EuroEducation.Net
   The European Education Directory



Search 900+ Universities for Bachelor, Master, Diploma & Professional Courses

Match term in Index:


Use the SEARCH above or browse by country and program of study




Arts & Humanities


Business & Economics


Engineering & Technology


MBA & Management


Science





Spain Higher Education System

Structure of the Higher Educational System in Spain
Admissions to Higher Education in Spain
Types of Higher Education Institutions in Spain
Cycles of Higher Education in Spain
 


Types of Higher Education Institutions


In Spain, higher education institutions are classified according to whether they organise university or non-university provision. The later are further subdivided into centres which offer advanced vocational training cycles and specialised education institutions.

University education

This type of provision is organized by universities, which may be public or private.

Public universities and private universities are founded pursuant to a specific act passed by the Legislative Assembly of the region where the institution will be located, or an act approved by the Spanish Parliament, at the proposal of the central government and in accordance with the relevant Autonomous Community Council. A report from the General Conference for University Policy is also mandatory.

Public universities are integrated by University Schools, Faculties, Departments, University Institutes for Research, Doctoral Colleges and by other necessary schools or structures for the development of their functions. The requirements for the establishment and the maintenance of these institutions are established by the Government, once a report by the General Conference for University Policy and the Council of Universities has been issued.

University Schoolsand Facultiesare the institutions responsible for the organisation of their studies and in charge of academic, administrative and implementation processes of the regulations that lead to the conferment of the different university degrees. Their creation, modification and abolishment, as for the implementation and abolishment of studies leading to the obtainment of an official university degree and validated nationwide must be accorded with the Autonomous Community to which the university belongs either through the Autonomous Community's initiative gaining the agreement of the Government Council of the university, or through the university's own initiative through a proposal of the Government Council, in both cases with a previous favourable report on behalf of the Social Council.

Departments are teaching and research units in charge of coordinating studies of one or more fields of knowledge in one or more university centres according to the teaching schedule of the university. They support teaching and research activities and initiativesof the teaching staff as for exerting all other functions appearing in their statutes. The establishment, modification and abolition of departments correspond to the university, according to its statutes.

Universities may also have university research institutes. Their activity focuses mainly on technical and scientific research and on artistic creation. These centres are also entitled to offer graduate programmes (Master's degrees or PhDs). University research institutes may belong to more than one university. They can also be the established by public or private organisations by means of collaboration agreements or specific arrangements. Furthermore, universities can create joint research institutes, in cooperation with other public research bodies, with the National Health Service and with public or private non-profit research centres.

Furthermore, universities and public authorities promote the creation of integrated higher education areas, which develop new channels of collaboration between the production sector, universities, vocational training institutions and other dependent bodies, so as to encourage business and scientific innovation. Therefore, an integrated higher vocational area consists of a university campus which incorporates vocational training centres offering higher vocational training, specialised in professional families which are related to the areas of specialisation of university colleges operating in the same campus.

The official regulations which establish the structure of PhD programmes also authorize the creation of Doctoral Colleges, the objective of which is to organise provision at this level into one or more interdisciplinary knowledge branches, which may also include official science-oriented Master programmes, as well as many other types of training activities in the area of research. These colleges may be founded by one or more universities, with the possible participation of other bodies, centres, institutions or national and international entities which carry out R&D activities.

Public universities may also have public or private associated centres offering official study programmes. The association is established by means of an agreement which requires to be endorsed by the relevant regional government, at the proposal of the University Government Council, once the proposal has been positively informed by the University Social Council. Associated centres must be established within the territorial scope of the relevant regional government, or receive approval from the regional government where they are located.

Private universities and university private centres may be created by any individual or legal entity, regarding that they respect the constitutional principles as they are subject to State and Autonomous regulations. University private centres must be integrated into a private university as centres belonging to the university or they must be ascribed to a public or private university.

Private universities elaborate and approve their own regulations for their organisation and functioning. These must respect and guarantee, through a broad participation of the university community, the academic freedom manifested in the academic freedom, research and study.

In order to guarantee the quality of universities and university centres a series of requisites are established to which they must comply with whether they were already in existence or whether they were recently created. From these the Autonomous Communities establish the specific requirements for the universities to establish themselves in their territory. For detailed information on the minimum requirements of university centres see the article on Organisation of Private Education.

Both public and private universities, together with university centres must be registered in the Register of Universities, Centres and Qualifications (RUCT).

In 2013/14, the Spanish university system was integrated by 82 universities, 50 of which were public and 32 private. Six universities (one public and five private) organise distance education. In addition, there are two universities with a special status, since they only provide specialised graduate programmes (Master's degrees and PhDs).

Higher non-university education

Higher Vocational Training may be offered in different types of institutions, namely, in secondary education schools, which also organise Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO) provision and Bachillerato programmes, in national reference centres and in integrated vocational training centres. For detailed information on these centres see the article on Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure.

Regardless of public or private ownership, these institutions are subject to the same minimum requirements. Among these, the highlighted minimum requirements of the spaces established in the regulation of each qualification and the equipments established by the Educational Authorities in order to achieve the results of each vocational module.


First Cycle Programmes


The Act on Education 2006 (LOE) includes the two first-cycle programmes within the Spanish education system as part of higher education, even though they lead to rather different professional and academic qualifications. These two programmes are Bachelor's degrees and Advanced Vocational Training. They are not equivalent, they are offered in different institutions and they lead to qualifications included in different levels of the Spanish Qualification Framework for Higher Education (MECES):

Bachelor programmes belong to university education, have an academic orientation and are longer than non-university higher provision. They lead to a Bachelor’s degree assigned to level 2 qualifications within the MECES and is defined by the following descriptors, in terms of educational outcomes:

• To have acquired advanced knowledge and proven comprehension of practical, theoretical and methodological aspects of the relevant field of studies, including understanding of the most recent and state-of-the-art breakthroughs in the area.

• To be able to apply knowledge, by means of elaborated procedures and defence of arguments, comprehension and problem-solving abilities, to the solution of problems in complex working or professional specialized environments, which may also require the use of creative and innovative ideas.

• To be able to gather and interpret information and data in order to support conclusions, including, whenever necessary and appropriate, a reflection upon social, scientific or ethical issues related to their area of specialization.

• To be able to handle complex situations or those requiring to devise new solutions, both in the academic and professional world, within the relevant knowledge area.

• To be able to address all kinds of audiences (either specialised or not) and to communicate in a clear and accurate way knowledge, methodologies, ideas, problems and solutions related to the area of specialization.

• To be able to identify professional development needs within the area of studies and professional or working environment, and to organise learning paths autonomously, both in structured and non-structured contexts.

However, the Spanish Qualifications Framework for Higher Education and the organisation of official university education, in order to include some Bachelor degrees in Level 3 (Master’s) of the Framework, were modified in February 2014. The duration of some studies, generally in the field of Health, is longer than that established for Bachelor programmes and they provide access to PhD programmes, either directly or through complementary training.

Advanced Vocational Training belongs to the stage of post-compulsory non-university education and has a clear professional orientation. These programmes lead to a diploma of Higher Technician, included level 1 of the qualification framework (MECES). Advanced Vocational Training qualifications may be defined by the following descriptors, in terms of educational outcomes:

• To apply and assimilate technical knowledge in order to define and develop work procedures autonomously in the relevant professional field. To be able to coordinate and supervise specialised technical work.

• To be able to analyse the necessary information to evaluate and handle expected and unexpected situations, looking for essential, creative and innovative solutions, within the relevant professional area.

• To be able to inform peers, supervisors, clients and subordinates, of knowledge, ideas, skills and operational procedures. • To have acquired the necessary skills to engage in further education autonomously, showing maturity to innovate in the application of these skills and to progress to higher training levels.

