Studying in Spain can be a crucial step towards discovering the Spanish culture. However, you may need to obtain a study visa to be able to do so. Find out more in this article.
Higher education system
Studying in Spain is a great opportunity to get knowledge of the third most spoken language in the world, Spanish, and enjoy a vibrant student life in a Mediterranean atmosphere. The country provides a quality education within over 80 universities, as well as technical, polytechnic and engineering schools. Note that the growing number of universities are compliant with European standards, offering degree, master and doctorate courses since 2008-2009.
Beside these courses, the Spanish higher education system also provides senior technician certificates such as the “Tecnico Superior” involving two years of vocational training. After two more years, the student is entitled to a “Grado”.
University fees in Spain are quite low compared to other European countries, that is often less than € 1,000 per year. To enroll in a Spanish university, you must be the holder of a diploma and pass proficiency tests for foreigners as well as Spanish language tests. Note that you may have to register for regional language courses in the province where you will be studying.
The student visa
To enroll in a Spanish university, you must apply for a student visa. In general, application has to be made in your home country well in advance with the help of your school administration. Upon your arrival in Spain, you have to request for the student visa at the Oficina de Extranjeros or the nearest police station to your place of residence within a month. However, this does not apply for students coming from the European Union.
Formalities for nationals of the EU-EEA
Citizens of the EU-EEA, as well as those coming from Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland can freely move to Spain to study with very few formalities to undertake. European students are exempted from university entry tests provided that they comply with basic entry requirements (that is, they are holders of the European Baccalaureate Certificate or an equivalent qualification). Since 2014, each university is allowed to hold internal examinations, if necessary.
European candidates must then obtain authorization from the UNED (Universidad Nacional a Distancia) which will check students' eligibility. You can find out more information on the UNED website.
The next step is pre-registration with a Spanish school or university (eg of pre-registration at the University of Barcelona).
Citizens of the EU-EEA can also benefit from the ERASMUS programme in Spain. The ERASMUS programme is designed for students of the EEA-EU plus Turkey wishing to study in an other EU-EEA country. Diplomas and degrees obtained abroad in the framework of the ERASMUS programme are valid in your home country via the European Credit Transfer and accumulation System (ECTS). ERASMUS grants are also available to students who carry out studies in another european state via the programme.
You can find more information about the ERASMUS programme and the ERASMUS grants available directly through your home university or by visiting the European Commission website.
Formalities for citizens from outside the EU-EEA
Before applying for a sudent's visa, it is necessary to have your diplomas recognized by the Spanish Ministry of Education, and register online to take the Spanish university entry test (the "P.A.U") with the UNED. You will then be able to proceed with pre-registration with the chosen Spanish university.
Citizens from outside the EU-EEA must apply for a "D" visa "Visado Estudiante - Abierto" in order to attend a course of more than 90 days in Spain. Visa applications should be made at the nearest Spanish embassy or consulate to your place of residence. The visa application documents' checklist includes: a passport valid six months after your scheduled return date, 3 duly completed Schengen visa application forms, 3 passport-sized photos, proof of enrollment in a Spanish school or university; a medical certificate (required if you intend to study in Spain for more than six months), attestation of health insurance, financial statements and proof of payment of tuition fees.
Once in Spain, you will have 90 days to apply for your student resident permit, valid for the duration of your studies. To get your resident permit, go to the nearest police station with your student visa. You can find more information on the University of Barcelona website.
Student accommodation is not quite popular in Spain as student life is rather boring after school hours. Hence, students prefer to live independently. In fact, students are more likely to rent a room or opt for flat sharing. Note, moreover, that university campuses are rarely open on weekends. In major cities, Spanish students will rather live with their parents, or event choose the nearest university to their place of residence due to high rents.
However, you can still rent accommodation, especially if you have a part-time job. Students generally give part-time language courses or work in bars. Indeed, there are not many job opportunities for students in Spain, but you can check out or even publish ads in local newspapers or on the university job board.