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lead author for VISCED - Daniela Proli, SCIENTER - for general and university material based on Re.ViCa work by Paul Bacsich, Nikki Cortoos, Ilse Op de Beeck and other members of the Re.ViCa team

For entities in Spain see Category:Spain

For the autonomous communities and cities of Spain see Category:Autonomous communities and cities of Spain

Experts situated in Spain

  • Begonia Arenas

Spain in a nutshell

Spain or the Kingdom of Spain, is a country located mostly in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula.

Spanish territory also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the African coast, and two autonomous cities in North Africa, Ceuta and Melilla, that border Morocco. With an area of 504,030 km², Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe after France.

After serving as a granary of the Roman Empire, much of Spain was later conquered by a Muslim people, the Moors. Christian kingdoms gradually rolled back Muslim rule, completing this Reconquista in 1492. Spain became the leading world power, with a global empire on a scale and world distribution that had never been approached by its predecessors and a legacy today of over 400 million Spanish-speakers worldwide.

Napoleon's invasion of Spain in the early 19th century triggered independence movements that tore the empire apart and left the country politically unstable. In the 20th century it suffered a devastating civil war and came under the rule of a dictatorship, leading to years of stagnation. Democracy was restored in 1978 and the country has subsequently experienced a cultural renaissance and steady economic growth. Spain is now a constitutional monarchy organised as a parliamentary democracy and has been a member of the European Union since 1986, and NATO since 1982.

Education in Spain

Mainly sourced from Eurydice

The education system in Spain is organised into mainstream education and Enseñanzas de Régimen Especial (specialised education). Primary education (6 to 12) and compulsory secondary education (12 to 16) correspond to basic education, which consists of ten years of free and compulsory schooling for all pupils.

Mainstream education comprises:

Pre-primary education (Educación Infantil): it is non-compulsory. It is divided into two stages: the first one, up to the age of 3, and the second, from 3 to 6 years of age

Primary education (Educación Primaria): it is the first compulsory stage of the system. It covers six years of instruction, divided into three two-year cycles. It is normally completed between the ages of 6 and 12.

Secondary education In the Spanish education system, secondary education is comprised of compulsory secondary and post-compulsory secondary.

Post-compulsory secondary education includes two options: the two-year Bachillerato (form 16 to 18), and intermediate vocational training ciclos formativos, the duration of which varies between one and a half or two years. Secondary education also includes artistic professional Music and Dance education, intermediate professional Sports and Plastic Arts and Design education, which belong to enseñanzas de régimen especial. This also covers language education.

The vocational training is also a common possibility after ESO or after the Spanish Baccalaureate. There are two different types of programs: Middle Grade Training Cycles (Ciclos Formativos de Grado Medio), which have the ESO diploma as a requirement, and Superior-level Training Cycles (Ciclos Formativos de grado Superior), which have the Spanish Baccalaureate as the principal requirement. After completion of the Superior-level Training Cycle, students are entitled to direct entrance to several related University degrees (source wikipedia)

University education: Once students have finished their Bachillerato, they can take their University Entrance Exam (Pruebas de Acceso a la Universidad, popularly called Selectividad) which differs greatly from region to region. University in Spain is organised into three cycles, namely Bachelor, Masters and Doctorate, with variable duration and a minimum required number of ECTS credits.

Schools in Spain

Mainstream education comprises:

Pre-primary education

(Educación Infantil): it is the first stage in the education system and it is non-compulsory. It is divided into two stages: the first one, up to the age of 3, and the second, from 3 to 6 years of age

Primary education

(Educación Primaria): it is the first compulsory stage of the system. It covers six years of instruction, divided into three two-year cycles. It is normally completed between the ages of 6 and 12.

Secondary education

In the Spanish education system, secondary education is comprised of compulsory secondary and post-compulsory secondary. The former - Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO) it is divided into four courses and it is ordinarily completed from the ages of 12 to 16, it covers four school years and must be completed after finishing primary education. Successful students are awarded a Secondary Education Certificate, which is necessary for entering further optional education as is Bachillerato for their University or Formacion Professional (Vocational Studies).

Post-compulsory secondary education

This includes two options: the two-year Bachillerato (form 16 to 18), and intermediate vocational training ciclos formativos, the duration of which varies between one and a half or two years.

Secondary education also includes artistic professional Music and Dance education, intermediate professional Sports and Plastic Arts and Design education, which belong to enseñanzas de régimen especial.

This also covers language education. This provision, although not regarded as part of secondary education, belongs to Enseñanzas de Régimen Especial, which may be started at the age of 16 or 14 if the language to be studied is different from the one studied during ESO.

Enseñanzas de Régimen Especial are non-compulsory and structured into different levels and degrees leading to different qualifications and certificates.


The Certificate of Secondary Education is awarded at the end of compulsory secondary education after passing every subject but 2, and a student who achieves appropriate grades graduates from Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO) and can apply for one of the different types of (Spanish) Bachillerato.

The modalities of Bachillerato depend on each region, but are commonly, Arts & Letters (Bachillerato de Humanidades), Natural and Health Sciences (Bachillerato de Ciencias de la Naturaleza y la Salud), Technology (Bachillerato Tecnológico), Social Sciences (Bachillerato de Ciencias Sociales) and Arts (Bachillerato de Arte), having 3 different thematic subjects each, and several common subjects such as Spanish, Foreign Language, Philosophy, History, etc.

