Want to study in Spain but not sure where to start? This article gives you the facts.
One thing that is different about applying to Spanish public universities is that it all comes down to a single number, the nota acceso. There are no personal statements, no teacher references - just a single number that represents the scores from your national diploma turned into the Spanish national Bachillerato system. See this article to see how to convert your national diploma to the equivalent score in the Spanish system.
Aside from convalidating your credential to the Spanish Bachillerato system, you also need to apply directly to the university of your choice. The procedure for applying to university depends on the regional application system. It is recommended that you contact the university directly to confirm the following information:
- The acceptance of the UNED convalidation of your educational credential
- The acceptance of the UNED convalidation of specific subjects from your educational credential as the equivalent of PCE exams
- The procedure and timeline for long-distance application/registration for the particular university
Again, the specifics of this procedure are dependent on the region, and it is best to confirm the procedure with each public university directly as they may individually revise their entrance criteria and procedure as they see fit. However, all schools will ask for a signed and stamped copy of your transcript from your school (see the end of this article for an example!), so it is best to organize this in advance.
Our advice is to make sure to speak to someone at the university either by phone or email so they can advise you on the latest procedures and exactly what they are expecting and when, regardless of what you find (or don’t find!) on a university’s website or in their publications.
Each Spanish private school is essentially an independent entity and follows their own criteria and timelines for acceptance. It is crucial to contact the admissions department of each university you are applying to and ask for their procedure and dates when things must be submitted.
It is likely that you will need to submit a personal statement, a letter of recommendation and may even need to take an entrance exam.
- The personal statement and letter of recommendation usually do not follow any specific format, although the recommended outline for UK applications here on Unifrog is a good structure. The language your essay is written in should be the same language as the programme you are applying to is taught in.
- As for an admissions test, these may focus on particular math and language skills. Schools will provide information on the content and registration to take the exam. (You can see one example here: http://www.esade.edu/grados/eng/admision/test-admision/prueba-admision-esade)
The dates for acceptance into Spanish private universities is usually prior to the release dates of IB and A-Level results, so if you are taking these qualifications you will receive an offer or letter of acceptance based on your predicted grades. You should also confirm the date when you must give your notice of acceptance, as some private schools in Spain require your notice of acceptance, registration, and payment before the release date of IB and A-Level results.
It is also important to ask schools about their minimum entry requirements into programmes, as particularly business and science programmes require a specific level of math. All schools will ask for a signed and stamped copy of your transcript from your school, so it is best to organize this in advance.
Applying to university in Spain is not more difficult than applying to other countries.
If you are applying to public university, instead of having to spend time writing your personal statement or getting recommendations, you may be spending some time on the phone and sending emails to make sure that everyone has what they need by the correct date.
If all this seems like some serious calculations and paperwork, then you’ll see that Spain isn’t just vacationland, but a country with processes and procedures just like the one you left behind (but with probably more sun)!
If you are from outside of Spain, you also may find that the prices for tuition and living expenses are a fraction of what you would be paying at home! On the other hand, if you are applying to a private university, you may find the cost similar to public universities in the UK, but with a level of service in the application procedure at times akin to a concierge. Private Spanish universities are ultimately businesses in the business of education, and see their potential students as potential customers and sometimes it seems that the admission departments are staffed by the friendliest people that you will find in the country.
Written by Matt Tomich, Barcelona ES
Sample academic transcript, signed and stamped from a fictional school: