Higher education in Spain
There are 76 universities in Spain, most of which are supported by state funding. 24 Spanish universities are private, of which 7 are affiliated with the Catholic Church.
Former degrees were:
- Licenciatura or ingeniería, can last four, five or six years.
- Diplomatura or ingeniería técnica, degree courses of shorter duration, 3 years.
The origins of higher education in Spain date back to Al-Andalus, the period of Islamic rule. Madrasahs were established in the Andalusian cities of Córdoba, Seville, Toledo, Granada (Madrasah of Granada), Murcia, Almería, Valencia and Cádiz during the Caliphate of Córdoba.
Problems of definition make it difficult to date the origins of universities. The first medieval European universities were simply groups of scholars, the word "university" being derived from the Latin universitas, meaning corporation. Nonetheless, the University of Palencia appears to have been the oldest university in Spain, while the University of Salamanca (Universidad de Salamanca) is the oldest existing Spanish university. Founded in 1218, during a period of expansion that had begun in the 11th century, this University is considered to be one of the oldest in Western Europe. The university was founded as a "General School of the kingdom" by King Alfonso IX of León in 1218 so that the Leonese people could study at home without having to leave for Castile.
The reign of Ferdinand, King of Aragon, and Isabella I, Queen of Castile, saw a professionalisation of the apparatus of government in Spain, which led to a demand for men of letters (letrados) who were university graduates (licenciados), especially of Salamanca and Alcalá de Henares. These men staffed the various councils of state, including, eventually, the Consejo de Indias and Casa de Contratacion, the two highest bodies in metropolitan Spain for the government of the Spanish Empire in the New World.
Many of the medieval universities in Western Europe were born under the aegis of the Catholic Church, usually as cathedral schools or by papal bull as Studia Generali. In the early medieval period, most new universities were founded from pre-existing schools, usually when these schools were deemed to have become primarily sites of higher education. Many historians state that universities and cathedral schools were a continuation of the interest in learning promoted by monasteries.
In Europe, young men proceeded to university when they had completed their study of the trivium–the preparatory arts of grammar, rhetoric, and logic–and the quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. (See degrees of Oxford University for the history of how the trivium and quadrivium developed in relation to degrees, especially in anglophone universities).
By the end of the Spanish Golden Age (1550–1650), the academic quality of all Spanish universities had declined. Professors and students rarely attended classes, degrees were awarded with less frequency, and their prestige receded.
The University of Salamanca, founded by King Alfonso IX of Leon in 1218 is the world's 8th oldest university. The oldest existing universities both in Asia (University of Santo Tomas) and the Americas (University of Santo Domingo) were founded by Spanish religious orders in the 16th century.
Admission to the Spanish university system is determined by the nota de corte (literally, "cutoff grade") that is achieved at the end of the two-year Bachillerato, an optional course that students can take from the age of 16 when the period of obligatory secondary education (Educación Secundaria Obligatoria, or ESO) comes to an end. A number between 1 and 10, the nota de corte is a combination of the grade achieved from the Bachillerato exams which the students take at school, and the average grade (nota de media) obtained from the university selection exam (commonly known as la Selectividad but officially named "Prueba de Acceso a la Universidad" or PAU) that the students will take at the local university.
The most popular courses at public universities demand the highest nota de corte, while for private universities cost is normally the factor that determines which course a student will follow (that is, the most popular courses are inevitably the most expensive).
There are several rankings for Spanish Universities. The best known ones are the Shanghai Jiao Tong, QS and THE Ranking. These are international rankings, however, there are also some national rankings comprisng the "50 carreras" (50 degrees) from the "El Mundo" newspaper, the CSIC or the IAIF ranking of the UCM.
National Rankings 
IAIF Ranking 
It was published in 2009 and was said to be the best Spanish ranking ever. It was done by the Instituto de Análisis Industrial y Financiero (Industrial and Financial Analysis Institute) of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and ranked the 69 Spanish universities:
|1||Universidad de Navarra||100,00||100,00||100,00|
|2||Universidad de Córdoba||60,90||63,96||62,46|
|3||Universidad Rovira i Virgili - Tarragona||53,24||70,66||62,12|
|4||Universidad de Oviedo||57,32||66,36||61,93|
|5||Universidad de Santiago de Compostela||58,34||64,75||61,61|
|6||Universidad de Salamanca||78,82||40,98||59,53|
|7||Universidad de Granada||64,40||54,76||59,48|
|8||Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona||57,76||57,68||57,72|
|9||Universitat de Barcelona||55,60||58,90||57,28|
|10||Universitat Pompeu Fabra||51,43||62,71||57,18|
50 Carreras (El Mundo) 
It is a well known ranking in Spain and it is published every year by the national newspaper "El Mundo".
International Rankings 
QS Ranking 
Published annually since 2004, QS World University Rankings® is one of the most complete and trusted university ranking in the world.
Shangai Ranking 
The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) is first published in June 2003 by the Center for World-Class Universities (CWCU), Graduate School of Education (formerly the Institute of Higher Education) of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, and updated on an annual basis. Despite its prestige, many people criticize them because they don't take into account the size of the universities for their rankings.
List of public universities 
- Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea / Universidad del País Vasco
- Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
- Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
- Universidad Complutense de Madrid
- Universidad de Alcalá
- Universidad de Alicante
- Universidad de Almeria 
- Universidad de Burgos
- Universidad de Cádiz
- Universidad de Cantabria
- Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha
- Universidad de Córdoba
- Universidad de Extremadura 
- Universidad de Granada
- Universidad de Huelva
- Universidad de Jaén 
- Universidad de La Laguna
- Universidad de La Rioja 
- Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
- Universidad de León 
- Universidad de Málaga
- Universidad de Murcia
- Universidad de Oviedo
- Universidad de Salamanca
- Universidad de Sevilla
- Universidad de Valladolid
- Universidad de Zaragoza
- Universidad Internacional de Andalucía
- Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo
- Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia
- Universidad Pablo de Olavide 
- Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena 
- Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
- Universidad Pública de Navarra
- Universidad Rey Juan Carlos
- Universidade da Coruña
- Universidade de Santiago de Compostela
- Universidade de Vigo
- Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona 
- Universitat d'Alacant 
- Universitat de Barcelona
- Universitat de Girona 
- Universitat de les Illes Balears
- Universitat de Lleida
- Universitat de València
- Universitat Jaume I de Castelló
- Universitat Miguel Hernández d'Elx
- Universitat Oberta de Catalunya 
- Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
- Universitat Politècnica de València
- Universitat Pompeu Fabra
- Universitat Rovira i Virgili 
List of private universities 
- Universidad de Deusto / Deustuko Unibertsitatea
- Mondragon Unibertsitatea
- Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio
- Universidad Antonio de Nebrija
- Universidad Camilo José Cela
- Universidad Cardenal Herrera - CEU 
- Universidad Católica de Valencia San Vicente Mártir
- Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia 
- Universidad Católica Santa Teresa de Jesús de Ávila 
- Universidad de Navarra
- Universidad Europea de Madrid
- Universidad Europea Miguel de Cervantes 
- Universidad Francisco de Vitoria
- International University of La Rioja
- Universidad Pontificia Comillas
- Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca
- Universidad San Jorge
- Universidad San Pablo-CEU 
- IE University
- Universitat Abat Oliba CEU 
- Universitat de Vic
- Universitat Internacional de Catalunya 
- Universitat Ramon Llull
- Valencian International University 
See also 
- Education in Spain
- List of universities in Spain (organised by autonomous community)
- "education", Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008, retrieved 2008-09-30