Middle or Superior Vocational training is also a common possibility after ESO or after Bachillerato, they are called Ciclos Formativos de Grado Medio for middle or Ciclos Formativos de grado Superior for Superior getting a Technician Degree, or it can be taken after Bachillerato, getting a Superior Technician diploma and direct entrance to several related University degrees, there are more than 200 different specialities.

Students with appropriate qualifications and wishing to enroll in University in Spain must usually take an entrance exam called Selectividad, that consists in 6 tests, 3 for each subject and a test for each History or Philosophy, Foreign Language (commonly English) and Spanish grammar and literature (Autonomous communities that have a co-official language, have also another test about co-official language grammar and literature), after passing their Bachillerato. The Spanish School Leaving Certificate is equivalent to a number of GCSEs. The Bachillerato is equivalent to A levels. Therefore, Spanish students obtaining the appropriate grades required for entrance into universities in Europe, including England, are not precluded.

Further and Higher education

Higher education includes university studies as well as higher vocational education and training. Universities are the main institutions that provide university studies, while higher vocational education is usually linked to secondary schools and to special vocational institutions. Vocational education and training can be delivered in both public and private schools. The latter can be subsidized. This educational level can also be delivered through distance courses.

Over the past three decades, the number of students and universities has increased three-fold, attaining one of the highest rates of university education in Europe: 30% of women and 22% of men between 24 and 34 years of age have graduated from university. The process of decentralising the university system in physical terms has been accompanied by political and administrative decentralisation: powers have been handed over to the autonomous regions in the area of tertiary education. Moreover, in the last years university research has developed and research output indicators have increased dramatically. Another outstanding fact is the increase in the international mobility of academic staff and students. In the last two decades, the number of universities in Spain has doubled. At present Spain has 50 public universities. Two are special universities focused on continuing education and summer courses. One is a distance learning institution. There are 23 private universities; one of them is a distance learning university. Seven of the private institutions belong to the Catholic Church.

Universities in Spain

There are 50 public and 23 private universities in Spain. They are distributed throughout the country but the cities with the highest number of universities are Madrid (13), Barcelona (8) and Valencia (4).

According to the legal form the typography of Spanish universities is the following one: • Public University. - It grants university official and accredited titles. It is financed by the State.

• Private University. - It grants official and accredited titles. It is financed by the registered students themselves. It is ruled by its norms of organization and operation.

• University of the Church. - It grants official and accredited titles. It is financed by the registered students themselves and the Church. It is ruled by its norms of organization and operation.In addition to the official degrees, they grant ecclesiastical titles.

Madrid has the highest number of private universities located there. These universities are very interested in the admission of foreign students to a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs.

There are four different types of university establishments in Spain:

  • university schools (escuelas universitarias), where ‘short-term’ three-year courses are offered;
  • university colleges (colegios universitarios) where the first three years of study leading to a licenciado is completed;
  • faculties (facultades) where long-term courses are offered in all academic disciplines (except technical courses) and
  • higher technical schools of engineering and architecture (escuela superior de ingeniería y arquitectura) where long-term technical courses are completed.

The Spanish university system is rigidly structured and students must choose a fixed curriculum and aren’t permitted to change universities during their studies.

Undergraduate university studies are divided into different stages known as cycles. There are three types of programs:

  • Single-cycle programs (or short-cycle studies): These studies do not continue to the second cycle and degrees awarded are the Diplomatura (Bachelor degree). These are normally three-year programs.
  • Two-cycle studies with an intermediate diploma: The first cycle leads to the award of the Diplomatura (Bachelor), or Arquitectura Técnica and Ingeniería Técnica (Bachelor degree in Architecture or Engineering), and students have the option of continuing to the second cycle for the award of the degree of Licenciatura (Masters degree), or Arquitecto and Ingeniero (Architect and Engineer). These are five or six-year programs.
  • Two-cycle studies without an intermediate diploma (or long-cycle studies): These studies are divided into two cycles but it is necessary to complete both to be eligible for the award of the Licenciatura(Masters Degree). These are four or five-year programs.

In addition to these official degrees or diplomas, each university offers a wide range of unofficial degrees (Maestrias) as well as graduate programs in a wide range of subjects that qualify for the award of the degree of Doctor (Ph.D.). The unofficial degrees are typically one or two years and usually require having attained an undergraduate or graduate degree and are widely recognized for their labour market value, as these qualifications are highly practical in scope and geared to specialized sectors of the different professions. Spanish universities' offer of doctoral degree programs typically require four years of study and research.

The universities cover the whole spectrum of official degrees offered in Spain with the official recognition of its Ministry of Education, as well as a wide variety of non-official degrees in a large number of professional fields.

Polytechnics in Spain

Colleges in Spain

Advanced vocational training studies constitute non-university post-secondary level of education. These studies can be provided either in compulsory secondary education and Bachillerato institutions, which are called secondary education institutes, the so-called national reference centres, or vocational training integrated institutions.

Access to advanced vocational training may be obtained in the following ways:

  • Through direct access, for which it is necessary to hold the Bachiller certificate.
  • Through an entrance examination when candidates do not hold the Bachiller certificate. The examination is regulated by the Autonomous Communities and its objective is to prove that the candidate’s maturity is appropriate to the objectives of Bachillerato and to assess his/her skills for the advanced ciclo formativo of the relevant professional field.

In the event that there are not sufficient places, admission will be prioritised according to the following criteria:

  • Having followed any of the types of Bachillerato determined for each ciclo formativo.
  • The academic record of the student, taking into account, firstly, the average mark and, secondly, having passed the Bachillerato subjects related to the ciclo formativo being applied for.

Education reform


Mainly sourced from Eurydice and European Schoolnet

The latest law reform in the Spanish System is the Ley Orgánica de Educación (LOE), dating from 2006, and it builds on the previous law, named Ley Orgánica de Ordenación General del Sistema Educativo (LOGSE), from 1990. The LOGSE radically restructured the Spanish educational system prior to University education, as it raised the school-leaving age from 14 to 16, among other things. The LOE retains the system introduced by the LOGSE but tries to establish the legal framework for improving the quality of the system by addressing the new challenges facing Spanish society. In particular, it addresses the challenges of a more heterogeneous student population and more developed regional control in all autonomous communities, which by 2000 had all been given full responsibilities in education. It also strives to align the national educational objectives with those established by the European Union, which aims to achieve a leading position for Europe in our present international knowledge society.

The following points are priorities for education:

  1. A National Political Agreement on Education among all political parties to guarantee the legal stability of the system in the long run as well as across the territories of different Autonomous Communities.
  2. To lower the drop-out rates in the compulsory educational levels (pupils under the age of 16).
  3. To promote quality in education while preserving an inclusive system with a strong emphasis on economic aid to compensate for social inequalities.
  4. To promote vocational training through an increase in quality and social recognition and through flexible schemes that allow students to enter the system and transfer credits easily.
  5. To enhance the use of ICT in schools by means of the plan Escuela 2.0 which is aimed at transforming the way we teach and learn.

The LOE and the royal decrees which develop it have being gradually implemented, starting in the academic year 2006/07 and finishing in 2009/10.

Within the LOE framework, it bears mentioning that the Ministry of Education and the Autonomous Communities approved in 2008 the 'Plan para Reducir el Abandono Escolar' (Plan for the reduction of early school leaving), aimed at reducing the still high early school leaving rates to half between school years 2008/09 and 2012/13. The following measures are among the ones approved by this plan:

  • To increase the offer of places in initial vocational qualification programmes (PCPI)
  • To increase the offer of intermediate vocational training, Plastic Arts and Design and Sports Education, in order to fully meet the demand of this education.
  • To offer PCPI students who do not hold the Graduado en Educación Secundaria Obligatoria certificate the possibility of taking a personal aptitude test to access intermediate vocational training.
  • Likewise, to offer intermediate vocational training graduates the possibility of enrolling in advanced vocational training.
  • To promote reinforcement programmes, such as the reinforcement, guidance and support programmes, in order to increase the number of ESO graduates. Likewise, measures will be launched for young people between 16 and 22 years of age to take reinforcement and extra classes in order to obtain the Graduado en Educación Secundaria Obligatoria certificate in the minimum possible time.
  • To extend and reinforce counselling departments, in order to give students advice on the decisions they have to make at post compulsory levels. Moreover, guidance and monitoring services will be promoted for young people who left the education system with no qualification.
  • To develop teacher training programmes on techniques to make the most of pupils’ potential, as well as techniques for early diagnosing difficulties, educational attention and monitoring students at risk of early school leaving.
  • To create support resources for teachers and other stuff involved in the educational attention of low achievers at risk of early school leaving.
  • To promote measures that enable parents’ attendance at meetings with their children’s teachers.
  • To create family support centres, or 'schools for parents', to promote a higher involvement and monitoring in children’s education, as well as the cooperation of the administrations with the parents’ associations.
  • To promote new technologies in all spheres of the education system, especially for unqualified people under 25, in order to promote the offer of distance and part-attendance courses.
  • To promote an education-work culture in which holding at least the Graduado en Educación Secundaria Obligatoria or an initial vocational qualification prevails for the access of young people to employment.

Some other new aspects which should be mentioned are the implementation of the ‘School 2.0 Programme’ and the ‘Social and Political Pact for Education’. In September 2009, the Cabinet passed the ‘School 2.0 Programme’, an educational innovation initiative aimed at implementing the digital classrooms of the 21st century. The plan envisages that, for the 2009/10 academic year, 392,000 students and 20,000 teachers in more than 14,400 fully digitalised classrooms in all Spain would have a laptop they can use to be better educated. This programme will be developed through agreements between the Autonomous Communities and the Ministry of Education. Its objective is the transformation, in the next four years, of the traditional classrooms of the 5th and 6th years of primary education and the 1st and 2nd years of secondary education into digital classrooms equipped with interactive whiteboards and wireless Internet connection, where teachers will have laptops and each student will also work with his/her own laptop. The ‘School 2.0 Programme’ is based on the following principles:

  • Digital classrooms. Equip students and educational institutions with ICT resources: laptops for both students and teachers and digital classrooms with standardized efficient equipments.
  • Guarantee Internet connectivity and interconnectivity in the classroom regarding all equipments and facilitate Internet access from students’ homes during special hours.
  • Ensure teacher training in technological, as well as in the methodological and social aspects of the integration of these resources into daily teaching practice.
  • Involve students and their families in the acquisition, custody and use of these resources.

