student life

student life
   Student life during the Franco regime was characterized by a high level of student protest against the absence of democratic structures, particularly in the last ten years of Francoism. After the transition to democracy, protests, while still retaining something of their political focus, tended to concentrate increasingly on specifically student problems, especially those created by masificación, the overloading of the university system by increased student numbers. The number of university students doubled during the 1960s and increased approximately nine-fold between 1970 and the mid-1990s. In the academic session 1995–6, there were approximately 1.5 million students in higher education in Spain. At the same time, there were 67,000 university teachers, giving an average national ratio of one member of staff to twentytwo students. This figure, however, conceals the gross imbalance in the system. Law students account for 13.5 percent of all students nationally, as against 8.9 percent following degree courses in Engineering in the Escuelas Técnicas Superiores (Higher Technical Schools, the equivalent of Engineering Faculties), and 2 percent studying Chemistry in Faculties of Science. There is serious overcrowding in some traditional disciplines, where classes contain several hundred students, there is little contact with staff, and tutorials are rare. In addition, students frequently complain about the inadequacy of library and other facilities.
   Despite relatively low fee levels (e.g. about £450 per annum for a science student) and the provision of grants, the participation rate, measured as a percentage of the population between ages 20 and 24, is around 30 percent, which is not particularly high by European standards. Fewer than 20 percent of students receive grants. The phenomenon of the "mature student", who returns to full-time education after working for several years, is comparatively rare, as is the student who supports his or her study by holding a part-time job. On the other hand, there is a large number of students in their late twenties, because of the low proportion (around 45 percent) who complete their degrees within the normal time. Many students take up to seven or eight years to complete a first degree. Traditionally, students have not only come from a similar social background but also from the same geographical area, as government policy required them to study in the university nearest to their home. In the mid-1990s, in an effort to encourage greater competitiveness, the government relaxed this regulation, to enable students to apply to the institution with the best reputation in their chosen area of study.
   One of the most visible changes in student life has been the increasing participation of women in higher education. There are more women than men in most areas of study, including, e.g., architecture, where the proportion of female graduates more than doubled in the decade to 1990, from 12 percent to 25 percent. The percentage of women graduates in all faculties increased from 42 in 1980 to 54 in 1990.
   Further reading
   - Alted, A. (1995) " Educational Policy in Democratic Spain", in H.Graham and J.Labanyi (eds) Spanish Cultural Studies, an Introduction: The Struggle for Modernity, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 320–5 (a concise overview, with a useful bibliography).
   - Hooper, J. (1995) The New Spaniards, Harmondsworth: Penguin (chapter 19 is a general overview of education, which contains some useful material on higher education).
   - Montero, R. (1995) " The Silent Revolution: The Social and Cultural Advances of Women in Democratic Spain", in H.Graham and J. Labanyi (eds) Spanish Cultural Studies, an Introduction: The Struggle for Modernity, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 381–5 (considers the participation of women in higher education as part of general changes in women's situation).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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