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Spain: A slow higher education reform

On 15 January the supreme consultative body of the Spanish Government - the Council of State (Consejo de Estado) - has issued an opinion on the ambitious plan of the Ministry of Education to open the possibility for Spanish universities to offer three-year degree plus two years of master versus four years plus one currently in force.  The opinion of the Council of State - mandatory but not binding - expresses concerns for the short horizon of time by which the reforms are supposed to enter into effect (next September) and requests to postpone their implementation to allow the universities a more coordinated adjustment to the new system. In particular, the main objections raised are:

  • Coexistence of already two higher education systems: the pre-Bologna with the old bachelor degrees and the post-Bologna one that is the current 4 + 1 system;
  • The fact that a lack of stability in the regulation of the teachings in recent years prevent the achievement of quality education and the worries that the coexistence of the two models will generate confusion and uncertainties; 
  • The difficulties to assess the value of the titles in a situation where the same title has a different duration at a university and another.
  • The problem of qualification to regulated professional activities (architects, dentists, etc.)

The reform was announced in June 2014 by Education Minister José Ignacio Wert in order to harmonize with most of the countries in the European Higher Education Area (that offer three-year bachelor’s degree and two-year master’s) and in so doing to facilitate the internationalization of Spanish universities and students. Mr. Wert’s proposal is mainly supported by Catalonia while it received already the rejection of the Spanish Conference of University Rectors (CRUE).