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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
National reforms in higher education


14.Ongoing reforms and policy developments

14.4National reforms in higher education

Last update: 13 March 2024

Higher education consists of: 


Draft Law on Artistic Education

The Council of Ministers has approved the Draft Law on Artistic Education, which will impact over 140 000 students, 14 000 teachers, and a sector employing 690 000 individuals, representing 3.3% of the country's GDP. The text reflects significant consensus among different political forces and the sector, which has been awaiting a basic regulatory framework for these educational programmes for many years. The key innovations presented in this upcoming legislation include:

  • Homologation to the European Higher Education Area: Higher artistic education will be aligned with the European university system, facilitating mobility for students and professionals.
  • Equivalence of Professional Artistic Education: Professional artistic education will be aligned with the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications, and thus integrate into the new Vocational Education system.
  • Dual Modality and Recognition of Competences: The dual modality for training is introduced, allowing for internships in companies, and recognition and accreditation of competences for sector workers are facilitated.
  • Scholarships for Higher Artistic Education Students: Students in higher artistic education can receive scholarships under conditions similar to university students, including the payment of tuition fees.
  • Support of Research Activity among Teaching Staff: Research activity and contributions to artistic creation by public school teaching staff are encouraged.
  • Creation of New Teaching Positions: Four new teaching positions are established (professors and chair professors of Higher Education; and professors and chair professors of Professional Education), with voluntary integration and a comprehensive transitional schedule.
  • Creation of New Audio-visual Education: Introduction of new audio-visual education programmes.
  • Increased Pedagogical and Organisational Autonomy: Centres offering these programmes will have greater autonomy and can associate to create 'Campuses of the Arts.'

The law addresses a longstanding and widespread demand for regulation within the sector. Key associations and federations in the artistic field, unions, autonomous communities, student associations, teachers, and institutions, along with other Ministries, have participated in the development process.


National Open Science Strategy

The Council of Ministers has recently approved the first National Open Science Strategy for the period between 2023 and 2027, and developed by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities. This Strategy values science as a common good and establishes open access to research results financed with public funds, complying with and developing the new Science, Technology and Innovation Law.

The aim of this strategy is to strengthen the quality, transparency and reproducibility of scientific activity in Spain, improve dissemination among scientific personnel and society, and design the ways in which our country responds to the challenges the Spanish scientific community.

The Strategy is aligned with the set of measures and policies promoted by the European Union to move towards a research model based on the open publication of research results and data.

Modernization of doctoral degrees

In July 2023, Royal Decree 576/2023, which modifies several previous regulations on doctoral degrees, was passed. This initiative responds to the need to adapt the regulatory framework to the transformations that have occurred in society and in university education in recent years. The main aim of this modification is to update the regulation of the third cycle of official university studies, focusing on the acquisition of competences and skills related to quality scientific research. Among the main measures adopted in this Royal Decree are:

  • update of the regulation of doctoral degrees;
  • establishment of counselling and personal formative plan in doctoral schools to guarantee adequate integration of students and supervision of the doctoral thesis;
  • extension of the maximum duration of doctoral studies, both full-time and part-time, with the possibility of a one-year extension;
  • inclusion of measures for the supervision and evaluation of the doctoral thesis, such as reports by external experts and a balanced composition of the evaluating boards;
  • regulation of access and admission requirements, international and industrial mentions in doctoral degrees, thesis under joint supervision and the Extraordinary Doctorate Award.

This Royal Decree, strengthens internationalization of university studies, promotes connection with social needs and the global environment, and well as Open Science and Citizen Science. Likewise, the quality and autonomy of universities is guaranteed, which will reinforce the acquisition of research skills and interdisciplinarity in university studies.

New Law 2/2023 on the Universitary System (LOSU)

On April 12, 2023, Law 2/2023 of the University System (LOSU) enters into force. This new law proposes numerous measures, among which the most remarkable are:

  • to guarantee the quality of university studies and teaching staff;
  • to reduce the temporality of professors, from 40% in the previous legislation to 8%;
  • to improve the conditions and status of associate professors;
  • to create the figure of substitute professor;
  • to commit for a minimum expenditure of 1 % of GDP at the University;
  • to establish a maximum in university fees. The Autonomous Communities shall set the amount in accordance with the general principle of progressively containing or lowering prices;
  • to promote lifelong learning;
  • to improve the lengths of times of the academic career for teaching and research staff to encourage their stabilisation;
  • to develop new qualitative and quantitative professor assessments;
  • to increase the transparency in all public processes for professor positions where the organising university will be in the minority and the members will be chosen by lot;
  • to promote the internationalisation of the university system, partnerships and joint degrees;
  • to create the figure of Distinguished Professorship to attract professors of academic and research prestige, both national and foreign;
  • to guarantee an equal and inclusive university;
  • to promote of student participation.

In short, LOSU marks the horizons towards which Spanish universities must go, increasing their autonomy and giving them the necessary tools to face the changes that are taking place in society. The university system as a whole is strengthened to face the new challenges:

  • adapting the perspectives in financing, in innovation and revaluation of teaching;
  • delving into the transfer of knowledge to society;
  • setting the path for democratising access to the university, in terms of rights and university autonomy.