Bachelor

Branches of study

Bachelor's degrees have a minimum duration of 240 credits of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), and are ascribed to one of the following branches of knowledge:

• Arts and Humanities.

• Experimental Sciences.

• Health Sciences.

• Social Sciences and Law.

• Engineering and Architecture.

Admission requirements

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (MECD) regulates the access to university studies. It establishes the general conditions at a national level and at a regional level through the corresponding Educational Authorities, which in turn, are in charge of adapting and developing these rules within the scope of their competences.

University access is guaranteed through the observance of the fundamental rights. Furthermore, admission to university is granted on the basis of equality, merit and ability. In addition, universal accessibility and design are also taken into consideration. The body in charge of ensuring that students access official Bachelor programmes is the General Conference for University Policy. This body is general, objective and universal, equally valid for all Spanish universities and complies with the criteria established by the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).

Access to university education depends on the academic situation of candidates:

1. They may have access to official Bachelor programmes provided they have successfully completed general upper secondary education: • Students holding a Bachillerato certificate who have passed the university entrance examination organised by the education authorities and public universities.

• Students coming from the education systems of the Member States of the European Union (EU), or from other States that have signed international agreements with Spain that are applicable in this regard, on a basis of reciprocity. In this case, they have to meet the requirements established in those countries for students to have access to their universities, under the same conditions as students who have passed the university entrance examination.

2. From this academic year 2014/15, they may have access if they meet the criteria set by universities in their procedures for admission to official Bachelor programmes. Universities establish these procedures, which must include one or several of the following criteria: final grade obtained in the studies completed or in specific modules/subjects; relationship between the curricula of the studies completed and the relevant university degree; additional academic or vocational training and previously taken higher education studies.

These criteria apply to:

• Students coming from the EU who do not meet the requirements in order to have access to the universities in their countries, or from States that are not members of the EU and that have not concluded international agreements for the recognition of the Bachillerato certificate, on a basis of reciprocity.

• Students holding an Advanced Technician certificate in any specialisation of advanced vocational training, Plastic Arts and Design or equivalent qualifications.

However, there are other academic situations where universities are free to decide whether they apply or not an admission procedure for candidates to have access to these university studies:

• Students holding an official first or second-cycle university degree, corresponding to the EHEA or the previous organisation of university education, or equivalent degree.

• Students with partial studies carried out in Spain or abroad, or students whose degree has not been recognised in Spain but who want to continue studying in a Spanish university. In this case, apart from the criteria the relevant university might establish, students will have to be recognised at least 30 ECTS credits by this university.

• Students who were in a position to have access to university according to the organisation of the Spanish education system prior to the 2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education.

• Students with studies other than those equivalent to the Bachillerato or Advanced Technician certificates, obtained or carried out in a Member State of the EU or in other States that have signed international agreements that are applicable in this regard, on a basis of reciprocity, provided they meet the academic requirements established in that Member State for students to have access to its universities.

3.They may have access if they have passed the relevant specific university entrance examination:

• People aged over 25 who do not hold any qualification to gain access to university education by other means.

• People aged over 40 without a qualification providing access to university education who accredit work or professional experience.

• People aged over 45 without an academic qualification providing access to university education, through an adapted entrance examination.

In those cases in which there is a compulsory entrance examination, each university decides on the location and dates for the sessions, as well as on the registration dates for students and the date when the examination will be held. Universities may exceptionally establish specific knowledge and/or skill evaluations regardless of the original qualification.

Curriculum

Universities enjoy the autonomy to design the curriculum for the programmes and degrees they offer. However, the programmes must be verified by the Council of Universities and receive authorisation from the relevant regional government, once they have been submitted to consultation of the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA) and/or the analogous Agency of the corresponding Autonomous Community. Once the studies have been verified and accredited, the studies must be registered in the Registry of Universities, Centres and Degrees (RUCT) as mandatory requisite to obtain the official validity throughout Spain.

The guidelines to be followed by each university in the design of their study programmes are:

• Each programme must have a workload of at least 60 ECTS credits devoted to basic training, 36 of which have to be linked to some of the areas included in the knowledge branch to which the programme belongs. These areas are further specified into subjects, with a minimum of 6 ECTS credits each, which need to be taken during the first half of the programme.

• The remaining credits to complete the 60 compulsory ones are devoted to basic training and must be earned through basic subjects from the same branch or knowledge or from a different one, or through other areas, provided that they are basic for the initial training of the student or they have a cross-curricular nature.

• In the final stage of the programme students must do Bachelor's project, which receives between 6 and 60 ECTS credits. The aim of this project is to assess the acquisition of competences associated to the degree.

• Students may receive accreditation of ECTS credits (up to 6) for their participation in a series of activities at university, related to the area of culture, sports, students’ representation, solidarity and cooperation.

In those universities located in regions which have a co-official language, the regional language is the one normally used in university activities, in compliance with the regulations for university education established by each regional government.

Teaching methods

Universities follow the principle of autonomy to decide on methodology. To be more precise, university departments are the basic bodies in charge of both teaching and research of their respective areas of knowledge. They are responsible for the planning and coordination of the curriculum and of research activity at universities. In practice, teachers are free to make use of the teaching methods and pedagogical resources they consider more appropriate.

In general, teachers employ different teaching methods at university, being lectures the most common practice, although it is becoming more and more common to resort to other types of activities, such as seminars, cooperative work, learning based on problem-solving activities, project-based learning, etc. Practical classes (for example, laboratory or computer practices) are very frequent in experimental science studies.

The use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the classroom is quite frequent. Most universities have technology support services for teachers, so as to help them devise multimedia materials and to encourage their use of ICTs. Presentations by means of computers or overhead projectors are also common practice, as well as the use of videos, computer-assisted learning, etc. In addition, teacher/student communication through the Internet or through virtual classrooms, online platforms, virtual spaces for specific subjects, websites, and so on.

Progression of students

Universities, making use of the autonomy granted to them by legislation, establish the conditions for the promotion of the students, as well as the minimum and maximum periods of permanence of students.

In order to pass a subject, students are allowed to sit examinations for a limited number of times. Students have between four and six attempts depending of the programme or institution. Moreover, they are allowed to take final examinations for the same subject only twice a year.

Employability

A main concern for both the Education Authorities and universities is improving the employability of their university graduates. In order to deal with this problem, university education must respond to the following principles:

• To include in their study programmes abilities and skills geared towards innovation, the fostering of creativity, business initiative and entrepreneurship, incorporating them into the different subjects, concepts and cross-curricular competences, in learning methods and in assessment.

• To make proposals for new degrees and educational provision which prepare students for the qualifications required by new employment needs so as to improve employability of citizens in the labour market.

• To promote adaptability to social and economic changes, providing citizens with opportunities for ongoing professional development and extension of university studies; and to increase the possibilities for mobility in education within Spain and in Europe, as well as the effective incorporation of university graduates into the labour market, strengthening the links between universities and the business world, paying special attention to the promotion of competences for entrepreneurship and self-employment.

Collaboration between universities and the productive sector may be articulated on the basis of the following initiatives:

• Creation of technology-based innovation companies.

• Establishment of innovation poles, by means of providing a common physical space for universities and companies in the production sector. • Launching and promotion of programmes to enhance transfer and appreciation of knowledge.

• Creation of consortiums for research and transfer of knowledge.

• Creation of corporate-sponsored university chairs, based on collaboration in research projects, which allow university students to participate and combine their research activity with training opportunities.

