Spain is one of the cheapest countries. If the average price in Europe is 100, the cost in Spain is 88. Spain is also among the European countries with the lowest price variation. The difference in price for the same food or toiletry product between the most expensive and the cheapest retail outlet is 19%. In Norway, however, the difference can be as high as 57%, in Sweden 47% and in Italy and Portugal up to 41%. For a university student, the comparative advantage of studying in Spain is considerable in financial terms, as can be seen in the table below. The average cost of tuition fees charged by universities in the United States (30,000 dollars) would cover the entire cost of living in Spain for a year (a university residence in Madrid, including accommodation and meals, costs less than 800 euros per month, and average tuition fees in a private university are around 6,000 euros).
Spain is situated on the Iberian Peninsula in South-West Europe. Spanish territory also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the African coast, and two autonomous cities in North Africa that border Morocco (Ceuta and Melilla). Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe and is one of the main tourist destinations worldwide. It has a population of 45 million people.
The landscape is extraordinarily varied, ranging from desert-like areas to lush, green pastures where mountains, valleys, rivers and beaches produce a wide variety of microclimates, which also contribute to its extraordinary beauty. Spain experiences all four seasons and has a generally temperate climate. Its location makes it one of the warmest countries in Europe and winter temperatures are generally mild.
Spain's unique culture is the product of a heritage enriched by the many external influences which it has been subjected to over the course of its long history. The geographic location of the Iberian Peninsula makes it a natural bridge between the cultures of the north and south of Europe, America, Africa and the East. History has made it a meeting point for many different cultures, creating a rich and diverse cultural legacy in which an intense past is evident.
Spanish is the mother tongue of over 400 million people around the world and is the official language of 20 countries. Sharing a common language has, without doubt, made Spain a particularly attractive destination for Latin American and Hispanic and Spanish-speaking students from the United States. Spain is also one of the most popular destinations for learning Spanish as a foreign language, particularly in the case of English speakers from the United States and Asia who want to learn Spanish, and students from other European Union countries. Indeed, Spain is the first destination in Europe for ERASMUS students (main students exchange European programme).
Spain's education system offers a wide range of college and university studies at all levels, as well as internationally renowned business studies at prestigious schools, and the best opportunities for the studying of Spanish as a foreign language, with a great variety of courses to choose from.
Higher education is mainly provided by both public and private universities. Spain is part of the Bologna Process, a Europe-wide co-operation to harmonize higher education in Europe. The new structure creates three levels of higher education.
First level: Undergraduate studies (Graduado) – 4 years, 240 ECTS
Second level: Master's studies – 1 or 2 years, 60 to 120 ECTS
Third level: PhD programs or Doctorate – 3 to 5 years
The academic calendar in Spanish universities begins in October and ends in June. Examinations are held at the end of the first semester, in February, and at the end of the second semester, in June. However, there are some variations between universities.