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MoU signed by UK and Spain to widen uni access

Representatives from the UK and Spain have signed a deal to allow for easier access to each other’s universities for students.

The agreement was signed bilaterally by UK ambassador Hugh Elliott and Spanish education minister Pilar Alegria. Photo: Spanish government

[The agreement] will come into force on August 2

The memorandum of understanding, which was signed by Spain’s minister of education Pilar Alegria and UK ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott, will aim to usher in “pre-Brexit” procedures for British students wanting to study at Spanish universities.

It will mean that A-Level students in particular will not be subject to taking the Spanish General University Exam, or EBAU, with only some courses with more competitiveness needing additional entry requirements.

The minister of Spanish universities Joan Subirats signed the MoU on July 3 to make it official, and “limit the impact of Brexit on access to universities that has been affecting British students”.

It will come into force on August 2.

While the move is largely set to impact British students based in the UK wishing to study in Spain, it will also assist those who are studying under the British education system in Spain.

“[It will also help] the more than 70,000 students coming from more than 80 education centres that are taught under the British system in our country,” the statement read.

“This agreement facilitates the education cooperation between both countries,” it continued.

Ricardo del Milagro, head of international relations at the University of Malaga told The PIE News that the institution was encouraged by the move.

“We are more than delighted that students from the British education system can continue to come to our university, and in fact we are making an effort to increase our classes in English, in a clear commitment to internationalisation,” he noted.

Madrid-based Universidad Europea saw a 59% increase in the amount of students in the UK in 2023, with the hopes that more will follow amid the MoU.

“We’re seeing more and more interest in [British people] coming to Spain and the training that we offer,” commented Belén Mariño, director of international relations at Universidad Europea.

On the other hand, students from Spain wishing to study in the UK will have “additional legal certainty” when applying to UK institutions, and the agreement also sets out a framework for expanded cooperation on education. The details of this have not been disclosed.

This is not the first time that Spain has endeavoured to make it easier for non-EU students, including British nationals, after the country agreed to allow those from outside the bloc to stay an extra year in Spain to look for jobs after graduating from a Spanish institution.

“This agreement… reinforces our bilateral relationship”

“Today, I had the honour of signing the agreement on the recognition of school qualifications with Pilar Alegria, which will facilitate access to university for our respective students,” Elliott said when the memorandum was signed on June 23.

On July 3, Elliott was present when Subirats signed the memorandum to finalise it.

“I am delighted to complete the signing of the bilateral agreement on education cooperation and access to university.

“I’d like to thank Pilar Alegria and Joan Subirats and their respective teams for their work on this agreement that reinforces our bilateral relationship,” Elliott wrote on Twitter on July 4.

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