In addition, both in the regulations for university education and in the 2010 University Student Statute, there are a series of specific measures aimed at promoting employability of university students, such as:

• Universities offer student mobility programmes through university cooperation agreements. These programmes pay attention to academic training related to the degree in which the student is enrolled, and to other competence areas, such as training for employment. For detailed information on the types of mobility programmes available for university students see the article on Mobility in Higher Education.

• Universities have student information and guidance services available, the aim of which is to provide information and orientation regarding learning itineraries and future professional opportunities, training in cross-curricular competences and design of professional projects, in order to facilitate student employability and insertion in the labour market.

• Universities also offer student guidance and monitoring until they graduate. The law also considers the possibility of degree advisors. These are coordinators or student advisors who provide guidance to students throughout the program, regarding their learning process as well as their professional prospects in the labour market.

• The statute also contemplates the possibility of creating alumni associations for former students. These associations must be registered at universities, and one of their goals is to collaborate actively in providing access to the labour market to university graduates.

For detailed information on the organisation and advisement of university students on the basic structure of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (MECD) see the article on Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education.

Student assessment

Universities must verify the knowledge acquired by students, as well as the development of their intellectual training and their academic achievements. In order to do so, it is necessary to establish assessment regulations. Evaluation objectives, tools, procedures, activities and criteria are set up in the syllabi of each programme, and fall under the responsibility of university departments and teachers.

One of the results of the adaptation to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) is the implementation of an assessment system for university education, the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). The European credit is the unit for academic accreditation, it represents the amount of work that a student must complete in order to attain programme objectives. Each ECTS credit represents between 25 and 30 class hours. In order to obtain the number of ECTS credits assigned to a subject, both in practical or theoretical learning or in any other academic activity, students must pass the exams or assessment procedures established for that area.

The results obtained by students in each subject, which appear in the student’s record, receive a numerical mark from 0 to 10, with a decimal position, which can be followed by a qualitative mark:

• 0 - 4.9: Fail

• 5.0 – 6.9: Pass

• 7.0 – 8.9: Very good

• 9.0 – 10: Excellent

Students may also be awarded an Excellent mark “with Distinction”, when the student has been given a 9.0 or higher. However, the number of students receiving this special mention cannot be higher than 5% of the total enrolled in a subject in an academic year. If this number is lower than 20, only one Excellent with Distinction may be awarded.

Certification

On completion of a Bachelor's degree programme, students receive a Bachelor’s degree in the relevant area of specialisation. The diploma bears the specific name given to the degree in the Registry of Universities, Centres and Degrees (RUCT). The diploma is issued, on behalf of the King o Spain, by the University Vice-Chancellor. It has official validity in all Spanish universities, and qualifies for regulated professional activities, under the conditions established in the relevant official documents.

According with 2010 official regulations for university education, certified professional or working experience may also receive recognition in terms of credits, with validity to obtain an official qualification, as long as the experience is related to the competences inherent to the qualification.

As a result of the process of adaptation to the EHEA, a new procedure has been established, by means of which universities may issue the European Diploma Supplement of official university degrees, upon request of the person concerned, in order to provide information about the level and contents of the programme for which the diploma is issued including information on the external work placement. The aim of the EDS is to guarantee, for mobility purposes, transparency and legibility of knowledge and skills acquired.

The MECD has regulated the recognition of studies among the different courses of study that constitute Higher Education, establishing the relations between the different Higher Education diplomas, as for the validation of ECTS credits, including Bachelor degrees and Higher Technician from Advanced Vocational Training. Universities are responsible for the recognition of official studies accrediting Higher Technician of Advanced Vocational Training, with the effects of allowing students into study programmes leading to the university Bachelor's degrees.


Short-Cycle Higher Education


Branches of study

Advanced Vocational Training is the last stage of formal vocational education. These programmes lead to specific professional accredited qualifications within the National Catalogue of Vocational Qualifications. For detailed information on the National Catalogue of Vocational Qualifications see the article on Lifelong Learning Strategy.

Advanced Vocational Training is structured in a series of training cycles, organised into vocational modules and classified according to a number of professional families established in the Catalogue:

• Administration and Management

• Arts and Crafts

• Building

• Chemistry

• Commerce and Marketing

• Computer and Communication

• Electricity and Electronics

• Energy and Water

• Extractive Industries

• Farming

• Food Industry

• Glass and Ceramics

• Graphic Arts

• Health

• Hotel and Tourism Industry

• Imaging and Sound

• Installation and Maintenance

• Maritime and Fishery

• Mechanical Production

• Personal Image

• Safety Environment

• Socio-cultural and Community Services

• Textiles, Clothing and Leather/Fur

• Transport and Maintenance of Vehicles

• Physical and Sport Activities

• Wood, Furniture and Cork

Admission requirements

Access to Advanced Vocational Training is quite flexible, so as to offer a variety of learning paths which can be easily adapted to student needs and interests, as well as to facilitate transfer between education and labour. In addition, in order to increase workers’ possibilities to improve their qualifications, a new procedure has been established for the evaluation and accreditation of professional competences acquired by means of working experience or through non-formal education. This accreditation allows beneficiaries to fulfil admission criteria for other types of provision or to receive recognition for specific subjects or components within a programme. The components which may be accredited are, for example, any of the vocational modules in which Higher Vocational Training qualifications are structured, thus improving the opportunities of applicants to obtain a Higher Technician diploma. For detailed information on the procedure for the recognition of professional competences acquired through work experience or non-formal training, see article Adult education and training.

Admission to Advanced Vocational Training depends on the fulfilment on one of the following requirements:

• To hold a Bachillerato certificate.

• To have a Technician diploma and have completed a specific training course leading to Advanced Vocational Training cycles, either in a public or private institution authorised by the relevant education authorities. This course has a minimum duration of 700 class hours and is divided into two blocks. The first half is common to all programmes and has an instrumental nature. Students must attain, at least, the learning objectives for Spanish and for a foreign language set up for the stage of the Bachillerato. The second half is further divided into, at least, two specialised branches: science and technology; and humanities and social sciences. Educational Authorities may also establish at least two additional subjects for each of these branches.

• To have passed an entrance examination to Advanced Vocational Training Cycles or a university entrance examination for students over 25. The basic configuration of this exam is regulated by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. However, regional Education Authorities are in charge of the exams and of the specific preparatory courses. In order to be allowed to sit the official examinations, students must be 19 (within the year they take the exam) or 18, if they already have an accredited Technician diploma in the same area of study as the programme for which they are applying. The entrance examination focuses on the general objectives of Bachillerato, as well as on the specific knowledge required for the relevant vocational training cycle. The exam is divided into two papers, a general and a specific one, which is designed taking the contents of the specific preparatory course as a reference framework. Furthermore, education authorities may regulate exemption from any of the two papers, in view of previous accredited training and qualifications of the candidates. The results obtained both in the preparatory course and in the examinations have official validity nationwide.

• To hold a university degree or equivalent.

When the number of candidates applying for a programme exceeds the number of places available, the educational institutions only take into account the students' academic record, regardless regardless of whether they belong to the institution itself or to another one.

Bearing in mind that there are different admission paths, the Education Authorities allocate places according to the following criteria:

• Between 60% and 70% of the places are set aside for students with a Bachillerato certificate.

• Between 20% and 30% of the places are reserved for students who have passed the preparatory course.

• Between 10% and 20% of the places are held in reserve for students applying for admission through other channels.

The Education Authorities regulate further priority criteria within these three general groups, as well as the tie-breaking procedure.

Curriculum

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (MECD), after due consultation with the regional governments, establishes the basic elements of the curriculum for each of the Advanced Vocational Training qualifications, according to the professional profiles with the highest demand within the production system. These profiles specify the general, professional, personal and social competences associated to each qualification, as well as a complete list of the qualifications and competence units included in the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications.

