Being a student in 2016 Vs 2017 in Spain – what has changed?

In today’s world, Spanish remains as the third most spoken language in the world behind only Mandarin Chinese and English. As a result, thousands of international students flock to Barcelona, Madrid, and many other locations in Spain in order to earn their degree. Above all else, this begs the question ‘what is student life like in Spain?’. Today, we want to take that one step further and assess what’s changing from one year to the next!

Catalan Independence – Beginning on a purely economic note, there is about to be an independence referendum in Spain for those in the Catalan region. Just as we saw Scotland do the same with the UK (ultimately failed) and the UK with Europe, Catalonia wants to leave Spain and this could have a big impact on student life. If the separation is confirmed, all involved will be hoping for a clean split but a messy divorce is just as likely.

For those in Catalonia, experts believe the region could flourish because it’s a rich region with excellent universities and fantastic research opportunities. Although opinions are divided somewhat, many experts claim that Catalan universities will thrive outside of Spain and this is great news for all current students. As universities are freed from the restrictive organisational laws, education can improve thus starting a cycle of positive results.

Increased Violence – Sadly, there is negative news in terms of violence with over 60% of university students claiming to have experienced it in some form. In particular, gender violence is a huge problem not only because it occurs far too frequently but because much of it goes unreported.

According to a recent report, 25% of all gender attacks that were reported were actually perpetrated by faculty. However, nine in ten attacks aren’t reported at all and experts believe this is because the victims are simply told their case wouldn’t be worth pursuing. Moving forward, the authorities are working on this issue so let’s hope they make progress soon.

Brexit – Each year, millions of Spaniards head to the UK and a significant amount of these are students. Whether it’s to further their studies, take a break, or work as part of an exchange program. However, the UK’s decision to leave the EU has put all three of these reasons in jeopardy. Although the UK hasn’t left the EU just yet, the process has already started and we are likely to see the introduction of a visa system just as we see with other non-EU countries. For students, this is frustrating and it could lessen the appeal of university education for some.

Positive Rankings – Finally, we will finish on a positive note and one that sees the Universidad Complutense de Madrid sit inside the 2017 Top 20 Universities in Europe. In the Top 50, Spain also has the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Universitat de Valencia, and Universitat de Barcelona; this is fantastic news for all students!