As regards the ‘Social and Political Pact for Education’, from the beginning of the 2009/10 academic year, the Ministry of Education has held a series of conversations and meetings with the Autonomous Communities, the educational community, social and political groups, as well as the Sectorial Committee, with the main aim of providing the education system with stability regarding regulations. The Ministry of Education has drawn up a document with 104 specific proposals for action which constitutes the basis upon which work is to be continued. The following proposals should be mentioned:

  • The Pact has a clear and determining horizon: 2015-20. It is not only a pact for 2020, but there must also be an explicit commitment on the immediate measures to be taken. There must be an annual proposal which includes the specific measures to be taken, so that they are also linked to a report and an economic commitment.
  • The commitment to citizens that possible present and future changes on regulations which might be adopted regarding different questions which might be agreed will require a parliamentary majority of two thirds.
  • An improvement in the funding of Spanish education
  • The objective that all the population between 0 and 18 is receiving education.
  • A greater flexibility in the education system. A greater permeability between the different educational levels, both vertically and horizontally. One of the key elements where this rigidity is to be eradicated is the last stage of compulsory education.

The preparation of specific measures for vocational training to constitute a comprehensive training and a key instrument in order to move towards a new sustainable economic model.


Universities - and the Bologna Process

Since 1999, Spain has been immersed in a transformation of its higher education system, along with more than 30 European countries, with the aim of creating a European Higher Education Space (EHES). This process will culminate in 2010 and its objectives are to harmonize qualification frameworks and the credit system (units for measuring academic achievement), as well as to guarantee the standards and recognition of qualifications, in order to increase student mobility and facilitate the integration of graduates into the European labor market.

Spain is implementing legal measures for the adoption of the European credit and qualifications system, as well as the European qualification supplements. This facilitates the recognition of official Spanish qualifications in over 30 countries participating in the EHES project, as well as the official recognition of Spanish qualifications in other countries outside the European framework, such as the United States, Asia and Latin America.

The recent past of Spanish universities has taken place within the framework of university reforms, the first of these under the University Reform Law (LRU), which came into force n 1983, and the second under the Organic Law of Universities (LOU), which was introduced in 2001. The first of these focused on universities‘ social embeddedness, democratic organisation and scientific modernisation. The LOU‘s main concerns were the instrumentalisation of quality assurance policies and preparations for the Spanish university system‘s entry into the EHEA. Other measures envisaged in this law, such as regulations governing the functioning of universities, have been the centre of debate on education. The organic law that amends the LOU was approved in April of the current year.

One of the main challenges faced by the Spanish higher education system is its full integration into the European Higher Education Area. It is hoped that this process will improve coordination and make the system more competitive and allow it to improve quality, without detriment to the measures already in place aimed at fostering closer links with the social environment and guaranteeing equity in access.

The participation of Spanish students in mobility programmes such as Socrates/Erasmus is increasingly high. Between 1994-1995 and 2004-2005, the number of students from Spanish universities on this programme rose from 8,537 to 21,350. The main destination countries were Italy (4,250), France (3,412), the United Kingdom (2,974) and Germany (2,553). The number of Socrates/Erasmus students studying in Spain in the 2003-2004 academic year was 24,076 - 83% more than five years earlier. Italy (5,688), France (5,115) and Germany (4,325) sent the greatest numbers of students. Mobility is very low in Spain. Most students do not move to another region to study (or to another city if they can study their desired choice of degree in their own city). In this sense, all Spanish universities have a strong regional dimension, something which is not necessarily positive. The same situation can be applied to vocational education and training, as theses studies are strongly linked to the place of residence.

Administration and finance


Mainly sourced from Eurydice

Schools in Spain may be owned by an education administration or by a private party, either a person or a legal entity (mostly catholic organisations). Non-university publicly-funded schools provide the second cycle of Pre-primary education (3-6 years of age) and compulsory education free of charge. Private non-university schools may be financially independent or government dependent (centros concertados) and may offer any level of education. Publicly funded private schools are funded via educational agreements, which are signed with the education administration of the corresponding Autonomous Community. Schools may sign these agreements provided that the requirements laid down in the educational legislation are met.

In Spain, the education administration decentralized model distributes the education responsibilities among the State, the Autonomous Communities, local administrations and schools. The responsibilities corresponding to each of these levels are set out below:

Distribution of responsibilities in Education (Non University education)

Central government

General organization of the education system, minimum requirements for schools, minimum core curriculum, international cooperation in education, policies to encourage and coordinate research. The central government also organizes the general planning of education and regulation of academic and professional qualifications, core curricula guaranteeing the right and duty to know the Spanish language (notwithstanding the Autonomous Communities’ competence regarding the establishment of regulations to guarantee citizens’ rights to use and know their own languages), High Inspectorate (whose duty is to monitor the observance of minimum requirements for education set by the State for the entirety of the national territory), state-wide general diagnostic evaluations, policies on financial aids for studies, ownership and administration of public schools abroad, establishment of the legal basis for foreign schools in Spain, education statistics for State purposes, etc.