The regulations for each qualification must include, at least, the following information:

• An identification of the qualification: name, length of the programme, professional branch or branches to which it is associated, MECES level, and its correspondence with the relevant European Qualification Framework.

• Professional profile: general, social, personal and professional competences related; and an inventory of the professional qualifications and competence units of the National Catalogue of Professional qualifications included in the programme.

• Working environment, which consist of, among other things, a list of jobs and positions associated with the qualification. • Prospects within the relevant production sector or in other sectors.

• Structure of the programme: general objectives and configuration of the vocational modules (objectives, assessment criteria, basic contents, pedagogical guidelines, minimum length and equivalent number of ECTS credits for the purpose of validation with other levels of MECES).

• Basic requirements for educational facilities: work spaces, minimum equipment according to the number of students, teachers’ qualifications and areas of specialisation.

• Equivalence betweenvocational modules and competence units for accreditation purposes.

• Validation, exemption and equivalence procedures.

• Information regarding requirements, according to current legislation, for professional practice.

• Branches or subjects of the Bachillerato which may contribute to admittance in case of competitive admission procedures.

On the basis of these basic regulations, regional Education Authorities establish, within the scope of their competences, their own additional dispositions for curriculum design in each training cycle, adapting them to the socio-economic context of the region and to its prospects for economic and social development.

Each training cycle within Advanced Vocational Training is structured in a series of vocational modules, which have variable duration. These modules are organised into theoretical and practical knowledge areas, according to the expected outcomes in terms of different professional, social and personal competences. In addition, they can be associated to different competence units form the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications. In order to promote lifelong learning and to contribute to reconcile training with other activities and responsibilities, these vocational modules may also be divided into shorter training units.

The different vocational modules which integrate Advanced Vocational Training cycles are the following:

• Modules associated to competence units from the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications.

• A module devoted to professional training and guidance, which includes information regarding learning and employment opportunities, labour organisation, business and corporate relationships, basic labour legislation, rights and obligations arising from labour relationships, as well as training on health and safety at work. All these contents are adapted to the individual characteristics of the relevant professional family or production sector.

• A module on business skills and entrepreneurship, which includes training on the mechanisms for the creation and basic management of companies, self-employment opportunities, social responsibility of companies, innovation and creativity in processes and labour procedures.

• A work placement module (FCT), without employment status, aimed at completing the acquisition of the professional competences that have been attained in the training institutions. Placement also enables students to achieve professional identity and maturity and to complete knowledge related to, among other areas, production and marketing issues, economic management and social and labour relationships within companies. The goal of the work placement is to facilitate labour insertion, to assess and put into practice the knowledge acquired by students during the training programme and to provide accreditation of actual work knowledge, which can only be verified in real working environments.

The Education Authorities decide at which point of the programme students can enrol in this module, depending on the specific characteristics of the training cycle, seasonality, job vacancies or availability of placement positions in companies. The official regulations for each qualification establish the number of vocational modules which the student must have completed in order to apply for work placement. This module can be validated or subject to exemption, provided that candidates have at least one year of accredited working experience in the area, directly related to the qualification involved.

• A project module. This is a specific unit within higher vocational training aimed at integrating the different abilities and knowledge included in the curriculum of all the módulos that make up each training cycle. Students must complete a project which integrates all the technological and organizational variables related to the qualification. Projects are prepared during the last stage of the ciclo formativo, and are evaluated after the work placement module has been completed.

• Additional modules, not directly linked to competence units.

Teaching methods

In compliance with the curriculum planned by Education Authorities, educational institutions must bear in mind the specific characteristics of their student population, as well as their expectations and the training possibilities available in the area, especially regarding work placement module (FCT), in order to provide them with adequate opportunities to acquire the competences of the relevant qualification. The Education Authorities are responsible for the promotion of pedagogical, organisational and managerial autonomy of the schools which organise Higher Vocational Training provision. They must also encourage teacher teamwork and development of training, research and innovation plans, as well as development of any other actions which may contribute to ongoing improvement of training processes.

The teaching methodology of Vocational Training must integrate the relevant scientific, technological and operational features relevant in each case, so as to provide students with a global vision of the production processes involved in the professional field concerned.

As far as Advanted Vocational Training for adults is concerned, both the organisation and the teaching methodology must be open and flexible, based on self-learning, in order to allow adults to enrol in this type of provision, making it compatible with their family and/or work responsibilities.

In addition, training programmes must be adapted to cater for students with specific educational needs, so as to guarantee their access, permanence and progress within the programme.

Progression of students

Students are given a maximum of four opportunities to pass each vocational module, except for work placement module, where students only have two opportunities. Exceptionally, Education Authorities may organise extraordinary official examination calls for those students who have already used up the four regular opportunities to pass the module due to illness, disability or any other personal circumstances which may have hindered normal progress in their studies.

Education Authorities may establish a priority order for completion of the vocational modules, and determine which ones the student must finish before enrolling in work placement.

In order to complete a training cycle, students must receive positive evaluation in all the vocational modules therein included.

Employability

The new structure of Vocational Training within the Education System has been designed so that training programmes and qualifications respond to the needs of the knowledge society, based on competitiveness, employability, mobility of workers and promotion of social insertion and cohesion, adapting these programmes to the specific interests and needs of each person. In order to do so, the training offer must take into account socio-economic reality, the expectations of citizens, training demands, economic and social development prospects, and the need to respond to current qualification needs. In view of this situation, and in order to adapt training offer to social and economic needs, the Act on Sustainable Economy (LES), passed in 2011, estates that Labour and Education Authorities in each regional government must promote the participation of all stakeholders in this type of provision, by establishing the necessary participation mechanisms and bodies in which all the different social agents can be adequately represented. Among the functions assigned to these bodies, we must include the analysis and detection of general and specific training needs of companies and workers in their area, so as to communicate these needs to the relevant education and labour authorities, in order for them to incorporate them into the planning of training provision.

To sum up, the objective is to provide citizens with the training required by the production system, and to adapt Vocational Training provision to the real needs of the labour market, so as to guarantee employability of the persons enrolled in this type of programmes. For this reason, it is essential to collaborate with companies, corporations, business organisations and self-employed professionals, especially in areas related to emergent, growing and innovative business areas. The collaboration must be materialized in the following aspects:

• The structure of the curriculum in each training cycle, as well as the planning of the work placement modules (FCT), the project module, the module of professional training and guidance and the one devoted to business initiative and entrepreneurship.

• Vocational modules must be carried out directly in working premises, so as to guarantee up-to-date equipment and facilities for this type of training.

• The use of equipment and facilities within educational institutions by companies, provided that they do not interfere with regular training and educational activities.

• The promotion of collaboration projects between higher vocational training institutions, universities and companies from the relevant production system.

In Spain, the foundations of dual vocational training, for workers to become professionally qualified through work-linked training schemes which combine work with training within the framework of the education system, which result in a real immersion into the working environment, were regulated at the beginning of November 2012. For detailed information on dual vocational training, see article Reforms in vocational education and training and adult learning.

Student assessment

Student assessment in vocational training is carried out in each of the vocational modules, according to the objectives established as desired educational outcomes, to the assessment criteria for each of these modules and to the general learning objectives established for the whole training cycle.

Students receive a numerical mark (1 to 10) in each vocational module. The minimum grade required to pass each module is 5, except in work placement module, which operates on a pass/fail basis. The final mark for each training cycle is the result of the mark average of all the modules within each cycle, with two decimal positions.

The final grade obtained in a vocational module can be transferred to another training cyle which also has the same module.

As regards evaluation of work placement modules (FCT), the tutor assigned to the student in the firm where placement is being carried out must collaborate with his/her counterpart from the vocational training centre for assessment.

