12 Best Universities in Spain for International Students

//12 Best Universities in Spain for International Students

Spain has grown to become one of the most popular destinations of study in Europe for international students. With its outstanding beaches, thriving cities, stunning architecture, iconic cuisine, and colorful festivals, the country offers the perfect student experience for anyone who wishes to immerse themselves in culture during their academic studies. Spain currently has around 40 universities and institutions in its higher education system. In this article, we will be looking at the best universities in Spain for international students.

Spanish is one of the most popular languages in the world and studying this language is one of the main reasons as to why the country attracts a diverse range of foreign students. An added advantage of choosing to study in Spain is the affordability and relatively cheap costs of living, especially in comparison to other European countries. Education is offered in a mix of Spanish and English (with the occasional Spanish dialects) as means of accommodating international students.

Below, we have compiled a list of some of the best universities for international students. You will notice that most of the universities tend to be concentrated around the global cities of Madrid and Barcelona. The universities range from recently established young institutions to some of the oldest and most elite universities in the world.


Top Universities in Spain for International Students

1. Pompeu Fabra University

Located in the city of Barcelona, the Pompeu Fabra University is a public research university in Spain that was established in the year 1990. Despite its recent inception, the university has been classified as one of the fastest rising institutions of higher education in the world. This university was recently classified as the ‘International Excellence Campus’ by the government of Spain and is also one of the leading institutions targeted towards international students in the country. Therefore, Pompeu Fabra University makes it out on our list of best universities in Spain for international students. Pompeu Fabra’s leading degrees of study are in the fields of Economics and Business although it offers professional qualifications with leading academics as well. The institution currently offers education for over 10,000 undergraduates and around 4000 postgraduate students. Students also have access to Pompeu Fabra’s leading research centers that investigate cutting edge fields that contribute vastly to major challenges in the world. With its location in the European super hub of Barcelona, the university offers to its students a wealth of opportunities during and after their study at this leading Spanish university.



2. Autonomous University of Barcelona

The Universitat Autonomy de Barcelona or the Autonomous University of Barcelona is another public university in the stunning Catalan regions of Spain. It is located approximately 20km from the city of Barcelona but students have easy access to the city. Established in 1968, the university provides a diverse cultural experience to its students in addition to their prestigious academia. Despite its recent inception, the university has a strong reputation for its research and has one of the largest doctoral schools in the country. Through 57 major departments of studies, the university offers well over 150 different degrees of study for its student population of 43,000. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the university is one of the best universities in Spain for international students. As the university strives to maintain an enriching atmosphere for international students, it focuses on providing classes in English as well as Catalan and Spanish so students can get a mixed learning experience catered to their preferences.



3. University of Valencia

Valencia is the third-largest city in Spain and is home to not just the beautiful beaches of Spain but also the iconic University of Valencia. Established in 1499, it is among the oldest surviving universities in the country and is known for its prestigious and elite standards of academics. The university currently provides education for well over 50,000 students. Although the majority of courses are taught in Spanish or Valencian, this does not mean international students are left out; the university offers a multitude of courses in English medium. Academically, the institution is comprised of 3 main campuses that house different departments. Additionally, several student exchange programs are offered in collaboration with other universities internationally. Students who are interested in the Erasmus exchange program with other European Universities should know that this prestigious university is ranked among the top 10 universities for Erasmus.



4. University of Barcelona

We have already covered two great universities in Barcelona but either of them were the last in this diverse Spanish city. The University of Barcelona is another elite institution located in the heart of Barcelona that was established in 1450. With its rich history, the university has grown to become the best university in Spain (based on the QS university rankings of 2018) as well as being ranked among the top 200 universities in the world. With a student population that currently exceeds 60,000, the university offers a multitude of educational programs that comprises of around 70+ undergraduate degrees, 270+ graduate degrees and over 40 different doctoral programs. The university of Barcelona is considered to be one of the top universities in Spain for international students because of its international standards and excellence and is currently among the top choices of study for international students due to its academics as well as location and environment. Students also have access to the cutting edge facilities that come with the university’s high profile for research.



5. Pablo de Olavide University

The Pablo de Olavide University (or UPO in Spanish) is a public university located in the city of Seville in Spain. Established in 1997, the university is one of the recent additions to the higher education system in the country but its reputation for academics and student experience have risen rapidly since its recent inception. With a population of 10,000 students, the UPO offers a wide variety of degrees of study in traditional majors. Seven schools constitute this university for international students in Spain ranging from Faculties of Social Science and Law to Sports and Humanities. Facilities are modern and cutting edge with students having access to accommodation and residential quarters within the large spread campus. Seville is also known as the birthplace of Flamenco and is among the most beautiful cities in the country. Despite its small university population, the UPO provides a unique and enriching experience for all its students and international students further get the opportunity to study in a diverse and traditional environment that thrives with culture and community. This is particularly ensured by the unique International Center that manages related programs for the students.