Autonomous Communities

Administrative responsibility within their territories; schools creation, authorization and management; development of State regulations regarding syllabuses and regulation of levels, branches, grades and specializations; guidance and support for pupils; staff management; educational inspection; supervision of textbooks and other materials; diagnostic assessment in schools within their territory; facilitating information exchange and the promotion of good educational or management practices; providing the necessary data to the State to elaborate national and international educational statistics; publishing data and indicators contributing to facilitate transparency, good educational management and educational research; negotiation and awarding of subsidies to private schools; administration of scholarships and aids; regulation of the relevant Autonomous Community’s School Council composition and functions, etc.

Local Administrations

Provision of sites for building public schools; maintenance and refurbishment of Pre-primary, Primary and special education schools; planning extra-curricular and supplementary activities, monitoring compulsory schooling; creation of School Councils within their municipality, representation at the Autonomous Communities’ School Councils and at the schools’ School Councils, etc.


Schools are autonomous in organizational, educational and financial matters, within the framework of current regulations, with the aim of achieving a better adequacy and use of the assigned resources, as well as the adjustment of the pedagogic action to pupils’ specific needs and to the characteristics of the school environment.


All non-university state education is free in Spain, but parents have to buy all of their children's books and materials. There also are private schools for all the range of compulsory education, and also Bachillerato. At them, parents must pay a monthly/termly/yearly fee. Most of these schools are run by religious orders, and include single-sex schools.

Schools supply a list of what is required at the start of each school year and which will include art and craft materials as well as text and exercise books. Expect to spend a minimum of around ninety pounds (GBP) per child,[citation needed] but in some regions, the autonomous government is giving tokens to exchange them in book shops for free, this is being adapted in 2006 in regions, such as Andalucia, where kids from 3 to 10 will get the books for free, on the following years it is expected for all compulsory years. School uniform is not normally worn in state schools but is usually worn in private schools.



This information is out of date

The scholarship system is regulated by the MEC. It establishes a maximum limit of family per capita income, above which students are not entitled to the established benefits and also quantifies the required academic performance. There is a minimum threshold of academic performance, expressed in the form of average marks, below which students are not entitled to receive grants. The norm establishes that the selection process for grant-holders should benefit the students with the highest academic performance. The autonomous communities also offer study grants and scholarships that are generally complementary to those offered by MEC or aimed at promoting certain areas of study.

The total amount of money spent on tertiary education in Spain increased by 47% from 1995 to 2001. This was the highest growth rate in the EU, where the average was 26%.

The Spanish public university system has four main sources of funding:

Regional government subsidies. Each autonomous region is responsible for the general funding and investments of the public universities in its region.

Student aid. The central government is responsible for most grants and scholarships. The student aid system only represents 0.09% of GDP.

Tuition fees. Student fees are not particularly high (on average, 631€ per academic year) and they represent around 18% of total costs.

Revenue from research activities and other services. These funds come mainly from knowledge transfer, continuing education, contracts, patents, collaboration agreements with other institutions or individuals and the creation of foundations and other entities. Central government and the European Union, through their competitive Call for Proposals are an important part of these sources.

Public funds are the main source of funding for university R&D&I, and accounted for 71% of the total funds in 2003. There are two types of public funding: general university funds, and funds allocated to specific R&D&I projects.

Quality assurance


Mainly sourced from Eurydice

In Spain, the evaluation of the education system is viewed as an essential element in order to improve the quality of education, since it constitutes a valuable instrument for the monitoring and assessment of both the functioning and the results of the education system, as well as for the improvement of processes delivering these results. This is evidenced by the fact that the legal framework stresses the need to evaluate all the elements making up the education system: pupils' learning processes, educational results, curriculum, teachers' performance, teaching processes, the managerial function, the running of schools, educational inspection and education authorities themselves. The collection of objective data and their rigorous analysis facilitates the knowledge and appraisal of the achievements and deficiencies present in both the entire system and all its levels and elements. Thus, the necessary foundations are laid for an effective decision-making, which should have an effect on the process for the improvement of the education system.

The 2006 Ley Orgánica de Educación, LOE (Act on Education), devotes titles VI and VII to educational evaluation and inspection, respectively, and considers both to be key aspects to improve the education system. Thus, evaluation is an essential element to increase the education system’s transparency, which must be applied to all its areas, including inspection. In turn, with the aim of ensuring the compliance with regulations on education, the educational inspection takes part in the evaluation of the education system and its elements. Evaluation procedures of all areas and elements of the education system have been established, which has committed the relevant authorities and the different agents of the system to account for the current situation and its evolution. All these evaluation tasks are aimed at improving the quality of the education system.

The general evaluation of the education system at the non-university levels is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, through the Institute of Evaluation (IE) ( This body, reporting to the State Secretariat for Education and Vocational Training, works in collaboration with the relevant evaluation institutions of the different Autonomous Communities. The latter are responsible for the evaluation of the education system within their respective territory.