Certification

On successful completion of these programmes, or after passing the required examinations, students receive a diploma of Higher Technicianin the corresponding area of specialisation. This diploma provides accreditation of the competences included in the relevant professional profile, together with working, social and personal competences, as well as with professional qualifications and competence units. The diploma has official, academic and professional validity nationwide.

Advanced Vocational Training diplomas are included in the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications of the education system, which has been designed to respond to the professional competences required in the different production sectors and to contribute to economic development at central, regional and local levels. For this reason, the Catalogue is being continuously updated by the MECD.

According to the International Standard Classification of Education established by the UNESCO, a diploma of Higher Technician in Advanced Vocational Training belongs to ISCED 5B level.

This diploma provides direct access to university Bachelor programmes, in compliance with current regulations for admission to university, or credit validation for the relevant university studies. The mark required for application is the average point grade of all the modules included in the diploma for the training cycle. Recently the MECD has regulated the validation of the different Higher Education qualifications, establishing their relation, and also the validation of ECTS credits between them. The corresponding Educational Authorities are responsible for the validation of the official accredited Bachelor programmes, leading to the studies of Higher Technician.

Students who have not successfully finished all the modules in each training cycles at this level may apply for a certificate of their academic record, which specifies the completed vocational modules, as well as the relationship between these ones and the corresponding competence units accredited in the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications. In addition, students who register partially in some specific vocational modules can apply for these academic certificates, which are issued by the education authorities, specifying those modules the student has already passed, so as to allow them to accumulate the training required to obtain a diploma or a certificate of professional experience. These certificates have official validity nationwide, must be printed in official standard forms, and must include, at least, the following details:

• Personal information.

• Specific information about the training cycle.

• Information about the school where the programme has been carried out.

• The final marks obtained in each of the vocational modules, specifying the year and the order of the official call for examinations. • Admission requirements.

In addition to this, at the request of the person concerned, the relevant Labour Authorities certificate of professional experience,'which states the vocational modules completed by the student and provides accreditation for the competence units associated to them and included in the certificate of professional experience.

These competence unitsmay also receive accreditation without having necessarily completed the vocational modules to which they are associated. In that case, the certificate is only valid for the territorial area of competence of each regional government. On completion of all the competence units, applicants are entitled to a certificate on the corresponding vocational module, which is the minimal unit for accreditation valid at national level. Furthermore, the students who have received an accreditation for the competence units of the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications are allowed to validate the vocational modules associated to them, according to the regulations for each Higher Vocational Training qualification.

Finally, the system for Vocational Training allows for the possibility of sitting specific examinations leading to a diploma of Higher Technician. This is an alternative option to in-class or distance provision. These examinations are intended for persons who already possess a considerable training in a specific professional field but have no official qualifications, and who are able to plan their own learning activity without assistance. Candidates are allowed to take single final examination for each programme module. The exams are held at least once a year by regional Education Authorities, and assessment is carried out independently for each vocational module. The contents of the examination refer to the curriculum of each training cycle. Applicants must be at least 20 years old and meet some of the admission requirements for Higher Vocational Training. In addition, the education authorities have to ensure equal opportunities, non-discrimination and universal accessibility for people with disabilities who sit these examinations.

Organisational variation

Advanced Vocational Training provision must be flexible in order to allow students to combine training, work and other types of activities. Therefore, students may enrol in complete programmes, in individual components or in distance education.

The MECD and the regional Education Authorities have undertaken the responsibility of promoting distance Vocational Training, giving priority to growing economic sectors or to those which are currently generating employment. In order to do so, the MECD, in collaboration with the regional governments, designs the materials required for distance programmes. Along the same lines, a system of online Vocational Training has been developed. In the case of Advanced Vocational Training, the system allows to:

• Enrol in distance Higher Vocational Training cycles.

• Engage in the additional training, required by applicants to the diploma of Higher Technician who have received accreditation of professional competences acquired through work experience.

• Complete the vocational modules associated to the different competence units of the National Catalogue of Profesional Qualifications, as part of the training which can be accumulated towards obtaining a diploma of Higher Technician.

• Enrol in courses leading to access to Vocational Training.

• Find information about the different online training possibilities provided by Education Authorities.

As far as the educational institutions organising online courses are concerned, Education Authorities are responsible for implementing the necessary measures in order for these centres to have the required facilities, equipment, resources, teachers and materials to guarantee training quality. Any institution which organises this type of provision must be duly authorised, except public centres specifically devoted to distance training.

In distance Higher Vocational Training, students are required to take in-class examinations in approved centres in order to receive a final mark for each of the vocational modules. This evaluation, however, is designed according to the different student assessment procedures employed throughout the programme.


Second Cycle Programmes


The goal of university Master's degree programmes is to provide students with advanced specialised or multidisciplinary training, geared towards academic or professional specialisation, or towards the acquisition of basic research skills.The workload required in a Master's degree programme ranges from 60 to 120 credits of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

Master's degree programmes belong to Level 3 of the Spanish Qualification Framework for Higher Education (MECES), and they are defined according to the following descriptors in terms of educational outcomes:

• To have acquired advanced knowledge and to be able to demonstrate, within scientific, technological or highly specialised contexts, detailed and proven comprehension of theoretical and practical features related to one or more fields of study, as well as an expertise in the relevant methodological work procedures.

• To be able to integrate and apply knowledge, understanding, scientific foundations and problem-solving abilities to new or loosely defined environments, including multidisciplinary research and professional contexts which require high levels of specialisation.

• To be able to evaluate and select appropriate scientific theories, as well as adequate methodological tools, within an area of studies, so as to build hypotheses on the basis of incomplete or limited information, including, whenever necessary and pertinent, a reflection on the social and ethical responsibilities which the proposed solutions may entail.

• To be able to predict and control the possible outcomes of complex situations, by means of developing new and original work methodologies, adapted to the specific scientific, research, technological or professional field, usually multidisciplinary, where the activity is being developed.

• To be able to convey information to all types of audiences, in a clear, unequivocal way, regarding the results of scientific and technological research or of activities developed in pioneering areas, as well as about the most relevant theoretical foundations underpinning these results.

• To have developed the necessary level of autonomy in order to participate in research projects and in scientific or technical joint ventures within their area of specialisation, working in multidisciplinary contexts which may also require a high component of knowledge transfer.

• To be able to take on responsibility over one’s professional development and specialisation in one or more fields of study.

Master’s degrees can be professionally, academically or research oriented:

There are professionally oriented Master’s degrees which entitle the holder to perform a professional activity that is regulated in Spain, and which are an essential requirement in order to be able to pursue the relevant profession, but there are also professionally oriented Master’s degrees, providing students with advanced, specialised or multidisciplinary training, which do not entitle the holder to perform a professional activity that is regulated in Spain.

Academically oriented Master’s degrees aim to look in depth at an academic or scientific field, and research oriented Master’s degrees focus on the acquisition of basic research skills.

Universities, in the exercise of their autonomy, decide the orientation of the Master’s degrees they offer. They must meet the requirements established by the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA) in order to be accredited and included in the Registry of Universities, Centres and Degrees (RUCT).

Branches of study

University Master's degree programmes are associated to one of the following knowledge branches:

• Arts and Humanities.

• Experimental Sciences.

• Health Sciences.

• Social Sciences and Law.

• Engineering and Architecture.

Admission requirements

In order to apply for admission in Master's Programmes, candidates must hold an official university degree, issued by a Spanish university or by a higher education institution within the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), which qualifies for admission at this level.

