There are 59 universities in Spain, including several Catholic and private institutions of higher education.
Admission to faculties, advanced technical schools and university colleges is based on the Prueba de Aptitud para a la Universidad (national university entrance exam). The exam is held each June. Because of the huge demand for higher education in Spain and the limited number of places, students with low score may not be admitted to the school of their choice, or even gain university entrance at all.
Several universities and business schools, such as the Escuela Superior de Administracion y Direccion de Empresas (ESADE), currently offer master's programs in business administration. There are several bilingual and English-language programs, and some business degrees are being offered jointly with the traditional licenciado. Although some of these programs are not formally recognized by the Ministry of Education, many enjoy solid international reputations.
Citizens from the European Union do not need a visa for Spain. With a valid Identification Card or passport, they can stay as long as they want. However, citizens from all other countries will require a visa stamped in their passport if they wish to remain in Spain longer than 90 days
Regarding Visas, the Spanish Consulate in New York has posted this information in their Web site:
A student visa is mandatory for any foreigner wishing to study in Spain for 3 months or longer. Citizens of other countries can travel to Spain without a visa for tourist or business purposes for up to 90 days, after which time a visa is required. The visa is processed in your country of residence prior to your departure. You cannot get the visa in Spain, and you cannot have it sent to you. The visa is affixed in your passport before you depart your country, and must be presented at the border Officials upon your entry into Spain.
All student visas are valid for a period of 90 days from your entry day into Spain, during which time you must contact the local authorities to acquire a student residency card. This "Spanish Student Residency Card" is then valid for as long as you are enrolled in the program in Spain.
Due to the overwhelming demand for student visas, it is important that you allow enough time for the Consulate to process your visa. On specially busy days at the Consulate, it is occasionally impossible to attend to all the applicants, so it is best to arrive early. Personal appearance is required in order to submit the documentation. We understand that this is difficult for some students. You must present the following documents:
o Passport valid for a minimum of 6 months. Make sure your passport is signed.
o 4 recent pictures, passport size (stapled on each copy of the application)
o Original letter addressed to this Consulate General verifying enrolment as a full-time student in an official University or School in Spain, and verification of full payment of tuition. This is not the letter of acceptance that says: "congratulations you have been accepted....." This must be a separate letter directed to this Consulate General of Spain, verifying your enrolment and payment of tuition.
o Medical certificate. This is a letter typed on your doctor's stationary verifying that you are in good health, free of contagious disease, drug addiction or mental illness. These items must be specified in the letter, and a medical doctor must sign it.
You must also submit one of the following items to guarantee living expenses while in Spain:
o Letter from the study abroad program assuming full financial responsibility for tuition, room and board for the student during his stay in Spain. For many students this information is included on the previously mentioned letter of acceptance.
o An account in a Spanish bank with a minimum balance of $350.00 per month of stay in Spain.
o Proof of having received financial aid or scholarship covering expenses for tuition, room, board, and personal expenses during the stay in Spain (minimum of $350 per month).
o Letter from parents assuming full financial responsibility for at least $350 per month of stay in Spain.
Plan your trip ahead of time! Be advised that answer to your application might take several weeks depending on each case.
Find the Consulates of Spain in your country. www.tuspain.com/emb/emb.htm
The Spanish university system dates back to the Middle Ages. The oldest among Spanish Universities is Salamanca, founded in 1218. The present system, however, is actually descendant of the 19th century liberal university, inspired by the centralized French model. In the last years, it has experienced its greatest growth in history, while at the same time advancing towards a self-governing and descentralized system.
Higher education is provided by both public and private institutions. Universities are divided into departamentos, facultades universitarias, escuelas tecnicas superiores, escuelas universitarias, institutos universitarios, and other centres, notably the colegios universitarios.
The institutions offer official master programmes and non official master programmes. Official masterprogrammes are recognized and accredited by the Spanish government and allow for a PHD afterward. The non official masters are not recognized by the government. Non official masters are provided by the so-called fundacio's or foundations.
The Ministry of Education with the departments of higher education in the universities coordinates the activities of state and private institutions and proposes the main lines of educational policy. The Consejo de Universidades sets up guidelines for the creation of universities, centres and institutes. It can also propose measures concerning advanced postgraduate studies, the defining of qualifications to be officially recognized throughout the country and standards governing the creation of university departments. The legislation on university autonomy provides for administrative, academic and financial autonomy.
The Ley de Reforma Universitaria (LRU) gave rise to a renewal of the existing plans of study, presently intermediate degrees (three years) and superior degrees (five years, six for medicine) which are being replaced by two different types of studies: those of the single cycle, which will run for three years and are directly professional; and those of three cycles in some cases, receiving diplomas which are professionally valid; the B.A.'s (always with various specialties) and the doctorate (two years and a final thesis).
In certain studies, the student will be able to pass from the short cycle to the bachelor's degree with a new major after a course of transition. In addition to the doctorate, in many faculties, such as medicine, there are areas for specialization and at present, there are many types of master's degrees for graduates in law and economics.
The basic unit of plans of study include required subjects grouped in courses that the students will have to follow consecutively and elective courses. The courses taken may be mainstream courses (at 30% of the total in the first cycle or 25% in the second), which are those that the University Councils declare obligatory; or electives, chosen freely by the student (at least 10% of the total).
For more excellent information on studying in Spain, see the Getting to know Spain article, by Fundacíon Universdad.es
Source / for more information, www.spainexchange.com/student_info/student_services.php