type of institution (public or private), the chosen degree program, the number of credits per program, the university's location, and the student's nationality.
The tuition fees at both types of institutions are calculated based on the number of credits enrolled in each year of study, typically amounting to 60 credits.
However, the complexity arises from the fact that each subject within the university carries a different cost, as institutions are free to set their own tuition fees without any prescribed authorities. Additionally, the expenses vary across different regions in Spain, with some regions offering considerably cheaper options.
Public universities: According to data from the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport, the average annual tuition fees at public universities range from around 750 euros in Andalusia, Cantabria, and Galicia to approximately 2,000 euros in Madrid, Catalonia, and Castilla y León. As an example, studying medicine at a public university in Andalusia costs 750 euros per year, while in Catalonia, the cost is about three times higher at around 2,300 euros per year.
Private universities: on the other hand, generally charge around 9,500 euros per academic year for undergraduate studies, varying based on the chosen degree and institution. However, these costs generally do not exceed 20,000 euros per academic year. International students from the EU usually pay the same fees as national students, as do those with prior residency in Spain.
For non-EU students, the situation can be more diverse, as there are no fixed fees, and the costs depend on various factors as mentioned above. Reports from Studyportals, an international student website, indicate that non-EU citizens may be charged the same fees as EU citizens, or they could face higher tuition ranging from 1,000 euros to 1,500 euros or even two to three times higher. To obtain accurate information, it is best to directly contact the university of interest.
Despite the varying costs, Spain offers numerous grants and scholarships for students, many of which are accessible to international students as well as Spanish nationals. For information on available grants and scholarships, prospective students can reach out to their local Spanish consulate.
Accessing university in Spain
Foreign residents in Spain: If you are a foreigner who has residency in Spain and you are over the age of 18, you can access Spanish universities under the same conditions as Spaniards.
You are also able to apply for the same scholarships and grants as Spanish students.
If you attended high school in Spain, you will take the same test as Spaniards to enter university - the Bachillerato Assessment for University Access (EBAU or EvAU), also known as selectividad.
This is a compulsory test for Bachillerato students, which is Spain's equivalent to A-levels after the age of 16, who want to access university.
EU citizens: If you’re an EU citizen, in most cases you will have to get an accreditation issued by the UNEDassis service (University Application Service for International Students in Spain) in order to attend university here.
To do this, you must visit the website of the National Distance Education University (UNED) where you will have to submit your educational qualifications and transcripts. It opens in April each year. You will then receive your Credencial de Accesso (access credentials), which you will need to submit to your chosen university within 3 to 4 months.
Non-EU, non-resident citizens: Foreigners who are not from an EU country and don’t have residency in Spain are still able to go to Spanish universities, however, it is a little more complicated.
Firstly, you will need to go through the homologation process in order to get your qualifications recognised in Spain. This is carried out through the Spanish Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, except if the university you want to attend is in Catalonia, Galicia or the Basque Country, because in those cases you must request homologation in the region itself. You can contact your local Spanish consulate to help you navigate the process.
Once you have your qualifications recognised in Spain, by receiving the Accreditation (Volante de convalidación), you must pass the Bachillerato Assessment for University Access (EBAU) or the Specific Competence Tests (PCE).
In addition, once you have received your place at a Spanish university, you must also apply for a student visa in order to legally be able to live in Spain during your studies.
Recently, the Spanish government announced that it is preparing legislation that will mean non-EU university students will no longer have to renew their residence permit on a yearly basis, as well as allowing them to automatically stay in Spain for one or two years after graduating.
Student life in Spain
When considering student life in Spain, there are a large number of programs available in English, but brushing up on the local language beforehand can enhance your experience. Interacting with locals becomes more accessible, and you'll be equipped with the second-most spoken language globally.
Living as a student in Spain promises an extraordinary experience. The vibrant and diverse student community offers the opportunity to make numerous friends. Spanish students work diligently but also know how to enjoy life to the fullest. If you plan on going out at night, be prepared for late hours - most clubs don't open until after midnight, and your friends may want to party until dawn!
If you are unsure of where to study in Spain, please check out our article - 7 Cheapest Cities For International Students Living In Spain
Health insurance for students
Our Sanitas Students Plan is the ideal medical cover designed specifically for foreign students studying in Spain. This comprehensive plan fulfils all the necessary requirements for your visa application, should you need one to enter Spain.
The Students Plan operates on a network policy, granting you the freedom to choose doctors and hospitals from our vast network of healthcare providers. With everything taken care of, you won't need to handle claims or paperwork and won't have any out-of-pocket expenses when using our services. This way, you can fully focus on your studies and savour your time in Spain without any worries about medical coverage.
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