Students who fulfil this prerequisite may be accepted into the programme on the basis of specific criteria regarding academic merit. These criteria may be related to the specific degree they are applying for or established by each university. In the later case, universities must include in the programme description a list of procedures and admission requirements, such as, for example, whether candidates need to have specific previous training in certain areas or subjects. As regards to students with special educational needs arising from disability, admission procedures must provide for the adequate support and guidance services in order to evaluate possible adaptations of the curriculum, alternative learning paths or study programmes. For detailed information on special educational needs see the article on Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education.

Each university decides on the number of students who may be admitted to Master's degree programmes.

Curriculum

University Master's degree programmes have a length of one or two academic years.

Universities have autonomy to design their own curriculum, which must include: core and optional subjects, seminars, an external placement, supervised projects, Master’s theses, evaluation activities and other assessment criteria, as well as any other specific programme features. Once the curriculum has been drawn up, it is submitted to the University Council for validation, according to the procedures established by the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA).

University Master's degree programmes require students to write and defend a Master’s thesis, which is awarded between 6 and 30 ECTS credits.

Teaching methods

Universities have full autonomy to decide on the teaching methods used for their provision. In Master's degree programmes, university departments are responsible for the organisation of teaching and research activities in their respective subjects or knowledge areas. However, teachers are free to follow the methodological principles and pedagogical methods they wish, and to resort to the resources they consider most appropriate for their activity.

In general, teachers use different teaching methods at university, being lectures the most common practice, although it is becoming increasingly more common to resort to other types of activities, such as seminars, cooperative work, learning based on problem-solving activities, project-based learning, etc. Practical classes (for example, laboratory or computer practices) are very frequent in experimental science studies.

The use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the classroom is quite frequent. Most universities have technology support services for teachers, so as to help them devise multimedia materials and to encourage their use of ICTs. Presentations by means of computers or overhead projectors are also common practice, as well as the use of videos, computer-assisted learning, etc. Futhermore, teacher/student communication through the Internet or through virtual classrooms, online platforms, virtual spaces for specific subjects, websites, and so on is also frequent.

Progression of students

Universities, making use of the autonomy granted to them by legislation, establish the conditions for the promotion of the students, as well as the minimum and maximum periods that a student may remain in a programme. In order to pass a subject, students are allowed to sit examinations for a limited number of times. Students have between four and six attempts depending on the degree programme or institution. Moreover, they are allowed to take final examinations for the same subject only twice a year.

Employability

The improvement of employability of university graduates is a constant source of concern for Education Authorities and universities. In order to deal with this problem, the following principles must underpin university education:

• To include in their study plans abilities and skills oriented towards innovation, creativity, business initiative and entrepreneurship, incorporating them into the different subjects, concepts and cross-curricular competences, in learning methods and in assessment.

• To make proposals for new degrees and educational provision which prepare students for the qualifications required by new employment needs so as to improve employability of citizens in the labour market.

• To promote adaptability to social and economic changes, providing citizens with opportunities for ongoing professional development and extension of university studies; and to increase the possibilities for mobility in education within Spain and in Europe, as well as the effective incorporation of university graduates into the labour market, strengthening the links between universities and the business world, paying special attention to the promotion of competences for entrepreneurship and self-employment.

Several opportunities for collaboration between universities and the productive sector exist, such as:

• Creation of technology-based innovation companies.

• Establishment of innovation poles, by means of providing a common physical space for universities and companies in the production sector. • Launching and promotion of programmes to enhance transfer and appreciation of knowledge.

• Creation of consortiums for research and the transfer of knowledge.

• Creation of corporate-sponsored university chairs, based on the collaboration in research projects which allow university students to participate and combine their research activity with training opportunities.

In addition, both in the regulations for university education and in the University Student Statute, there are a series of specific measures aimed at promoting university student employability, such as:

• Universities offer students mobility programmes through university cooperation agreements. These programmes pay attention to academic training related to the degree in which the student is enrolled, and to other competence areas, such as training for employment. For detailed information on the types of mobility programmes available for university students see the article on Mobility in Higher Education.

• External work placement allows students to increase and apply the knowledge acquired during their academic training, contributing to the acquisition of competences that will prepare them for their future professional career.

• Universities have student information and guidance services available, the aim of which is to provide information and orientation regarding learning itineraries and future professional opportunities, training in cross-curricular competences and design of professional projects, in order to facilitate student employability and insertion in the labour market.

• Universities also offer student guidance and monitoring until they graduate. The law also considers the possibility of degree advisors. These are coordinators or student advisors who provide guidance to students throughout the program, regarding their learning process as well as their professional prospects in the labour market.

• The statute also contemplates the possibility of creating alumni associations for former students. These associations must be registered at universities, and one of their goals is to collaborate actively in providing access to the labour market to university graduates.

For detailed information on the organisation and advising of university students see the article on Educational Support and Guidance.

Student assessment

Student assessment in university Master's degree programmes must be carried out according with the regulations established in the curriculum for each programme. The curriculum includes the subjects approved by university departments, which are the decision-making bodies regarding assessment criteria and procedures.

Universities must verify the knowledge acquired by students, as well as the development of their intellectual training and their academic achievements. In order to do so, it is necessary to establish assessment regulations. Evaluation objectives, tools, procedures, activities and criteria are set up in the syllabi of each programme, and fall under the responsibility of university departments and teachers.

One of the results of the adaptation to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) is the implementation of an assessment system for university education, the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). The European credit is the unit for academic accreditation, it represents the amount of work that a student must complete in order to attain the programme's objectives. Each ECTS credit represents between 25 and 30 class hours. In order to obtain the number of ECTS credits assigned to a subject, both in practical or theoretical learning or in any other academic activity, students must pass the exams or assessment procedures established for that area.

The results obtained by students in each subject, which appear in the student’s record, receive a numerical mark from 0 to 10, with a decimal position, which can be followed by a qualitative mark:

• 0 - 4.9: Fail

• 5.0 – 6.9: Pass

• 7.0 – 8.9: Very good

• 9.0 – 10: Excellent

Students may also be awarded an Excellent mark “with Distinction”, when the student has been given a 9.0 or higher. However, the number of students receiving this special mention cannot be higher than 5% of the total students enrolled in a subject in an academic year. If this number is lower than 20, only one Excellent with Distinction may be awarded.

In addition, students must receive a positive evaluation in the defence and submission of the Master’s thesis.

Certification

On successful completion of the programme, students receive a Master’s degree in the relevant field of studies. The diploma bears the exact name of the qualification, according to the Registry of Universities, Centres and Degrees (RUCT). The diploma is issued, on behalf of the King of Spain, by the university Vice-Chancellor. It has official validity nationwide, and qualifies for regulated professional practice, under the conditions established in the relevant official documents.

The diploma certifies that the holder has acquired the competences assigned to Level 3 of the MECES.

Accredited professional and work experience may also be recognised in terms of ECTS credits, with validity to obtain a Master’s degree, provided that the experience is related with the competences inherent to the qualification.

As a result of the process of adaptation to the EHEA, a new procedure has been established, by means of which universities may issue the European Diploma Supplement, upon request of the person concerned, in order to provide information about the level and contents of the programme for which the diploma is issued. The goal of the EDS is to guarantee, for mobility purposes, transparency and legibility of knowledge and of the skills acquired.


Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure


There are no official university programmes outside the Bachelor's and Master's structure in Spain. However, the degrees belonging to the former systems of university education will be in operation until 2015.


Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes


PhD programmes belong to third-cycle university education and lead to the acquisition of skills and competences for quality scientifical research.

Doctoral studies are assigned to Level 4 of the Spanish Qualification Framework for Higher Education (MECES), which comprises those qualifications aimed at providing students with advanced training in research procedures. In terms of expected educational outcomes, PhD programmes may be defined by the following descriptors:

• To have acquired higher, cutting-edge knowledge and to be able to demonstrate, within the context of internationally recognised scientific research, a deep, comprehensive and proven understanding of the theoretical and practical features which define one or more research fields, as well as expertise in the relevant work methodology.

