Education System Profiles
Spanish Education System
The Spanish education system is supported by the national government and the individual governments of each of the 17 autonomous regions in Spain. Elementary (primary) and middle (secondary) school in Spain are compulsory and free for all children between the ages of 6 to 16. After finishing secondary education, students will be awarded a graduation certificate, and will be able to proceed to higher education if they wish.
It is not difficult to understand the education system in Spain for it is largely comprehensive and efficient. The Spanish education system is accessible even if language barriers are present. In Spain, you will be able to find both, international as well as Spanish schools. Through the years, there have been certain changes in the education system in Spain, mainly consisting of an improvement in educational reforms, such as teaching, curriculum, infrastructure, and quality.
LEAP Global Educational Consultants is the #1 student consultancy for studies in Spain and provides end-to-end services and counselling for students and parents. LEAP offers guidance to students from the moment they decide to study abroad to local relocation support in Spain to finding a job after graduation, arranging all necessary legal permits along the journey.
In the below sections, you will find everything related to the education system in Spain, including the structure of the education system, facts about Spain’s education system, all the way to higher education.
Challenges and Problems in Education
Even though rampant government corruption was one of the main causes of the Euromaidan Revolution, the level of and tolerance for corruption in Ukraine remains high, according to the anti-corruption watchdog organization Transparency International, which considers corruption a systemic problem in Ukraine, ranking the country 120th out of 180 countries on its 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index. Of the Ukrainians surveyed by Transparency International shortly after the Euromaidan Revolution, about one-third viewed bribery as an acceptable way of resolving problems with government agencies. Likewise, 44 percent of respondents in a 2017 survey by the I. Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Ukrainian Sociology Service believed that corruption had increased since 2014, while only 4 percent believed it had decreased. Forty-four percent of respondents thought corruption was the biggest problem in the country, while an additional 35 percent considered it one of the most serious problems. A sizable share of respondents—39 percent—were doubtful that it was possible to overcome corruption in Ukraine at all. In 2015 the Guardian newspaper called Ukraine “the most corrupt nation in Europe.”
As in several other post-Communist countries, Ukraine’s education system is among the sectors most affected by corruption. Its manifestations range from bribery in admissions to examinations fraud, the misallocation of funds, extortion, ghost teachers, and dissertation plagiarism. While corruption is believed to be most rampant and quickly spreading in tertiary education, particularly in the competitive medical universities, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recently detailed similarly endemic problems in the Ukrainian school system, from preschool to upper-secondary levels. The effects are a loss of educational quality, the “leakage” of critical resources, and low public trust in the system. Externally, corruption and quality problems affect the international reputation of Ukrainian education. Alarmed by frequent reports of corruption in Ukrainian medical schools, Saudi Arabia, for example, no longer automatically recognizes Ukrainian medical degrees.
Demographic Decline and a Shrinking Education System
Alongside other Eastern European nations, Ukraine has one of the fastest shrinking populations in the world. Measuring the size of Ukraine’s population is complicated because of the 2014 Russian annexation of the Crimea and the loss of control over the eastern Donbas region’s oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk, but even before these developments the number of people in the country declined by 6.7 million between 1993 and 2013. Low birth rates, high mortality rates, large-scale outmigration, and other causes contributed to the decline. The UN projects that Ukraine’s population will decrease by another unprecedented 18 percent until 2050, from 44.2 million in 2017 to merely 36.4 million.
The effect on the education system has been huge. According to UNESCO statistics, the number of tertiary students in the country dropped from about 2.85 million in 2008 to 1.67 million in 2017—a decrease of more than 41 percent that has led to the closure of hundreds of higher education institutions (HEIs). The total number, including universities and other types of HEIs, declined from more than 1,000 in 1996 to 661 in the 2017/18 academic year, per government data. Given the current demographic trends, more closures are likely. In the school system, population decline and outmigration from villages and small cities recently caused the government to create community “hub schools” to pool resources and combine pupils from different schools.
Dated Curricula, Lack of University Autonomy, and Other Problems
Ukraine is among the most educated societies in the world with a tertiary gross enrollment ratio (GER) of 83 percent (2014, UNESCO). Yet, many view the country’s academic institutions as inflexible and out of touch with labor market demands and societal needs. In this view, Ukrainian society has an unhealthy obsession with theoretical university education at the expense of more employment-geared education and training. Youth unemployment is high (19.6 percent among 15- to 24-year-olds in 2018) and far above unemployment rates of the general working-age population.
Other problems stem from the legacy of the highly centralized, rigid system of the former Soviet Union. For example, Ukrainian universities generally lack autonomy and initiative. While there have been heightened attempts to increase flexibility, widen autonomy, internationalize education, and make curricula more employment-relevant in recent years, the implementation of the 2014 higher education law, which is designed to increase university autonomy, has thus far been sluggish. Prominent critics like Sergiy Kvit, Ukraine’s former education minister and current director of its National Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, have lamented that the reforms have failed to produce adequate changes, most notably in terms of financial autonomy of public universities. State universities remain dependent on the government in a variety of crucial areas, including salaries for university staff, funding of research, and infrastructure development.