As far as ICT use in school is concerned, there are periodic national and regional surveys that estimate how many teachers use ICTs and what they use them for. All schools entering pilot plans are closely monitored and they have detailed evaluation plans.



In the area of quality assurance, the main strength is that Spain already has a multifaceted array of quality assurance (QA) schemes and agencies in place at the national, regional and institutional levels. They deal only with teaching activities of universities, since the evaluation of research is the responsibility of specialised agencies (which are currently being merged into a single one responsible for the evaluation of the National Plan for Research ,and Development). A separate set of QA mechanisms are also developed for higher vocational education.

In 2001, after 10 years' experience in quality assurance, the LOU formally introduced external quality assessment mechanisms based on objective criteria and transparent procedures. Degree courses and qualifications were to be regulated by guaranteeing the quality of recognised degrees and syllabuses. Article 13 of the LOU states that assessment and accreditation are the responsibility of the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA) and such other higher education quality-assurance bodies as may be established by regional legislation. In 2002, in compliance with the LOU, the government created the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA). Since 1996, 11 autonomous regions have created their own quality assurance agencies.

As regards quality, the public Administration shall guarantee the quality of training offers and cooperate in the definition and implementation of the evaluation process of the National Qualification and Vocational Education and Training System after consultation with the General Council on Vocational Education, and taking into account the responsibilities of the Autonomous Communities. The Ministry of Education and Science is coordinating the establishment of a quality network with the participation of the administrations of the Autonomous Communities.

Information society

Towards the information society

We were at crucial moments for the taking off of an wide application of the TIC in the university education, that reaches the critical volume able to initiate a true process of change.the Conference of Directors of Spanish Universities ( indicated a series of important processes for the Spanish universities:

• An increasing tendency to bring the academic world closer to society (as the proliferation of the number and relevance of the University-Enterprise foundations shows), including the general concern towards the need of an improvement of linguistic, communicational and computer-related competences within the university community;

• A clear invitation to shift the traditional teaching-oriented paradigm to a more flexible learning-oriented one;

• A determined will to reform the system of postgraduate studies and foster its importance in the education and better qualification of the professionals;

• The stress on the role that virtual education is to play according to the prospects of a lifelong learning kind of society. The three wide areas of the university environment where the impact of ICT was to be perceived were:

• the production and distribution of contents, both in education and in research,

• the teaching/learning models, and

• the organisational model.

Among the most symptomatic issues and observations raised by this text, we would like to underline the following:

• The ‘pressure’ or competition from the non-academic providers of ICT in higher education,become increasingly intensive in these organisations;

• The many actions taken by traditional universities concerning the integration of ICT, are not well supported by explicit and clear institutional general policies. In this sense, it is very much recommended to have a clear educational policy, based on the screening of addressees and the identification of the goals and the choice of the kind of technology to be used;

• The strong resistance of teaching and administrative staff to the introduction of ICT in the academic pedagogical and organisational model;

• The recommendation of the search for models combining traditional face-to-face teaching with distance learning modules (blended formulas);

• The prospects of future growth for higher education will emerge from the continuous professional education needs;

• In order to maximise the investments needed in this process of innovation, the engagement of universities in larger networks or consortiums with other universities in an international framework, and/or with public institutions and/or with private organisations was promoted. ICT is perceived as a means to facilitate the organisation and implementation of international ICT based courses. The idea of a virtual Erasmus is already into motion and one of the major challenges in this process.

ICT in education initiatives

Virtual initiatives in schools

Mainly sourced from EUN

All autonomous communities are fully responsible for the schools in their territory and that includes the promotion of ICT in schools. ICT policies vary in emphasis and depth among the seventeen Autonomous Communities and the two Autonomous Cities (Ceuta and Melilla), although all plans address the common challenges that the adoption of ICT in school entails within that range of variation. It is worth mentioning, for instance, that Extremadura has become known worldwide for its commitment to open software and its excellent rates of computers per pupil, and that all communities have their own plan to promote connectivity and hardware deployment, although open software may not play such a relevant role. For instance, Aragon has pilot plans for introducing tablet PCs and Interactive White Boards, and Catalonia for introducing netbooks in schools.

The Spanish Ministry of Education still coordinates some initiatives at a national level in collaboration with the autonomous communities, like the National repository for digital resources, federating content from nodes in each Autonomous Community, and the project ESCUELA 2.0.

Whilst there are relatively few fully virtual schools, an increasing number of schools offer the Bachillerato online, often with other online courses which may be targeted at adults, but are available for young people also. The Autonomous Region of Murcia, in particular, includes several of these.


Escuela 2.0 is a nationwide ICT plan for school building on the developments already achieved in each region and going further, trying to generalize the access to hardware and digital content in school in order to pedagogically integrate ICT into school life. The program had a budget of 200 million euros for the 2009-2010 academic year, co-funded in equal parts by the Central Government of Spain and the various Autonomous Regions (2010/2011??’).

The goal of the program is to transform the traditional fifth- and sixth-year Primary Education and first- and second-year Secondary Education classrooms into digital classrooms equipped with digital blackboards and wireless Internet connection, where the teacher will have a laptop computer and where each student will work with an ultra-mobile personal computer.

