The University of Catalonia is the most expensive in Spain , a situation that will increase with the price increase announced for next September. This course, with the current prices, the students of the Catalan faculties pay more than their counterparts from the rest of Spain. Studying Political Science in Catalonia costs 909 euros per course – with the student enrolling in the 60 credits. On the other hand, to study the same career in one of the faculties of Madrid (with the exception of Complutense) costs 843 euros; in Galicia 591; in Navarra 906 (the one that comes closest in price); and in Canarias 517. Medicine in Catalonia – of the careers with greater demand and also more expensive – is 1,423.20 euros per year, while the same degree in the Basque Country, for example, costs 1,135.2 euros. The differences vary depending on the autonomous community.
The increase in fees for the next academic year has outraged the students, who are preparing mobilizations for this Thursday, coinciding with the summit of the European Central Bank. It has also provoked the rejection of the rectors, especially those of Catalonia. The Ministry of Education allows raising the price of tuition up to 66%, so that the student pays 25% of the actual cost of their studies instead of the current 15%, as Catalonia requested. The Secretary of Universities and Research has already said that it will increase the price until the student takes charge of between 20% and 25% of the cost of the race and in fact calculates the impact of the measure, counting that it increases the rates by 66 %, the maximum possible. This would keep Catalonia as the autonomy with the highest education in Spain, following the trend started in 2011.
This course Catalunya raised the rates by 7.6%, the largest increase in the last ten years. Thus, the price of credit in the cheapest careers (63 titles) is 15.16 euros, that of medium cost (81 titles) in 21.46 and that of high cost (10 titles) in 23, 72 The average price for cheap races in Spain is 12 euros per credit and the most expensive ones at 18.58 euros per credit. It is the autonomous community that decides how much the price of enrollment increases. The Secretary of Universities and Research argues in this regard that the Catalan university system “is the one with the highest quality in the State” and links the increase in fees to a better scholarship policy. This course Catalunya allocated 25% of the money entered with the price of tuition to grants (1.5 million). But next year, with a price increase of up to 66%, there will not be many more scholarships. These grants depend mainly on the Ministry of Education, which says that it will keep the same heading this year, but will toughen the access requirements, which will leave more students out. In addition, Education will only pay 15% of the total cost of enrolling the scholars. The rest (up to ten more points) will be borne by the communities. All this in a moment in which the unemployment continues runaway.
Catalonia has the most expensive university in Spain at the decision of its governors, but a smaller proportion of scholars than the Spanish average due to differences in the cost of living. Of all the scholars from Spain, Catalonia has only 11.8%, while its university population is 15%. Universitats i Recerca now calculates that if it raises the rates 66% – the most plausible scenario – will allocate some 30 million euros for scholarships. But of these, 23 million would go to cover the increase in the price of the enrollment of the almost 28,000 students who are already scholarships in Catalonia. Only 7 million euros would remain for new aid. The Secretary wants to appeal the decree of the Ministry to the Constitutional Court. As they argue in Universitats, it is the Ministry that has the responsibility to pay all the scholarships in full. “This way we could destine these 30 million euros to new scholarships, even we could create salary scholarships”, says Castellà. Another possibility to grant scholarships to more people would be for the Secretary to allocate more money to aid.
For now, what is certain is that Spain will create a new group in Europe in terms of university funding. A country where the price of tuition will be in line with the Netherlands, but where the percentage of recipients of some type of aid is around 25% -30%. In the Netherlands, with prices similar to those that Spain wants to implement, more than 90% of students enjoy a scholarship or public loan, according to the latest report of the OECD Education at a glance.
These days it has been heard that Spain must tend to the “European model” to justify the rate hike. But there is no such model. The diversity on the continent is enormous. In the Nordic countries and 14 of the 16 German Länder, university students pay almost nothing to go to university, although their tax system is more progressive than Spanish. In France, Switzerland, Austria or Belgium the rates are cheaper than in Spain, but have fewer scholarships; in the United Kingdom the rates are much higher – up to 9,000 pounds – but scholarships are allocated 0.3% of their GDP, compared to 0.1% Spanish – and 0.15% public loans.