Outbound Student Mobility
The war also had an apparent impact on student mobility patterns in Ukraine. While outbound student mobility has grown strongly in the country in general in recent years, it has accelerated even further since the conflict began in 2014. After doubling from 25,432 to 49,966 between 2007 and 2014, the number of degree-seeking Ukrainian students abroad has since spiked by another 54 percent to 77,219 in 2017, as per UNESCO. According to estimates by the Ukrainian think tank CEDOS, the number of outbound students further peaked to 83,000 in the 2017/18 academic year. The outbound mobility ratio, that is, the percentage of students enrolled abroad amongst all Ukrainian students, tripled since 2012 and stood at 4.6 percent in 2017 (UNESCO).
The swelling student outflows primarily go to neighboring countries. The number of Ukrainian degree students in Poland more than quadrupled between 2012 and 2016, from 6,110 to 29,253 students, making Poland the top destination for mobile students from Ukraine. Enrollments in Russia have also surged drastically and more than doubled within just a few years, from 10,702 in 2012 to 22,440 in 2016.
The Czech Republic, Italy, and the United States are the next most popular destination countries for degree-seeking students, according to UNESCO, although the total number of Ukrainian students in these countries is comparatively small—less than 7,000 students combined. Data gathered by CEDOS paint a slightly different picture in that Germany and Canada were the third- and fourth-largest destination countries with 9,638 and 3,245 students, respectively, in the 2016/17 academic year. 2
It is remarkable the extent to which Ukrainian students have shaped and come to dominate the international student population in key destination countries. More than half of all the international students in Poland, for instance, now come from Ukraine. In Bulgaria, Ukrainian students make up more than 30 percent of the international student body, language barriers notwithstanding.
Poland is an attractive destination for Ukrainian students not only because of its geographic proximity. The country affords Ukrainians an opportunity to pursue high-quality education, often at lower costs of study and living than in Ukraine—an important criterion since the majority of Ukrainian international students are self-funded. Poland also faces a shortage of skilled workers and seeks to retain Ukrainian students in the country after they graduate. Furthermore, Poland suffers from a similar demographic decline as Ukraine, which means that many Polish universities are assertively recruiting in Ukraine to compensate for the loss of domestic students. Study programs in Poland are increasingly offered in English, especially at the graduate level. Finally, the chance to earn a European qualification in an EU member state is a considerable lure for Ukrainian students, since it widens potential employment opportunities within the larger EU. It is highly common for Ukrainian international students to not return home after graduation—a trend that worsens Ukraine’s brain drain.
Trends in the U.S. and Canada
The number of Ukrainian students in the U.S. has grown in recent years but remains small when compared with other sending countries. According to the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors data, 1,928 Ukrainian students studied in the U.S. in 2017/18 compared with 1,490 in 2012/13 (an increase of 29 percent). A plurality of Ukrainian students (49 percent) are enrolled in undergraduate programs, while 33 percent study in graduate programs, 12 percent undertake Optional Practical Training, and 6 percent attend non-degree programs. In Canada, the number of Ukrainian students has been rising sharply amid the country’s surging popularity as an international study destination in recent years. The total number of Ukrainian students in the country, as reported by the Canadian government, spiked by 420 percent over the past decade, from 525 in 2008 to 2,730 in 2018.
university preparation – years 12 and 13
A level study
In the UK school system, once a student reaches the age of 16, they can start a 2 year programme which leads to A (Advanced) level examinations. Students specialise in 3 or 4 subjects, that are usually relevant to the degree subject they wish to follow at university. A levels are state examinations and are recognised by all UK universities and by institutions worldwide.
International Baccalaureate (IB)
Those who would like to study more than 3-4 subjects, may continue their studies in a broader number of subjects with the International Baccaularete Diploma Programme, offered by some independent schools.
During the IB, students study 6 subjects, 3 at higher level (HL) and 3 at standard level (SL). Each school offers different subjects at different study levels (HL/SL). The IB programme also includes a compulsory Core programme consisting of Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Extended Essay (EE) and Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS).
Qualifications of the German Higher Education System
Bachelor Degree – First German Higher Education Qualification
The first higher education qualification in Germany is the Bachelor degree. The standard period of study “Regelstudienzeit” in a Bachelor program is 6 semesters, or 3 full academic years. In Universities of Applied Sciences bachelor studies last 6-7 semesters, by also including the practical work. In German Colleges of Art and Music such studies last about 8 semesters or 4 academic years. In Professional Academies they last 3 academic years. In Fachschulen bachelor degree studies last 2 academic years.
Which Are the Offered Bachelor Degree Fields of Study in Germany?
Bachelor Study Fields in German Universities and Equivalent Institutions.
- Languages, Humanities and Sport.
- Archaeology and study of antiquity.
- Art studies/art history.
- Musicology/music history.
- Theatre studies/dramatic art.
- European and non-European languages and literature.