• To have made an original and significant contribution to scientific research in the relevant area of knowledge, having received recognition by the international scientific community.

• To have demonstrated the ability to design a research project so as to carry out critical analysis and to evaluate loosely defined contexts, to which the acquired knowledge, relevant contributions and work methodology can be applied, in order to synthesise new and complex ideas that may lead to a deep understanding of the relevant field of research.

• To have developed enough autonomy to set up, manage and lead work teams, innovative research projects and scientific partnerships, either at national or international levels, within the relevant research area, in multidisciplinary contexts which may demand high levels of knowledge transfer.

• To have developed the necessary ability to carry out research autonomously, with social responsibility and scientific integrity. • To have confirmed competence to participate in scientific discussions at international level, within the relevant knowledge area, as well as to communicate the results of research activity to all types of audiences.

• To have demonstrated, within a specific scientific field, the ability to contribute to cultural, social or technological breakthroughs, as well as to foster innovation at different levels of the knowledge society.

Organisation of doctoral studies

Official PhD programmes are structured into different doctoral programmes, which are further divided into a series of courses, seminars and other academic activities focused on research training which do not require an ECTS structure. In any case, the central activity at this level is research.

In addition to the doctoral programme, PhD candidates must write, submit and defend a Doctoral thesis, which consists of an original research project which requires a defence, in public session, in front of a board of examiners who are in charge of its evaluation. This thesis must qualify the PhD candidate to carry out autonomous work in the area of Research, Development & Innovation (RDI).

Doctoral programmes are offered by Doctoral Colleges, or by other competent educational institutions in the area of research. The studies may be jointly organised by several universities, or include the participation, by means of agreements, of other RDI bodies, centres, institutions or entities, either public, private, national or international.

Each programme is planned, designed and coordinated by an Academic Commission, which is responsible for the training and research activities which integrate the programme. The Academic Commission is formed by doctors appointed by the university. Researchers from Public Research Bodies (OPI) and from other institutions involved in RDI activities may also participate in these commissions. Each PhD programme has a coordinator, who must be an accredited and renowned researcher.

PhD studies have a maximum duration of three years of full-time dedication (from admission into the programme until the doctoral thesis is submitted). The Academic Commission in charge of the programme may authorise an extension of two additional years. However, doctoral studies may be carried out on a part-time basis, in which case the length of the programme extends to five years.

Admission requirements

On a general basis, in order to be accepted into an official PhD programme, candidates must hold a Bachelor’s degree, or equivalent, and a Master’s degree. Candidates with a previous PhD may also apply.

In addition, admission may also be granted to:

• University graduates who hold a diploma leading to admission into a Master's degree programme, issued by a Spanish university or by a higher education institution within the European Higher Education Area (EHEA); or applicants who have completed at least 300 ECTS credits of official university education, 60 of which must belong to a Master's degree programme.

• University graduates who hold an official qualification of at least 300 ECTS credits, awarded by a Spanish university. The curriculum of these programmes must include training and research credits equivalent to the ones offered in Master's degree programmes. If this requirement is met, applicants must compulsorily pass the specific training units and programme components required for admission into a PhD programme.

• University graduates in Health Sciences, who, after gaining a position in specialised health training by means of an entrance examination, have already passed at least two years of training in a programme leading to an official degree in any of the specialised branches of Health Sciences.

• Candidates in possession of a qualification from a foreign country, once the universities certify that the programme provides equivalent training to the one offered in a Spanish university Master's degree programme and that the degree is also a pre-requisite for PhD studies in the country issuing the diploma.

Universities are entitled to establish additional selection and admission criteria for applicants to specific PhD programmes.

PhD candidates must register each year in the university organising the programme, in the relevant doctoral college or in the institution responsible for the programme, and pay a fee for academic mentorship.

Status of doctoral students/candidates

Doctoral candidates are considered both as trainee researchers and university students.

The rights of doctoral students as trainee researchers are found in the bases described by the European Charter for Researchers and within the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers, of 2005, endorsed by European universities. The post of trainee researcher is regulated in Spain through the Trainee Research Staff Statute of 2006.

The normative allows for trainee researchers, who are carrying out doctoral studies and are performing research tasks in a specific and innovative project, to sign a pre-doctoral contract, which has the following characteristics:

• The contract is for a fixed period, and of a full time nature.

• It must be in written form and it must be between the doctoral student and the public university or the Public Research Organisation. Private universities or universities belonging to the Catholic Church may also offer this type of contract, but only if they receive funding aimed at hiring research staff.

• It must be attached to a written admission on the doctoral programme issued by the Doctoral College or unit responsible for the mentioned programme, in each case.

• The contract lasts for one year and is subject to renewal up to a maximum of four years (six, in the case of disabled students), always depending on a favourable report issued by the academic Commission or the Doctoral College, during the time the doctoral student is on the programme. In circumstances where there exists a temporary disability or handicap, a risk during pregnancy, maternity or alternative care, a risk during breast-feeding and fatherhood the reckoning of the duration of the contract will be suspended.

• Those doctoral students signing the contract are considered as pre-doctoral training research staff.

Their retribution is not less than 56% of the minimum fixed salary established by collective agreements and their scope of implementation during the first two years, to 60% for the third year and up to 75% in the fourth. Likewise, it cannot be lower to the minimum inter-professional salary (currently the Public Income Indicator of Multiple Effects) which is established each year. The pre-doctoral contract benefits of a 30% reduction of the business quotas for Social Security.

In addition, the rights and obligations of doctorate candidates, since they are university students, are regulated by the University Student Statute, of 2010, which devotes a specific section to these student population and mentions, among others, the following rights:

• To receive quality research training, promoting scientific excellence, equity and social responsibility.

• Universities and PhD colleges must promote in third-cycle programmes the integration of PhD candidates in research groups and networks. • To participate in programmes and be eligible for financial assistance awarded to receive training in the area of research, as well as for national and international mobility.

• To be guaranteed recognition and protection of intellectual property rights of the results obtained in doctoral thesis, or in any other previous research projects, according to the terms established by the relevant legislation.

• To be given the status of research trainee personnel, as regards their rights to participate and to be represented in the university governing bodies.

Supervision arrangements

Once candidates are accepted into the programme, the Academic Commission assigns them a mentor, who must hold a PhD and have accredited experience in the institution or college organising the programme. Mentors are responsible for monitoring interaction between the candidate and the Commission. The Academic Commission is entitled to appoint another mentor at any point of the programme, provided that there are justified reasons and after due consultation with the candidate.

Within a maximum period of six months after registration in the programme, the Academic Commission in charge of the programme must also assign each doctoral candidate a thesis director, who may be the same person appointed as a mentor or not. The director must hold a PhD, be Spanish or foreign, and have accredited research experience. As it happens with mentors, the Commission is entitled to change this appointment at any moment during the doctoral programme, provided that there are justified reasons, and after due consultation with the candidate. In any case, the thesis director is responsible for planning adequate and coherent training activities to be carried out by the candidate, as well as for the impact and the novelty of the research area of the doctoral thesis, and for deciding on whether the thesis is consistent with the rest of projects and activities in which the candidate is involved. Subject to authorisation by the Academic Commission, a doctoral thesis may be co-directed by other doctors, on the basis of academic reasons (for example, the multidisciplinary nature of the thesis topic, or the participation of the candidate in national or international programmes).

