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Degree Structures (Spain)

Bologna was not implemented in Spain until 2010 in most of the cases. This led to a quick implementation without adequate analysis of the situation which would have facilitated better options and solutions towards all the changes that have been made. At this point, Spain chose to change from a mixed model* to a final distribution of a first cycle of 240ECTS which would allow graduates to enter the labour market, and a 60-120 ECTS second cycle or master degree.

In January 2015, the Spanish government passed a law which changed the structure of HE cycles and degree structure, shifting from a 240ECTS+(60-120)ECTS (4 years of bachelor and 1, 1,5 or 2 years of master commonly known as 4+1) structure to a (180-240)ECTS+(60-180)ECTS (commonly known as a 3+2). In total, first and second cycles have to add 300ECTS. This measure affects all HE Institutions, both private and public and excludes regulated professions which in Spainincludes engineering, medicine and architecture, among others. It gives university total autonomy to change their studies.

  • Careers could be one cycle degree of 5 years or 3 years or a two cycle model with three years degree + two years as a second cycle. Both careers could enter then to a master degree and then to a doctorate.

The most important impact on students is the increase in tuition fees. In Spain, master degree tuition fees are at least two times more expensive than bachelor’s degree for non-regulated professions. The fees vary depending on the autonomic regions as the autonomic governments have the delegation of the educational competences from the central government. In this case, it’s the autonomic government who decide the fees always according to the limits and specifications that the central government marks. With this measure, access to HE will be limited to the general population of students, especially the underrepresented groups and families with low socio economic backgrounds.

Another impact is that degrees or masters with the same competences may have different durations, creating a huge confusion among students and employers. There will be in less than three years, graduates of 3, 4 and 5 year bachelors of the same study field or career.

A broader impact is the amount of public expenditure that will have to be reinvested to evaluate the quality of each change or new degree. The 4+1 structure was adopted nearly 6 years ago, and Spanish authorities have not been able to perform a proper assessment of the results and outcomes of this decision because some cycles have not yet been totally implemented. So, all the resources spent in implementing initially Bologna will have been useless because there was no initial analysis of the previous system which would have made available choosing better options and solutions towards all the changes that have been made.

To finish, the structural reforms have been made regardless of the involvement of students in decision-making.
The relation with the Bologna Process lies in the fact that the Spanish Government has used the Bologna Process and the harmonization with Europe, as the main pretexts to implement this structural changes and measures.

The relation with the Bologna Process lies in the fact that the Spanish Government has used the Bologna Process and the harmonization with Europe, as the main pretexts to implement this structural changes and measures.

Our solution is to delay the enactment of this policy for at least 3 years, so that we can have time to learn from the successes and mistakes of the 4+1 system. The other important solution is to reduce the value of master’s degrees tuition fees to at least the same price as bachelors.