- Library science/documentation science/media studies.
- Social sciences.
- Administrative sciences.
- Political science.
- Computer science.
- Earth science.
- Human medicine.
- Veterinary medicine.
- Nutritional science.
- Civil engineering.
- Electrical engineering.
- Mechanical engineering.
- Chemical engineering.
- Traffic and transport studies.
- Environmental technology.
Bachelor Study Fields in German Universities of Applied Sciences.
Bachelor Study Fields in German Fachschulen.
Bachelor Study Fields in German Berufsakademien.
Magister Degree – Second German Higher Education Qualification.
The second higher education qualification in Germany is the Master degree. It takes 2 -4 semesters to complete studies in a German master degree program. In universities and equal institutions as well as college of art and music, this period is mostly 4 semesters. In Fachhochschulen this period is 3-4 semesters.
To complete a Master degree, students must achieve 300 ECTS credit points also including the points received by the earlier qualification. To complete a Master degree, a student whose earlier qualification is a Bachelor degree, must achieve 360 ECTS points.
German Higher Education Programs Outside the Bachelor and Master Level
Some German study courses are completed by sitting a Diplom examination on a single study subject, leading to a Diplom degree, i.e. Diplom in Psychology or Engineering. If the Diplom is issued by the University Applied Sciences, usually it contains the phrasing “FH” included.
Staatsprüfung – State Examination
For some study courses, a state examination must be undertaken to prepare students for a particular profession of importance to the public interest. This takes account for medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmaceutics, food chemistry, law and teaching (education).
Church and Academic Examination
For students having completed a 5-year study program in theology subject, they’ve to sit a Church and academic examination before landing themselves in the profession. This takes account of jobs as a priest or a pastoral assistant.
Postgraduate Study Courses – Supplementary and Follow-Up Study Courses
Meanwhile or afterward completing bachelor or master studies, there’s an option of taking up additional 2-year long studies in support to the existing studies, or to specialize in a specific study field. These are known as postgraduate study courses.
Examination of Colleges of Art and Music
PhD Degree – Third German Higher Education Qualification
The third higher education qualification in Germany is the PHD degree. This is a program that is embraced by the most qualified students, and can be taken at German universities and equivalent institutions, in collaboration with non-university research institutes.
Admission Requirements of the German Higher Education Institutions
- Higher Education Entrance Qualification. To get admitted in any study course in any higher education institution in Germany, applicants must possess either “The Allgemeine Hochschulreife” commonly referred as “Abitur” or “Fachgebundene Hochschulreife”, or a foreign school-leaving certificate comparable to any of these two.German university entrance qualifications are obtained by successfully completing 12/13 years of schooling of a German secondary school, including passing the secondary school final examination.Abitur can also be taken by sitting the Abitur examination, by non-pupils or employed people of particular intellectual ability.Internationals whose foreign secondary school-leaving certificate isn’t recognized in Germany for academic studies, they’ve to follow a one year preparatory course and sit the examination for recognition. They have to also present their foreign secondary school-leaving certificate, proof of having passed the university entrance examination in their home country (if applicable), proof of having been enrolled in such university (if applicable), evidence of having passed certain modules (if applicable).
- Admission Exam. Some higher education institutions in Germany, especially arts and sport also require for their applicants to sit an admission examination, for examination of their understanding and aptitudes in the core subjects of the study field.
- German language command (for international students only). Most of the German higher education institutions, especially those with German-study program, require from their international applicants to have a good knowledge of the German language.Proof of German language can be provided also during studies by any of the following ways:
- German Language Diploma of the Standing Conference – Level II (Deutsches Sprachdiplom der Kultusministerkonferenz – Zweite Stufe – DSD II).
- German Language Proficiency Examination for Admission to Higher Education for Foreign Applicants (Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang ausländischer Studienbewerber – DSH).
- Test of German as a Foreign Language for foreign applicants (Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache für ausländischer Studienbewerber – Test DAF)
- German language examination as part of the Feststellungsprüfung (assessment test) at a Studienkolleg.
- Alternative proofs for refugee students. Refugee students unable to get their foreign university entrance qualification in their home country are allowed to provide alternative documentation for university admission. One of the ways is to sit an entrance examination. Or, a German language assessment test and probably enroll in Studienkolleg before taking the assessment test for recognition.
German Higher Education Study Courses with Nationwide Quotas
For some German higher education study courses there are quotas, if the number of applications exceeds the number of the offered study places. In such case the Foundation for Higher Education Admission “Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung” (SfH) and the respective institution together admit and disregard applicants based on a central allocation procedure.
German Higher Education Study Courses with Local Restrictions on Admissions
SfH possesses a joint database that easily compares student applications. If the student has been accepted in another higher education institution, the database frees a study place that can be given to another student.
German Higher Education Study Courses Without Restrictions on the Number of Applicants
For some other German higher education study courses there’s no limit set on the number of students to be admitted. As such, all the applicants who can comply with the admission criteria can enroll in studies free from any pre-selection process.