Once the student has officially registered in the programme, universities open a personal activity portfolio, in which all the relevant activities carried out by the candidate will be registered. This document is periodically reviewed by the mentor and by the thesis director, and evaluated by the Academic Commission in charge of the programme.

Before the end of the first year of the programme, candidates must draw up a research plan, which must include, at least, their intended work methodology, planned objectives, as well timing and resources needed to achieve these goals. The research plan can be improved throughout the programme, and must receive approval from the mentor and the thesis director.

Regulations for official PhD studies state that universities are responsible for establishing procedures to supervise doctoral candidates. This is normally done by means of a written agreement, which must be signed, as soon as possible after admission to the programme, by the university, the candidate, the mentor and the thesis director. This document must include procedures for conflict resolution, including issues related to intellectual or industrial property that may arise throughout the programme.

Employability

The improvement of employability of university graduates is a constant source of concern for Education Authorities and universities. In order to deal with this problem, the following principles must underpin university education:

• To include in study plans abilities and skills oriented towards innovation, foster creativity, business initiative and entrepreneurship, incorporating them into the different subjects, concepts and cross-curricular competences, in learning methods and in assessment.

• To make proposals for new degrees and educational provision which prepare students for the qualifications required by new employment needs so as to improve employability of citizens in the labour market.

• To promote adaptability to social and economic changes, providing citizens with opportunities for ongoing professional development and extension of university studies; and to increase the possibilities for mobility in education within Spain and in Europe, as well as the effective incorporation of university graduates into the labour market, strengthening the links between universities and the business world, paying special attention to the promotion of competences for entrepreneurship and self-employment.

Collaboration between universities and the productive sector may be articulated on the basis of the following initiatives:

• Creation of technology-based innovation companies.

• Establishment of innovation poles, by means of providing a common physical space for universities and companies in the production sector. • Launching and promotion of programmes to enhance transfer and appreciation of knowledge.

• Creation of consortiums for research and transfer of knowledge.

• Creation of corporate-sponsored university chairs, based on collaboration in research projects, which allow university students to participate and combine their research activity with training opportunities.

In addition, both in the regulations for university education and in the University Student Statute, there are a series of specific measures aimed at promoting employability of university students, such as:

• Universities offer student mobility programmes through university cooperation agreements. These programmes pay attention to academic training related to the degree in which the student is enrolled, and to other competence areas, such as training for employment. For detailed information on the types of mobility programmes available for university students see the article on Mobility in Higher Education.

• The incorporation of the external work placement to the study plans.

• Universities have student information and guidance services available, the aim of which is to provide information and orientation regarding learning itineraries and future professional opportunities, training in cross-curricular competences and design of professional projects, in order to facilitate student employability and insertion in the labour market.

• Universities also offer student guidance and monitoring until they graduate. The law also considers the possibility of degree advisors. These are coordinators or student advisors who provide guidance to students throughout the program, regarding their learning process as well as their professional prospects in the labour market.

• The statute also contemplates the possibility of creating alumni associations for former students. These associations must be registered at universities, and one of their goals is to collaborate actively in providing access to the labour market to university graduates.

For detailed information on the organisation and advisement of university students on the basic structure of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (MECD) see the article on Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education.

More specifically, doctors are considered key in the process of changing the productive system toward a sustainable economy, as the main actors in society for generating, transferring, and adapting Research and Development and Innovation (R&D&i). They play a leading role both in regards to transferring knowledge, as in collaboration projects of the university with businesses, research centres and other public or private organisations, in which knowledge and research must revert to the betterment of society, as for the scientific and technological parks.

The Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, within the framework of the 2013-2016 State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation, intends to finance and encourage the training and specialisation of human resources in R&D&i, as well as improve their integration into employment. The objective of the State Subprogramme for Integration, which is part of the State Plan, is to promote and finance the integration of researchers, technologists, technical staff and other professionals in R&D&i, facilitating their entry into the labour market in both the public and the private sector. Among the actions included, the following should be mentioned:

• Hiring of Doctors who have a proven good track record.

• Support and incentives for the recruitment of technologists and university and advanced vocational training graduates.

• Joint programming actions of two different types: International, for the hiring of researchers co-financed by the EU; and regional, for the recruitment of human resources through calls co-financed by the State General Administration and the Autonomous Communities.

Assessment

Universities entrust doctoral colleges, and other units in charge of programme development, with the responsibility of planning evaluation at this level. Thus, these bodies must establish assessment mechanisms, criteria and procedures.

However, the regulations for official PhD programmes state that the Academic Commission is in charge of assessing student’s research plan, as well as the personal activity portfolio, together with the reports issued in that regard by candidate’s mentor and thesis director. In order to be allowed to continue in the programme, students must receive a positive evaluation in these documents. If they are evaluated negatively, on the basis of proven and sound reasons, the candidate can be assessed again after six months, during which time he must draw up a new Research Plan. If the results of the evaluation are still negative, the candidate will not be allowed to remain in the programme.

Once the doctoral thesis is finished, universities, through their doctoral colleges or units in charge of the programme, establish the procedures for submission and the deadline for the defence to take place. During this time, the university guarantees public status to the thesis, so as to allow other doctors to send candidates their comments and observations before the public defence is held.

In order to evaluate doctoral thesis, a board of examiners must be appointed. The majority of board members are experts who do not belong to the same doctoral college or programme. In addition, they all must hold a PhD and have accredited research experience. The board also has access to the candidate’s personal activity portfolio, which is also subject to qualitative evaluation that supplements the assessment of the doctoral thesis.

Finally, the doctoral thesis is evaluated by means of a public defence session, during which the candidate presents and defends the thesis in front of the board of examiners. Any other doctors who attend the defence session are to ask questions to the candidate, according to the procedures established by the board. The board of examiners issues a report and a 'fail/pass/very good/excellent' grade for the thesis. Doctoral theses that are graded as 'excellent' may also be awarded a 'cum laude' mark, which requires unanimous agreement among the members of the board. The university establishes the necessary mechanisms for the awarding of such mark, guaranteeing that the counting of votes takes place in a different session from that in which the thesis is defended.

Certification

Doctoral studies lead to an official PhD diploma, valid in all the Spanish territory.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (MECD) and the universities must establish the regulations for the award of honours, distinctions and doctoral awards for outstanding achievement of candidates in doctoral thesis. The PhD diploma will bear these honours.Once the doctoral thesis has received positive evaluation, the university is in charge of filing an electronic copy, and to send copies to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (MECD) and to the Council of Universities.

Students in doctoral programmes may also be awarded a series of distinctions, called “mentions”, which can be added to the official diploma, according to the criteria and circumstances established in each programme. These mentions are:

• European Doctorate Mention. In order to receive this distinction, candidates must, among other requirements, have completed at least a three-month period in a higher education institution or research centre in a Member state of the European Union, either engaged in training or doing research, which requires accreditation from the host institution.

• International Doctorate Mention. In order to receive this distinction, candidates must have spent at least three months in a higher education institution or prestigious research centre abroad, either taking courses or carrying out research.

• Doctor Honoris Causa. According to the regulations established in their statutes, Universities may award a PhD Honoris Causa to persons who are considered to deserve this honour, in view of their academic, scientific, professional or personal achievements.

Organisational variation

In Spain, students may enrol in distance PhD programmes at universities which organise this type of provision. The National University of Distance Learning(UNED), dependent on the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, has a wide variety of distance doctoral programmes. Some other private universities offer PhD studies as well.

At any rate, candidates enrolled in distance PhD programmes are also required to defend their doctoral thesis in front of a board of examiners, under the same conditions as the rest of students.


Copyright © European Union 1995-2014







EuroEducation Net | admin@euroeducation.net
Copyright©EuroEducation || Terms of Use | Disclaimer | Cookie Policy