6. University of Granada

Located in the iconic city of Granada in Southern Spain, the University of Granada (or UGR) is another example of the ancient universities in the country. Founded in 1531, the university is also among the largest of institutions of higher education in Spain with a student community that currently exceeds 80,000. In addition to ranking among the top 10 best universities in Spain, the UGR also holds a notable reputation as being the best university in Europe for international students. It provides a multitude of different undergraduate and graduate degrees across 22 faculties and over 100 departments of study. In addition to its campus in Granada, the UGR further operates international campuses in Ceuta and Melilla of Northern Africa. Adding to its international prestige, the university’s most popular courses of study are offered by the Center for Modern Languages which draws well over 10,000 international students every year! So it definitely comes as no surprise that, if you are an international student, you would very much have an enriching student experience at this great university in Spain for international students.



7. University of Salamanca

Located in the city of Salamanca near Madrid, the University of Salamanca is a prestigious Spanish public university that was founded in 1134. With its rich history, this elite institution is another example of one of the oldest and timeless universities in the country as well as in the world. Its world-class reputation enables the university draw undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral students from all regions of Spain and across the world. For international students, the university offers a number of Spanish courses for non-Spanish speakers which further draws in thousands upon thousands of foreign students annually. Because of this, the university is considered to be a top university in Spain for international students. Added to this, the university upholds a high standard for its research and is connected to the Coimbra group in addition to several other cutting-edge research establishments in the country.



8. University of Deusto

The University of Deusto is one of the few private universities in Spain. Its main campuses are located in the cities of Bilbao and San Sebastian in Basque county, with an additional satellite campus and business school in Madrid. With its status as a private university, it is among the oldest of its kind in the country and currently provides education to a student community of around 10,000 students. Its relatively small campus is composed of 6 academic schools including Social and Human Sciences, Business, Engineering, Law and Theology.  It currently holds claim as the oldest private university and welcomes students from all regions of Spain as well as a large community of international students.



9. Nebrija University

Located in the thriving city of Madrid, Nebrija University is another example of best universities in Spain for international students. This institution has rapidly flourished, it has been drawing in countless international students each year from across the world for a portion of their academic studies. Nebrija has a relatively small student population of around 5000 students which greatly enhances the close-knit nature of the academic community. The university consistently makes an effort to provide an enriching and cross-cultural experience to their international students by integrating academic and extra-curricular work with Spanish students. Whether these international students study for an exchange year or more, they have the option of creating their own course study and enhance their level and knowledge of Spanish.



10. Complutense University of Madrid

Adding to the list of ancient universities in the world, the Complutense University of Madrid (or CU Madrid) is another example of a timeless institution of higher education that was built in 1293. It is among the top universities in the country and provides education for well over 80,000 students. This elite institution in Spain for international students is built on a sprawling campus within the city of Madrid, with additional campuses on the outskirts. Its alumni are most famous for transforming the political atmosphere of the country. A large number of initiatives and activities are designed and organized to cater for international students who hail from over 70 different countries in the world. Continuous exchange programs such as Erasmus help the CU Madrid to maintain a high international profile. With its convenient location in the heart of Spain, the university offers an enriching study environment for its students for their academics as well as personal development.



11. University of Navarra

Among the few private universities located in Spain, the University of Navarra holds an especially high ranking. Located in the city of Pamplona, this university was established in 1952. Currently, the university has a student community comprising of around 12,000 students and an international student population exceeding 1500. It offers a multitude of undergraduate and graduate-level courses and programs through 6 academic schools. It further maintains a strong reputation for international research despite its small community. Navarra further maintains international partnerships with reputed overseas universities such as the University of Hong Kong and the University of Edinburgh.



12. Autonomous University of Madrid

Madrid certainly has its fair share of universities and institutions of higher education! The Autonomous University of Madrid (or simply known as UAM) is another public university located in the capital that was founded in 1968. This university in Spain for international students has consistently held a reputation for outstanding academics despite its recent inception and has often been classified among the best young universities in the world! Fields of study such as mathematics and law are particularly acclaimed in the university. Added to this, the university also has a strong projection into international research. Students have access to a thriving campus that hosts several festivities and functions across the academic year so international students are guaranteed to have a well-rounded educational experience during the duration of their studies at the university.



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