Universities in Spain. Find out information about the most famous Spanish Universities and its campuses such as: Salamanca, Madrid or Alcalá de Henares.
The foundation of Spain's higher education has a rich history that can be traced back to the Middle Ages. Educational centers such as Paris, Rome, and Bologna are commonly referred to with equal esteem as the universities of Palencia, Salamanca, and Alcala. Three separate epicenters for learning, religion, and governance.
During the foundation of each school, the term 'General Studium' was granted to the institutions in place of university to mean a place of general meeting or study. Eventually these organic bodies evolved to become universities and remain some of the oldest institutions of study in Western Europe.
The University of Palencia is the oldest and first University of Spain. Founded by Alfonso VIII by the appeal of Bishop Tello Tellez de Meneses in 1212. Like Salamanca and Alacala, the infrastructure of the school began with scholars who gathered to discuss science and virtue. Despite well compensated teachers brought from France and Italy, the death of the founder of the school in 1214 began the school's demise. With the swelling popularity of the close by University of Salamanca and the lack of finances, students and professors migrated away from Palencia. By 1264 the university powers were transferred to Valladolid. The University of Valladolid was officially charted by Clement VI in 1346. Valladolid currently has 31,880 undergraduate with over 2,000 faculty members.
Salamanca University, modeled after Palencia, sits among the oldest institutions in Western Europe when its inception was granted in 1218 by Alfonso IX of Leon as a General Studium. Kings would later expand Salamanca's facilities and faculty with a Magna Charta which decreed the title of University. By 1254 with financial aid from Alfonso X, 11 chairs were established with focus on Canonical Law, Medicine, Logic-Philosophy, Grammar and Music. 1529 marked the completion of the detailed façade that is today the University's administrative center. During the 16th century Salamanca University also boasted a student body of 2,500. The 20th century brought upgrades to the campus with the construction of the Miguel de Unamuno campus, thanks to modern enrollment close to 30,000.
Alcala, east of Madrid, saw its General Studium granted in 1293 by King Sancho IV. Cardinal Cisneros, the Regent of Spain, approved Alcala's university status in 1499. At the time, Alcala University was a mixture of the traditional university model of Paris and Salamanca with the innovative model at Bologna and Louvain. In the 18th century significant changes to teaching methods helped reform Spanish education. At the same time Maria Isidra de Guzman y de la Cerda was the first woman granted a doctorate of philosophy in Spain from Alcala. On December 2nd, 1998 “Due to its distinctive university model, its contribution to the arts and sciences throughout history, and to the beauty and wealth of its buildings", the University of Alcalá was declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site.
Spain's universities contend with top institutions worldwide while her older schools have withstood the test of time and continue to prosper. According to Webometrics, with research offices located in Spain, the top 10 universities in Spain for 2009 are as follows: Complutense University Madrid, Polytechnic University of Catalunya, Polytechnic University of Madrid, University of Vasco, University of Barcelona, University of Sevilla, Polytechnic University of Valencia, University of Murcia, University of Granada, and the University of Alicante. A source for modern university information and world rankings can be found at the Webometrics home page.