To that end, the Escuela 2.0 project is based on the following fundamental principles:

  1. Providing ICT resources to the students and the centres.
  2. Guaranteeing Internet connectivity in classrooms and homes.
  3. Ensuring the proper training for teaching staff.
  4. Generating and facilitating access to digital materials for teachers, students and families.

Proyecto Agrega

The Agrega project (Agrega is the Spanish word for "add") is a federation of learning Digital repository which is to be used by 19 educational authorities in Spain. Each educational authority will have its own repository loaded with curricular learning objects created according to standards, and each single repository will be able to integrate and interoperate with other learning systems locally and worldwide. The Agrega project has a clear focus on integration and interoperability between Agrega learning repositories and the rest of the world. Moreover, it is open to collaborative evolution based on a generic GPL licensing. It is the first step towards providing a nation-wide access to content generated by the education community in a consistent and interoperable way. Curricular content for Agrega is being developed under Creative Commons licensing schemes, can be experimented directly from a web site, offline or by an LMS, and all the contents and application will be localised in Spanish, Euskera, Catalan, Valencian, Gallego and English.

The Educational Technological Network represents the access of Extremadura (a region in Western Spain) School System (kindergarten, primary, secondary and high school) to the Information Society. This access includes the development of infrastructures (software, hardware and Intranet) and the establishment of an area where research, capacity building and innovation will be promoted in the domain of ICT. This will guarantee to all the citizens of the region the use of information resources and the access to opportunities.

Catalan Blog project "Escoles en Xarxa"

The idea of the Catalan project "Escoles en Xarxa" (Schools on the Net), originates from an initiative of a secondary school in Barcelona willing to establish a blog for their news service. Adapting journalism practices in high schools from printed newsletters to the web and then to blogs has been a logical evolution and a constant demand from Catalan schools. The project received support by the Catalan Department of education in charge of the coordination of ICT educational projects with two goals in mind. Firstly, to create a community based on the Catalan language in secondary schools, and secondly to spread social values using ICT. Fifty three schools are now connected to the project in the Catalan speaking Community (Andorra, Balearic Islands, French Eastern Pyrenees, Catalonia and Valencia). Escoles en Xarxa permitted the establishment of a community and network to promote a minority language.

Use of learning platform in teaching/learning

Moodle is widely used for online teacher training, but only a limited number of schools have also adopted it for their own purposes. Most Autonomous Communities provide their teachers with a virtual learning environment to upload and share resources with their pupils; they are hosted centrally, not at school, and often happen to be custom-made by software companies. They have been the most successful solutions for VLE since they are centrally administered and in this way schools do not have to devote resources (people and machines) to maintaining them. There is also regional support for schools in order to have a school portal and intranet; in those cases central servers host the school web sites, which the school manages through a pre-installed content management system. Sometimes, an open software solution like Joomla! is used, as in the case of the community of Castilla la Mancha.


Epysteme is a virtual school offering support for homeschooling, from primary to secondary education for those who needs a qualification but cannot obtain it through attending school in presence. It is linked to US qualifications.


A distance learning education centre which offers an online Bachillerato, online courses for primary and secondary pupils and some online vocational training.


A private education centre, which offers an online Bachillerato and other online courses. It is a founder member of the National Association of Distance Education Centres.

Aula Aragon

A distance learning project of the Aragon government, this centre offers an online Bachillerato, online informal courses, some online vocational education and online teacher training through its Moodle virtual campus.

Bachillerato a Distancia Colegio de Madrid

Although this organisation is linked to the National Autonomous University of Mexico and has a Mexican website address, it has a centre in Madrid which offers an online Bachillerato.

IES Francisco Salinas

A public secondary school in Salamanca offering an online Bachillerato through its Moodle virtual campus.

Secondary Schools in Murcia

At least five public secondary schools in the Murcia region offer an online Bachillerato: IES Isaac Peral, IES J. Ibanez Martin, IES Juan Carlos I de Murcia, IES Jose L. Castillo Puche de Yecla and IES San Juan de la Cruz - Caravaca de la Cruz.

Escuela Virtual de Padres

The Virtual school of Fathers is a Spanish web portal for parents, aimed at supporting them in their role through useful documents and spaces for dialogue around the issues of children education and related problems. The portal include a specific session called “Escuela Virtual”, where materials can be downloaded and a forum is available.

Virtual initiatives in post-secondary education

Re.ViCa Case-study - Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

See Universidad Politécnica de Madrid - case study

Interesting Virtual Campus Initiatives

The eLearning in Higher Education education can be constituted more as a complement of the traditionalforms of education or as a strategic pillar of the university. According to the academic director of the UOC, A Sangrá, there are five forms of application of e-learning in the universities:

  • Current University that introduces virtual elements in its educational dynamics. Examples of this model is the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), the Complutensian University of Madrid (UCM), University of Oviedo (UNIOVI), Pompeu-Fabra University (UPF) or the University Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M)
  • Current University with virtual university extension: a widely extended model at universities.
  • Virtual University based on the traditional university: The incorporation in a traditional university of a virtual university working along with the traditional one. It can be the case of the University Ramon-Llull (URL), with masters exclusively online or the MBAs of universities like Stanford or Harvard.
  • Common interuniversity virtual Spaces are based on having an unique virtual point of contact to several universities. According to Auna Foundation, examples in Spain are:
    • G9 Group: It is a virtual space located in the north of Spain.
    • ADA Madrid: This virtual Campus is related to the region of Madrid.
    • Intercampus: Is located in Barcelona and other cities around Barcelona.
    • “Instituto universitario de postgrado”: Are included three important universities and Santillana group.
    • Universia: This is very important because in this site are included more than 750 universities from Spain and Portugal.
  • Virtual University as virtual organization the representative model is the distant learning Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) or universities like the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia.

