“When I get a little money, I buy books. If any is left, I buy food and clothes.” - Erasmus
In 2016, 9 Spanish universities were among the top 20 most requested for Erasmus students. Spain is also the most popular country for Erasmus. With a lower cost of living than the UK, a Mediterranean climate, and a festive atmosphere, it’s easy to understand why Spain is so popular. There are also plenty of towns and universities in Spain. So which one should you choose? If you're interested in learning about Spanish language and culture, there are plenty of cities in Spain with private and public universities ready to accept international students studying economics, social science, languages, science, or the arts onto courses. Whether you're planning on becoming an international student for an academic year, doing an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in the humanities, arts, or sciences in Spain, or a doctoral candidate trying to get into a prestigious Spanish university, here's our quick guide to higher education and studying in Spain.
Which Spanish City Should You Study In?
The choice of city is crucial for every prospective student. There are plenty of advantages to living in a Spanish city: sun, culture, student lifestyle, etc. So which one should you choose? Why study abroad? While the choice of what to study and the quality of tuition provided probably is the most important decision, the second most important is where you’ll study as the environment is going to be a lot different to your life in the UK. Furthermore, most towns will have similar opportunities in terms of courses. Thus, we recommend that you carefully choose where you’re going to live before choosing the university. You’re going to spend three months either on internships, a semester at university, or up to 12 months in the same place, so you better make sure that it’s somewhere you like. It’s much better to live somewhere you enjoy with good career prospects. There are plenty of different Spanish cities to choose from, each with their own faculties, campuses, and different ways of teaching. If you have the chance, we recommend that you spend some time in the city you want to live in so you can see whether or not you like it. It’ll help you make the decision.
Criteria for Students
A lot of studies have been conducted to find out what Erasmus students consider important when choosing where they study:
- How easy it is to find accommodation (flatmates, university accommodation, private rents, etc.) and the cost of accommodation.
- The quality of life in the town.
- Cultural dynamism (nightlife, cultural events, university life). You'll be spoilt for choice in terms of cultural activities in Spain.
- The cost of living
- The quality of university infrastructure
For most students, the quality of life means it’s quite easy to settle in Spanish towns. If you need help with enrollment, contact the university itself or check for services advising international students on the steps to take. Pay particular attention to the deadline, too! Your university in the UK may offer education abroad, an internship, international experience. Check the study abroad office and see if there's an advisor you can speak to!
The Most Popular Spanish Cities
According to Uniplaces, the most popular cities for students in Spain are:
- Madrid: The capital city is obviously very popular. This is a dynamic city with plenty of cultural events and an international scene. There’s also a good transport infrastructure and plenty of great places to eat. As the capital city, Madrid is also very multicultural.
- Seville: The capital of Andalusia (known natively as Sevilla) is also very popular among students for the quality of life (the sunshine), popular events (Feria de Abril), and being a great student town. Also, if you like flamenco, there are few better places to study in Spain.
- Barcelona: The capital of Catalonia has a rich cultural landscape and a high quality of life. The cost of living is generally lower than in the UK and you also have the opportunity to learn Catalan! Don't worry, though. There are plenty of language courses to improve your language skills in both languages.
- Granada: This is another big city in Andalusia with a similar quality of life as Seville with the addition of being right next to the Sierra Nevada. Did you know you could go skiing in Spain? Additionally,, you can enjoy all the Moorish architecture and cultural influence.
- Valencia: This port city is popular for its futuristic City of Arts and Sciences. This is perfect for those who love science. There are also beaches right on the city’s doorstep.
- Cadiz: This is a picturesque town by the sea.
- Salamanca: If you love architecture, Salamanca will melt your heart. The University of Salamanca was founded in the 12th century and the city was a capital of learning in the 15th and 16th centuries and is very popular among students.
Seville and Salamanca are among the best cities for students. This is down to the lifestyle in Seville or the architecture in Salamanca. What are you thinking? Mathilde chose Cadiz and hasn’t looked back: “Life is cheap, the climate is pleasant (even though the wind can be unbearable), the locals are friendly.” If you're looking for Spanish courses in Spain, you can always check out the university rankings, ask a former exchange student, or get in touch with undergraduates currently on the course. Studying abroad has never been easier.
What Are the Different Spanish Universities?
To choose the right university or school, you should know what’s on offer.
The Most Popular Spanish Universities
Of the top 20 universities for Erasmus students, 9 of them are Spanish. Here they are:
- The University of Granada.
- Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
- Universitat de València.
- The Polytechnic University of Valencia.
- The University of Seville.
- The University of Barcelona.
- The University of Salamanca.
- The Autonomous University of Barcelona.
- The Autonomous University of Madrid.
While these universities welcome a lot of foreign students, they’re also famous for the quality of the teaching. We couldn’t just recommend one of them. Of course, with popularity comes competition. You’ll need good grades and a good level of Spanish if you want to get into one of these schools.
The Other Universities in Spain
There are also less popular universities. This doesn’t necessarily mean the teaching is of a lower quality. A lot of students go to Granada because of the lifestyle. However, it’s not the only one. Goldman, for example, chose to study in Toledo for Erasmus, “Toledo suits my personality: it’s intimate, historic, beautiful, and just an hour away from Madrid on the bus. There are plenty of lovely places.” Other universities in Spain include:
- University of Almería
- University of Alicante
- Catholic University of Ávila
- International University of Andalucía (Seville, Malaga, Huelva, Baeza)
- International University of Catalonia (UIC)
- University Pompeu Fabra Barcelona
- Ramon Llull University
- Open University of Catalonia
- University of Burgos
- University of the Balearic Islands
- University of Cadiz
- University of Cordoba
- The University of the Basque Country
- University of La Coruña
- University of Lleida
- University of Murcia
- University of Navarre
- University of Oviedo
- University of Santiago
- University of Valladolid
- Zaragoza University
- And many more!
It’s not just universities who welcome Erasmus students. You can also do internships or work experience abroad, attend engineering or business schools, etc. Improve yourself with a Spanish lessons here on Superprof.
How Do You Enrol in a Spanish University?
To study abroad in Spain, you’ll have to get in touch with the relevant authorities including the Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia (UNED). You’ll need to get your results officially translated into Spanish through them. Once you’ve got all your paperwork officially translated, you can start applying to Spanish universities. It won’t hurt to have a good level of Spanish if you want to spend a year in a Spanish university, either. Of course, you can also go to a Spanish university through Erasmus (with the help of the Erasmus grant). There are also other types of financial aid available to international students. Thus, it’s recommended that you plan for your year abroad at least a year in advance and make sure you have the necessary funds to pay for it all. There are plenty of establishments in Spain that welcome Erasmus students. You need to work out that suits your needs. Remember that the route is as important as the destination and you can get intensive Spanish language courses for those studying abroad outside of your university, too. With scholarships, exchange programs, study abroad programs, international academic programs, it's never been easier to start living in Spain and attend a private or public university. If you can't go abroad for a whole academic year or do a gap year, you can always just spend a summer abroad on an international study summer programme. So which Spanish universities do you like the sound of?
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