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Studying In Spain – A Guide For International Students Expat Tips

Why Study in Spain?

Spain is a country that is rich in history and culture, and one that has a visible presence on the world's stage. Studying in Spain will prove enlightening for anybody seeking international study. With over 70 universities in the country, there are plenty of learning opportunities, within a well-organised educational system. You'll have plenty of chances to master the language too, and as the second most common language in the world, this will open your career opportunities immeasurably.

While you may choose to study in one of the major cities such as Barcelona or Madrid, it is worth considering other areas of Spain too. The country is full of galleries and museums and places of interest. There is much that is beautiful in Spain, with rich countryside and marvellous coastlines with bars, cafes and restaurants. Wherever you're a student, you'll have plenty of opportunity to travel and see the sights. The country is laid back and peaceful, and the Spanish are friendly and hospitable, so you're sure of a warm welcome.

One thing to bear in mind is that most universities in Spain teach in Spanish, so it is advisable that you are able to speak, read, write and understand the Spanish language before you choose to enrol on your course. Of course you may choose to enrol on a Spanish language course in Spain before you start your studies, and learn the language in situ, preparing you for the road ahead. The main Spanish test accepted for University is the DELE test (Diploma de Español Como Lengua Extranjera). You can find out more about the DELE diploma at http://www.dele.org

Applying For A University Place

When considering applying for a University place, it is best to do so well in advance of the start date of the course as you will need to complete paperwork. You will need the following:

  • To pass the Selectividad exam
  • A student visa (If a non-EU student)
  • Residence permit/card

The Selectividad exam is a test that assesses the candidate's knowledge and skills, acquired at school, and how well suited he or she is for a higher course of study. There are two stages: the first obligatory stage tests language skills (including expression and analysis) and the second stage tests speciality and expertise. It improves the grades, scored during the first obligatory stage. Where foreign students are concerned, universities may now decide whether students are required to take the Selectividad exam or not.

Will I Need a Student Visa?

Applying for a student visa (a Visado de Estudios) is a relatively easy process. Many nationalities may stay in Spain for up to 90 days without a visa, including those from the USA and Australia. EU citizens never need a visa no matter how long they stay.

If you are from a non EU country and need to stay in Spain for longer than 90 days you will need to apply for a student visa from your own country. You should contact the nearest Spanish consulate to where you live for information about how to apply for a student visa. Leave plenty of time. The process can take between one week to several months, therefore it is imperative to start the application process as soon as you can.

The documentation needed for a student visa should be presented in person at your nearest Spanish consulate. This will usually include a letter of confirmation from your University in Spain, stating which course you are enrolling on, how many hours you will study and for how long.

You may well be asked for proof of your accommodation and who will be financing this. You can obtain a letter of residency or census registration (empadronamiento) from the town hall (Ayuntamiento) local to your accommodation if you present them with your passport, rental contract or a utility bill. In order to obtain a Spanish student residence permit/card, when you are remaining in Spain for six months or more, you must apply for it within 30 days of entering Spain. You apply for this at your local Foreigners Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) at your nearest police station, and the card will be valid for a year and renewable for five years - as long as you studying.

At the consulate, you will be asked to fill out a number of forms and will require at least three passport sized photos, so bring these, along with a valid passport, a certificate of student medical insurance valid for your stay in Spain. You may well have to provide a medical certificate confirming that you don't have any diseases that would require you to be quarantined. In addition you may be asked to show proof that you can maintain yourself financially while in Spain (such as a bank balance, or details of a scholarship, award or grant).

You must not arrive in Spain on a short-stay tourist visa and then apply for a student visa. The student visa must be applied for in your home country.

A word of warning. If you are a non-EU/EEA student and are studying for up to six months you may be required to obtain a student visa. However, if it is stamped '180 days total studies', you won't be able to get a residence card - a tarjeta de identidad de extranjero (TIE) - also known as a Foreigner Identity Card, and you will not be permitted to work in Spain.

If you are a non-EU/EEA student and are studying for over six months you will need to get a student visa (type D) and a student's residence permit card or Foreigner Identity Card (TIE) within 30 days of your arrival in Spain.

Applying for a Spanish Student Residence Permit

When you choose to study for three months or more you will be required to obtain the TIE. This can be obtained from the foreigners department (Oficina de Extranjeros) at a local police station once you're in Spain.

You will need a valid passport or travel ID, along with colour passport photos and a completed application form. Take proof of your address, bank statements, medical insurance, and proof of university enrolment.

All foreigners, including those from the EU/EEA and Swiss nationals, must have a Foreigner's Identity Number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) or NIE. This will allow you to make financial transactions in Spain, such as opening a bank account, working and paying taxes, and obtaining a driving licence. EU citizens will be issued with an NIE when they apply for their registration certificate; everyone else can apply after they have their residence permit, from the Foreigner's Office.

You can download both NIE and TIE application forms at the the following web address

http://www.interior.gob.es/web/servicios-al-ciudadano/modelos-de-solicitud/extranjeria

Working in Spain While Studying

Once you have the Spanish residence permit, you will be entitled to work either part-time or in a temporary position, so long as you're not using the money you earn to support yourself while you're in Spain. You will be allowed to work up to 20 hours a week while studying, as long as this will not interfere with your studies. The company you work for will be required to apply for a work permit for you from the Foreigner's Office. Your employment contract cannot exceed the duration of your study visa.

Finding Student Accommodation in Spain

In order to take up your position at University, and apply for a student visa, you will need to have arranged your accommodation before you arrive in Spain. There are a number of housing options available for students, depending on where you are attending University and how much you want to pay.

You may choose to stay with a host family, which gives you a close-up of life in Spain, or you may opt for dorm housing and stay on campus, which means you're close to where you need to be, but may have limitations for learning more about the country and its people. Studio apartments and flats are costly but provide you with the facilities you may be used to, but you can bring the prices down by sharing with a roommate. The average rental rate for a one bedroom apartment in Barcelona is around €850 per month, and you'll pay more like €1000 per month in Madrid. Bear in mind that you will have to find money for bills on top of this.

Spanish University Tuition Fees

Compared to many other countries in Europe, Spanish University fees are quite low, often less than €1,000 per year. The fees at public universities are set by education bodies at a regional level, in accordance with the Spanish General Assembly for University Policy. This means that fees have a minimum and a maximum tier according to each region in Spain. Credits for Bachelor's degree courses range from 12.50 to 30 EUR/credit, while for Master's and PhD level, these are between 15 and 55 EUR/credit

Private universities can set their own tuition prices and are therefore more expensive. Masters' degrees cost anywhere between €7,000 to €18,000 per year. An MBA can cost up to €60,000.

You may well be able to access funding or scholarships to enable you to study in Spain, as these opportunities have increased recently. It is worth checking out each University's website to see what is available.

Medical Insurance for Students

Here at HealthPlan we also offer a health insurance policy specifically for students and at a very reasonable price. For more information please visit our policy page at http://www.healthplanspain.com/sanitas/sanitas-health-plans/healthplan-students.html