Spain has consistently been recognized for its prestigious business schools, with three of Europe's best institutions in 2019 being located within the Iberian nation, according to QS Global MBA. It is therefore no surprise that international students often descend on the country for postgraduate studies in cities like Madrid and Barcelona, with the two regions accounting for 47% of total international students in the country.
Indeed, in the last academic year over 50,000 international students studied at business schools in Spain, with over 60% coming from Latin America, just under 15% hailing from the EU, and the rest coming from Asia Oceania.
Looking at the wider university scene, international students totaled 125,000, with Erasmus accounting for over 40% of total foreign representation. Spain is the top country in the EU for international students, with Germany and France in second and third place in 2019, according to the annual report released by The European Commission.
However, a summary of the education sector this year would not be complete without mention of the impact of COVID-19 on the sector. Among the OECD, Spain's schools were shut for the longest duration, according to official data published by the organization in its study “The state of school education - one year into the COVID pandemic." And with primary, secondary, and tertiary education centers forced to shut their doors, many quickly adopted digital solutions in order to keep students learning. It is a subject that is prevalent across every interview we carried out in preparation for this publication.
Spain's well-developed telecoms infrastructure was also a boon as so many took to online classes, although the advent of distance learning was not the only dramatic challenge the sector faced. Indeed, over recent years the sector has been working to find alternative ways to better bridge universities with local employment markets.
The needs of companies have experienced some distortion over the last decade, since traditional subject matters have become less significant in a constantly changing business climate.
Digitalization was a must, and the sector has properly responded. Innovation programs and the use of new technologies are expected to fully integrate online learning systems, but there is a still a lot of work to do in order to keep attracting international eyes and investment and maintain Spain's position at a leader of industry globally.