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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Historical development


1.Political, social and economic background and trends

1.1Historical development

Last update: 22 December 2023

The current political situation derives from Spain’s Transition, a historical period during which a series of social and political reforms started and which culminates in the proclamation of the 1978 Constitution, moment that represents the change from a dictatorial regime to democracy. This Constitution defines Spain as a social and democratic State subject to the rule of law where parliamentary monarchy is established as the form of government.

In the 1980s, a milestone profoundly influenced subsequent political and social development: Spain entered the European Community, now the European Union. The process of integration culminated on 12 June 1985, when the Accession Treaty was signed, coming into effect on 1 January 1986.

The Spanish education system has its historical origins in the 1970 General Education Act, enacted during Franco’s time. It remained in force until 1985.

Once democracy had been established, the alternation in power between the two main political parties, the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) and the Partido Popular (People’s Party), resulted in legislative changes of greater or lesser intensity within non-university education:

  • the 5/1980 Act on the School Regulations, revoked;
  • the 8/1985 Act on the Right to Education (LODE), in effect since 1985;
  • the 1/1990 Act on the General Organisation of the Education System, revoked. With this law, compulsory schooling was extended from age 14 to 16;
  • the 9/1995 Act on Participation, Evaluation and Governance of Education Centres, revoked;
  • the 5/2002 Act on Qualifications and Vocational Training (LOCFP), revoked;
  • the 10/2002 Act on the Quality of Education, revoked without ever being put into effect;
  • the 2/2006 Education Act (LOE), in effect with modifications introduced by LOMLOE;
  • the 8/2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education, which modified the previous act (LOE). It is nowadays revoked;
  • the 3/2020 Act which modifies LOE (LOMLOE), in effect;
  • the 3/2022 Act on organization and integration of vocational training (LOOIFP), in effect.

Likewise, university education has undergone legislative changes that have led to the modernization of the university system in Spain and its adaptation to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), enhancing its international projection and interuniversity mobility. These changes are reflected in the following laws:

  • the 11/1983 Act on the University Reform (LRU), currently in force.
  • the 6/2001 Act on Universities (LOU), which has been repealed.
  • the 4/2007 Act amending the Act on Universities (LOMLOU), repealed except for its second and fourth final provisions.
  • the 2/2023 Act on the University System (LOSU), currently in force.

The organization of the administration and government at the central and regional levels of Spain constitute a decentralized state which resulted, in 1981, in a process of transfer of educational powers from the State General Administration (AGE) to the Autonomous Communities. This process ended in 2000.