Within the framework of the general education offered by universities (Undergraduate Degrees, University Masters and Doctorates), there is a need to include other programmes designed to take higher education to society as a whole, in response to the constant need to expand and refresh knowledge.
The offer of permanent or continuing education has been increasing constantly. Universities offer a wide range of widely accepted and recognised master’s programmes and postgraduate diplomas. During the 2016-2017 academic year, more than 45,000 students enrolled, with an offer of more than 2,300 courses aimed at professionals and in close collaboration with the professional world. The evolution of the interest in these university courses has been remarkable, increasing in the last seven years by 70%.
Bespoke training for companies and organizations is of particular relevance. In 2016-2017, a total of 557 programmes were taken by more than 14,000 professionals. This higher education is designed and executed in accordance with the specific needs of organisations that find that universities answer their needs for specialised training.
In recent years, the demand for training in second and third languages has grown sharply. The importance of knowing languages in the Catalan university system is considerable, which aims for students to be qualified in three languages (Catalan, Spanish and a third foreign language) by the time they complete undergraduate studies. Apart from French, English and German, universities offer other modern languages. In 2016-2017, more than 28,000 students took foreign language courses.
Universities are also looking to maintain a relationship with wider society by offering higher education to as many people as possible. For years now, they have been launching programmes like the La Universitat de la Gent Gran (University for the Elderly), which opens the doors of university classrooms to people through academically sound courses, conferences and seminars on any subject that might boost the knowledge of the people at whom they are addressed. In 2016-2017, more than 12,000 people enjoyed such classes.
Teaching activity does not end with the academic year. In summer, universities keep their doors open to offer a wide range of proposals in the form of courses and conferences in all disciplines, generally of a short duration. These programmes have no specific entrance requirements, so a large number of people can take part despite not necessarily having any previous higher education, thereby bringing universities closer to the maximum number of people.
All of this forms part of the Catalan university system’s response to the need to create the right conditions to support the promotion of educational opportunities across all of society and throughout and at different stages of life.