International students find Spain to be quite an attractive study destination. This country has a well-organized educational system, numerous degree programs to choose from, and unmatched academic expertise. Studying in Spain has many advantages that international students tend to find appealing, such as the wonderful climate, the active and fun-packed lifestyle, and the numerous employment opportunities or simply opportunities to advance academically.
Spain has around 80 universities, among which the vast majority are public universities funded by the state, and the others are private universities. Some of the best universities in Spain are largely located in Madrid and Barcelona, but other areas have their share of universities as well. Many Spanish universities are ranked among the top worldwide universities, which means their academic expertise is recognized and valued around the globe.
Number of International Students in Spain
Spanish higher education institutions are highly sought after, not only by international students but national students as well. According to the latest statistics, the total number of students in higher education in Spain is 1,633,358. This includes both international students as well as national students in higher education, according to the Ministry of Education.
The total number of international students in higher education institutions in Spain is 208,366 (including students in mobility programs), according to the Ministry of Science and Innovation. This number has been on the increase during the last few years, considering that the appeal of studying abroad is constantly increasing for international students.
Statistics from the academic year 2019/2020 show that foreign students enrolled in Spanish universities consist of a total of 208,366 students, out of which 55,277 are international students in mobility programs. This number is for both public and private universities and both, male and female, international students.
International Students in Spain Through the Years
Through the years, Spain has shown to increase in popularity among international students. Higher education institutions in Spain have always shown a great level of success, which is what has made them so appealing to students worldwide. The statistics below show how the number of international students in Spanish higher education is increasing:
- In the academic year 2015/2016, there were 153,193 international students in Spanish universities.
- In the academic year 2016/2017, there were 166,963 international students in Spanish universities.
- In the academic year 2017/2018, there were 185,145 international students in Spanish universities.
- In the academic year 2018/2019, there were 194,743 international students in Spanish universities.
- In the academic year 2019/2020, there were 208,366 international students in Spanish universities.
Note: The number of international students in Spanish universities also includes students in mobility programs, such as Erasmus.
Statistics show that in a matter of 3 years, international student numbers in Spain have increased, more specifically there is a percentage increase of approximately 12%. Only in the latest years, from 2019 to 2020, the number of international students has increased by approximately 7%.
It seems quite evident that international students have a growing interest in the qualifications that educational institutions in Spain have to offer. But not only is Spain excellent in its quality of education and qualifications, but it is also a place where students get to thrive in their careers and showcase their talents. It is basically a destination full of opportunities to advance.
International Students in Mobility Programmes in Spain
Mobility programs, such as Erasmus, are also quite popular among international students who want to experience what it is like to study abroad. Spain also has its fair share of intl students who arrive on the pursuit of such programs. The number of international students in Spain enrolled in mobility programs, in the past few years, is:
- In 2015/2016 there were 51,253 international students in mobility programs in Spain.
- In 2016/2017 there were 52,663 international students in mobility programs in Spain.
- In 2017/2018 there were 57,548 international students in mobility programs in Spain.
- In 2018/2019 there were 56,829 international students in mobility programs in Spain.
- In 2019/2020 there were 55,227 international students in mobility programs in Spain.
The above statistics show that even mobility programs are receiving an increase in popularity. From 2015/2016 to 2017/2018, the number of international students in these programs has increased by approximately 12%. However, in the latest years, within a period of one year apart, mobility programs have received a decrease of approximately 2%.
International Students in Spain by Country of Origin
Spain receives international students from all over the world. Ambitious students from around the globe come to Spain to pursue their qualifications and start their careers. From Italy to Finland, Spain gathers numerous nationalities and cultures in its educational institutions, all with the goal of pursuing the knowledge, skills, and qualifications that Spain has to offer.
The top 5 countries bringing the most international students to Spain, according to the latest statistics are:
The top 5 countries bringing the least international students to Spain, according to the latest statistics are:
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In the past 4-5 years, Italy has been the biggest importer of international students in Spain. In the academic year 2015/2016, the number of international students from Italy who enrolled in higher education institutions in Spain was 17,810, only to increase by 20% four years later. In addition, in 2015 there were no students from the Republic of Moldova in Spain, only to increase to 508 in 2020.
International Students in Spain by Field of Study
The majority of international students in Spain are interested in fields like Engineering, Management and Administration, Languages, Humanities, Law, or Health Sciences. However, the number of international students in Spain is distributed among all study fields available in Spanish public and private universities.
There are international students in Spain at all levels of study. A bachelor’s degree program at a Spanish university typically lasts around 3-4 years, while a master’s program lasts 1-2 years depending on the study field. For those who are interested in getting their PhD in Spain, the duration of a doctoral degree program is 3-4 years.
International Students in Spain by Sex
According to the latest statistics, there are more female than male international students pursuing their qualifications in Spain. The total number of female international students in Spanish universities (including mobility programs) is 121,800. The number of male international students in Spanish higher education institutions is 86,566.
During the past five years, Spain has always received a larger number of female international students, compared to male international students, in its universities.