Xavier Lucena, 22, is a third year of Nursing at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and practices in the Children’s Oncology service at the Vall d’Hebron hospital. In the last two years he has been granted a general scholarship from the Ministry of Education, which includes the full price of tuition and a small amount for travel and material. “What they pay me does not cover all the expenses, but it is an aid”, he says, although he is worried about the situation of the next course. “With all the cuts they are making, I do not know if they will give me the scholarship, so I will have no choice but to ask for a loan and cross my fingers to get it.” The first course, Xavier did not ask for help because in the university “nobody informed the students of this possibility”. It was his parents who helped him pay the first tuition, a possibility that at the moment is unfeasible: “My father is unemployed and the only salary that goes into the house is that of my mother”. Xavier’s promotion will be the first to graduate – until now, Nursing was a three-year diploma – but he does not know if he can complete the studies in the estimated four years. The insecurity of receiving a scholarship -or a loan-, together with the rise in the price of university credits, may force you to extend the years of study more than you wish. “I would know very badly, because until now I have taken the subjects up to date,” he laments.
Before studying Nursing, Xavier had completed a training course of dental hygienist and a few days ago had to reject a job in a dental clinic. The conditions were very good, but the workday, intensive and totally incompatible with the race. As a student of Nursing, you must do compulsory internships in different services and during different periods of the course, in addition to attending class. “The schedules are so changeable that it’s impossible to keep a job.” And is that since he started college has been forced to leave different positions to continue with studies.
Xavier’s situation is not unique. Some of his colleagues, like many other university students, can not combine studies with work either and so far they have been able to continue studying thanks to public aid.
At the moment, the price of the credit of the career of Nursing is of 23.72 euros, reason why the matrícula of the course 2011-2012 of Xavier ascended to the 1.423 euros. With the price increases announced by the Government, next year the course could reach 2,376 euros. “If the rates go up much more, it will end up being like an affiliated center,” says Xavier, while he pauses at the Vall d’Hebron hospital for a coffee. “We are going back in time, when some people did not study because of lack of resources.”
I know I’m privileged, “says Adrià García, 20, as he strolls through the campus of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). He studied 2nd year of Computer Engineering in this university and his enrollment cost, this year, 1,287.60 euros. He, however, did not have to take care of the payment. The registration was free, just like last year, and also receives 500 euros per month throughout the year, except for two months of summer vacation. Few students in Spain enjoy these conditions. The salary scholarships, through which the student receives a salary, are reserved in Spain to students with very low income.
The Ministry of Education launched these aids three years ago and in 2010-2011 – the last available data – 2.27% of university students accessed them. In total, 32,850 students were exempt from paying tuition and received up to 350 euros maximum – depending on family income – for each of the ten months of the course. Now, the Ministry will toughen the requirements to access these grants, so it is expected that fewer students can opt for them.
Adrià receives 500 euros because his scholarship is private. It is part of a program that the UAB maintains with Banco Santander, which is the one who puts the money. For three years, scholarships have been awarded to 20 students per year. To access this aid, the level of income must not exceed the limits set by the Ministry of Education to obtain a scholarship – for a family of four members, the family income must not exceed 38,800 euros per year in general scholarships, which they pay the tuition, although for public salary scholarships the threshold is lower. In addition, applicants for these private scholarships must have a high academic record. Participating in the Ithaca campus of the university – a program for high school students from the towns near the university – also scores.
Adrià fulfilled all the conditions. With an 8.7 high school transcript and a family income below the limit, he managed to enter the call. “If they had not given me this scholarship I would have tried with one of the ministry, because otherwise at home we would go something fair,” he says.
The help allows you to dedicate 100% to your career. “I do not have to work because the money they give me is like a part-time salary,” he says. In the first one he passed all the subjects with high marks, and this course will do it again. “If I had to work, my performance would not be the same, a salary scholarship allows you to be a better student and take less time to finish the degree,” he adds. Adrià has to approve all the credits each course to renew the aid. “It is normal that they demand us,” he says, “but governments should allocate more money to aid. Some students will not be able to continue at the university without a scholarship. “