In Spain, the distant educational offer is concentrated in two institutions: the National University of remote Education, UNED, a public university with more than thirty years of existence, and the most modern one “Universitat Oberta de Catalunya” (UOC). They are two forms to understand remote education, the relation with the student and the use of the Network.


Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

The prime objective of the UOC is to enable people to achieve their learning needs with maximum access to knowledge. To this end, the University employs the intensive use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and offers an educational model based on the personalization and constant accompaniment of the student, beyond the limitations of time and space.

The UOC leads the emergence of the new model of online education of the knowledge society.

The educational model of the UOC facilitates access to learning resources from any place and at any time, in a way that permits education to be integrated in people's lives.

The educational model of the UOC revolves around society's needs and is based on:

  • the quality of academic activity
  • research surrounding the ICT
  • the dissemination of knowledge

The UOC has received international awards in recognition of its educational model and the quality of its academic activity.

Educational model

At the UOC, the student is the protagonist of an educational process, which, thanks to the use of new technologies, is unlimited in both time and space. The student manages their own time, plans how long they take to complete the studies and builds their own academic itinerary.

  • The counsellor guides the student through their learning process in a personalised way.
  • The tutor supervises the student's progress in each of their subjects.
  • The course plan of each subject defines the learning process, the method of working and the evaluation criteria.
  • The continuous assessment guarantees the academic process and the development of the course.
  • The Virtual Campus is the support and learning area from where the student can access resources and interact with the university community.
  • The multimedia didactic materials complement the specific material for each subject.
  • The virtual library gives access to all of the information resources.
  • The university community services include resources, activities and advantages to assist with the student's integration into the UOC.
  • The support centres personalised attention, study resources and a place to meet with other students.

Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia =

The Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) is the public Spanish Open University, based in Madrid, Spain. It was founded in 1972 following the idea of the UK's Open University to provide quality higher and continuing education opportunities to all through the distance education system.

UNED is similar to other Spanish public Universities. It awards the same qualifications, which are equally valid and it is run under the same general legislation. However, the special features of UNED make it different from most other Spanish Universities. This is due to the fact that it is nationwide in scope, uses different methodology, and has a wide social influence.

The University Reform Law in Spain ensures UNED the same degree of autonomy as the rest of Spanish universities. The law states that UNED is to provide distance education throughout the country.

It is UNED's teaching methodology, what actually makes it special within the spectrum of Spanish higher education. The keystones of this methodology are printed and audiovisual teaching material, tutorial teaching, and an ever-increasing use of new information and communications technologies.

UNED’s mission is to be present as a centre of excellence throughout the world. In line with a policy of quality growth based on coexistence and cooperation with local universities and institutions, it now has centres in the following countries:Argentina (Rosario and Buenos Aires), Belgium (Brussels),Brazil (Sao Paulo), Ecuatorial Guinea (Bata and Malabo), France (Paris), Germany (Bonn), México (México D.F.), Morroco (Tangiers), Portugal (Lisbon), Switzerland (Bern), Venezuela (Caracas), United Kingdom (London), United States (Miami and Washington, D.C.)

All of these UNED centres are in constant communication with the central headquarters in Madrid, so that students can make full use of UNED’s logistic and academic network. From these centres, the students have easy access to a network of tutors, in depth administrative support, counselling, enormous library collections, meeting places for professors and students, and examination and consultation points, in short, a complete university environment.

UNED is also fully committed with the creation of an Ibero-American university space, which allows for the growing international relevance of the teaching and scientific research that is carried out in Spanish and Portuguese.

More examples

See also

More initiatives are collected in the MEGATRENDS project:

The book "Buenas Prácticas de e-learning" by Ana Landeta Etxeberrí gives an overview of interesting e-learning and distance learning initiatives and projects in Spain (and some other countries). Available in Spanish at

A paper on "The conditions and challenges of e-learning in Spain" is available at

A "country brief on e-learning in Spain" of the eUSER project is available on

Lessons learnt

General lessons

Notable practices


Schools and colleges


Bricall, J. Informe Universidad 2000. (Report commissioned by the CRUE, Conferencia de Rectores de las Universidades Españolas). Available at

Sánchez-Mesa Martínez D.,Virtual Education and the European Accreditation System. In: Boonen A. & W. Van Petegem (eds.). European Networking and Learning for the Future. The EuroPACE Approach. 2007, Garant, Antwerp-Apeldoorn. p. 137-146.

Landeta Etxeberría A., Buenas Prácticas de e-learning. 2007, @nced, Spain.

elearning country report:

OECD Country Report:

NML-NIB im internationalen Kontext Länderbericht: Spanien (PDF - EN) by FNM-Austria

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