Scholarships and study aids for the course 2023-2024

The budget of scholarships and study grants has reached its historical maximum for the next year. In particular, EUR 2 520 million will be allocated to scholarships and study grants. It is the fifth consecutive year that has increased its funding. Since 2018, the budget has increased by 70 %.

All information on requirements, deadlines, amounts and procedures to be eligible for these scholarships and grants are available on the scholarship website of the MEFD and the  Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities. The goal is to centralise information and make it more accessible. The deadline to apply for general scholarships begins on March 27 and ends on May 17.


Draft Law on the University System

In June 2022, the Council of Ministers has approved the preliminary draft of the Law of the University system. The document includes the commitment of a minimum expenditure on universities of 1% of GDP. Associate teaching staff positions will be stabilized, making them permanent positions, thus reducing temporary employment from the current 40% to 8%. In addition, measures will be incorporated to promote and improve the working conditions of teaching and research staff (PDI). Likewise, this future regulation pursues an international university and for all ages, two fundamental lines of work in the Law for the future of universities. Therefore, this law will offer universities the tools to properly adapt to current changes.

Royal Decree Law that facilitates permanent contracts in the Public Science System

In April 2022, the Council of Ministers approved Royal Decree-Law 8/2022, which facilitates indefinite contracts in the Public Science System. Specifically, the Royal Decree Law introduces a permanent contract modality linked to the development of scientific-technical activities for all types of research personnel within the framework of strategic lines of research.

The  Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities have promoted this measure with the aim of providing greater stability to professional careers in public institutions in the field of R&D&I, such as universities, research centres, foundations and consortiums.

This contractual figure, which includes the singularities of the R+D+I system, is not subject to the limits of the public employment offer or to the replacement rates.

In addition, these contracts of indefinite duration will not require prior authorization if their financing is external or comes from calls on competitive basis. In the event that the research group continues with funding, the contracts may be extended without the need for a new contract.

University coexistence law

The university coexistence Law 3/2022, published in February, lays the foundation to reformulate the university coexistence framework, highlighting the exercise of the liberties and fundamental rights, and guaranteeing equality. Autonomous Communities and the universities will develop it later.

With this new law, all universities are required to have coexistence laws that bring in mediation mechanisms as the preferred way to resolve conflicts, as well as prevention and response measures against violence, discrimination or bullying.

Moreover, the universities must create a Coexistence Commission, that must be parity and formed by representers of students, teaching and investigating staff, and the administration and services staff.

Furthermore, a new offence and sanction system is defined for students, with the largest guarantees and the possibility to change sanctions, in some cases, into educational or recovery measures, highlighting the own values of the university scope.
This law forms a new framework for university coexistence, along with democratic principles, and the full exercise of the fundamental rights and basic liberties, among which are demonstration, assembly, gathering, and strike for all the university tiers.

Organization of university education and the procedure of its quality assurance

The purpose of the Royal Decree 822/2021 is the establishment of the organization and structure of university education, starting from the general principles that define the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Simultaneously, it sorts the official academic offer and the offer of other qualifications, especially the ones that are related to the permanent training. It also regulates the specific curricular structures, and the external academic internships that universities could add to their study programmes.

Similarly, it sets the quality assurance’s directions, conditions, and procedures of the study plan whose promotion lets the obtaining of official university qualifications with validity in all national territory. Said procedures are specified in the verification of the study programmes as a requisite for the initial certification of the qualification and the inscription in the Universities, Centres and Qualifications Register (UCTR), as well as the certification following, modification and renovation already granted.

Continuation of the reform of the scholarship and study aid policy

Royal Decree 154/2022 establishes the income threshold, family wealth, and grants and aids for education in the academic year 2022-2023. Moreover, it partially modifies Royal Decree 1721/2007 in which the grants and aids for study regime are established.

This law reviews the timetables and deadlines for submitting applications and the phases of the scholarship management process so that most applicants can know before the start of the academic year 2022-2023, whether they will be eligible for a scholarship. Likewise, it completes the reduction of the grades required to obtain a grant for master's studies, which was introduced in the academic year 2021-2022, extending this reduction in the required grade to studies leading to the award of non-qualifying master's degrees.

These changes in the grants and study aids system show a firm commitment to the social dimension of education and to the promotion of a grant policy that guarantees that no one abandons their post-compulsory studies for economic reasons, thus ensuring social cohesion, equity and equal opportunities.

Relaxation of the requirements to provide vocational training

The purpose of Royal Decree 62/2022 is to relax the requirements to provide professional training offers leading to obtaining vocational training qualifications, professional certificates and other formative offers linked to the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications. Likewise, it aims to advance in the expansion and flexibility of the vocational training offer.

This norm applies to high schools, both public and private, duly authorized, which offer vocational training qualifications, professional certificates and other formative offers related to the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications. In this respect, it complements and expands the assumptions provided for in Royal Decrees 34/2008 and 1147/2011 as requirements for the offer of vocational training.