According to a report by Spain's Ministry of Universities, of the 1.7 million registered university students in 2021-2022, 6.3% were not from Spain. The number of international students choosing Spain has increased in recent years and the trend shows no signs of slowing down.
The days of international students heading exclusively to the UK, US or Canada are long gone. Before globalization, getting an international education was a privilege only available to a few: your English had to be perfect, you had to be able to travel freely, and you were usually from a western country.
Now, with new technologies and new economies on the rise, there's a much more level playing field when it comes to studying abroad. There is a wider range of destinations on offer than ever before, and the backgrounds of those who want an international adventure are changing too: in Spain, almost 25% of international students are from Latin America and the Caribbean, 11% are from Asia and almost 10% from North Africa.
But why has Spain been shooting up the list of preferred destinations for students from across the world in recent years?
More and more Spanish universities can be seen high up the list of international quality rankings, which have traditionally been dominated by universities from the English-speaking world. The Spanish presence in the THE, QS and ARWU-Shanghai rankings has been increasing in all categories, including academic excellence, diversity and research impact.
What's more, private universities in Spain are also gaining international accreditation from independent organizations, undergoing demanding auditing processes to ensure internal processes are of a high quality. Gaining an accreditation from the likes of the EAEVE for veterinary faculties, or the CeQuInt certification for internationalization, are high-priority objectives for universities across Europe in their efforts to boost their profile and attract top students.
There is no doubt that being able to speak Spanish is a great asset in today's job market: according to the Instituto Cervantes, there are more than 500 million native speakers of Spanish, and the number is forecast to grow to 750 million by 2050. The great Spanish-speaking world is also, of course, a great market, and so there are a host of companies out there looking for staff who can speak English and Spanish – and they're willing to pay for it too.
But if you choose to study in Spain, you don't necessarily have to study in Spanish. More and more Spanish universities are offering courses in English, and even entire degrees in languages other than Spanish: there are bilingual Spanish-English programmes in communication, business, architecture and other technical fields, and degrees in physiotherapy and other health sciences in French. Such programmes are on the increase and the trend shows no signs of slowing down in the near future: did you know that there are 283 degree programmes in Spain in which at least 30% of the teaching takes place in English?
Spain has long been a favourite destination for exchange students in Europe, but it's also high on the list for students from Latin America. However, Spain's increasing internationalization in recent years means that it is attracting more and more students who don't have the traditional international student profile, and who see Spain as a safe, enjoyable and exciting place to study in.
Spain is the second safest country in the European Union, with a crime rate which has decreased by 7.4% over the last decade. The feeling of safety when using public transport or going out at night is something which international students from countries with higher crime often comment on.
In addition to being safe, the cost of living in Spain is considerably lower than in neighbouring countries, giving Spain a clear edge for those considering studying abroad.
There's no doubt that the average costs for accommodation, leisure and transport in Spain are noticeably lower than in the rest of Europe, the USA or Canada.
University education in Spain is not free, even in the state system, but you may be surprised to learn that many grants and means of financial support are available to international students. SEPIE, the Spanish agency for the internationalization of education, has created a grant search facility for different kinds of students, which you can find here.
Private universities also have their own specific programmes aimed at attracting international students. CEU UCH, for example, has created a grants page for international applicants from Latin America, Europe and the rest of the world.
These programmes could provide you with significant financial support for your studies, especially if you have a good academic record, and, of course, you fulfil the application requirements. But the opportunities don't end there: once here, many students apply for paid placement programmes or even part-time jobs which are compatible with lecture timetables. These are two excellent options to consider, as you can gain valuable professional experience and earn some money!
If you've explored all the options and you think Spain is the right place to get a degree, then apply for admission. If you're from an EU country, you have a great advantage as you won't need a student visa to study in Spain. If you're coming from outside the EU, you will need a visa, but the process is straightforward: for example, unlike Canada or the USA, since 2022 foreign students in Spain do not have to renew their residence permit every year.
OK, now you need to keep these key concepts in mind: reserving a place at the University, your records, keeping in contact, accommodation, and health. And don't forget your passport. Have you got everything? Then we can't wait to see you here on campus here in Spain!
In certain cases, it is necessary for international students to obtain a visa that authorizes them to legally reside in our country. This happens especially to students whose country of origin is not in the European Union and whose study stay is going to longer than three months.
We recommend that if you require a visa, you start as soon as possible to carry out the necessary procedures to obtain it, since administrative times and deadlines may vary depending on the country and circumstances. You can find here the contact information of your nearest Spanish Embassy or Consulate.
In any case, if you need advice or have questions about visas, foreigner identification cards (TIE) or any other documentation necessary for you to study in Spain, our ISS - International Student Services office is at your disposal for whatever you may need at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our country has a wide network of health centres and public hospitals that guarantee health care. Therefore, if you are a citizen of the EU (or of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland) we recommend that you carry out the necessary procedures to obtain the European Health Card so that you can benefit from the National Health System.
If you come from another country, confirm before your arrival if there is a health care agreement with Spain; otherwise, it will be compulsory for you to take out a private insurance that covers the medical expenses during your stay in our country - this is very important because without it you will not be able to apply for a study visa!
In case of emergency, you can call the free citizen assistance telephone number: 112
Living in a different country is a great leap, and surely the first thing you are thinking about is finding a place to live. Therefore, our advice is that you start searching as soon as possible so that you have more possibilities of finding the perfect accommodation for you.
Availability will vary depending on the type of home you are looking for, its location and your budget. So, for example, you may find it easier to find a room in a less central area of the city or in a private accommodation rather than in a student residence. In any case, don't worry, there are options for everyone - here are some of them!
If what you are looking for is a room in a flat or house, or even a whole flat or studio to rent, there are many real estate agencies in Spain that can help you. Prices may vary based on size, services included and location, but sharing a flat with other students is without a doubt one of the most fun options for your university years!
Beware of possible fraud: never send money electronically without having visited your accommodation and without having a signed contract, and make sure you read all the conditions before formalizing anything!
And remember that if you are an international student and have already enrolled in CEU UCH, you can benefit from our help service in your search for accommodation.
Another common option among students is to stay in a student residence. There are different sizes and price ranges, depending on the services they offer: some include restaurants, laundry, gym and even play areas.
The usual cost of a room in an average apartment is between € 180 and € 250, while residences can range from € 500 to € 650 per month. At this price, you must add an estimate of expenses to cover your stay in Spain: food, transport, communications, leisure... And, although Spain has an affordable cost of living in relation to other European countries, it is good that you estimate the average amount that you think you will need. Check out this calculator - it might help you!
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