CHILDREN, teens and young adults across Spain have been going back to school and college this week, and parents digging deep in their pockets to find the cash for textbooks and notebooks – which pupils are required to...
Which degree? New courses for the 21st-century workplace offered in Spain
By thinkSPAIN Team Sat, Sep 15, 2018
IF YOU or your children are off to university this month, you or they may well have spent the last few years wading through a minefield of subjects – up to 3,000 are offered by Spanish higher education institutions.
And although the overwhelming majority of students attend the university nearest their home and return to the family nest at weekends, sixth-formers are gradually seeing the advantage of looking further afield where more suitable courses for their skill set are offered.
Unlike in the UK, degrees in Spain are typically four years long and cover one subject area only, and subjects are normally directly linked to students' chosen career – whilst British degree study may allow as many as three or four unrelated subjects to be combined and are often in areas where the student is not expecting to find work; the principle being that merely undertaking academic training and research at university level provides valuable skills and knowledge that employers in a wide variety of industries consider advantageous. And master's degrees in Spain are, in reality, professional qualifications – taking two years part-time or a year full-time, rather than three or two years respectively in the UK – as opposed to a British MA or MSc which has a much stronger academic leaning.
So, what's new?
If you or your children haven't made up their minds yet, though, you'll have even more to choose from these days – brand-new degree courses have been introduced for the first time across Spain over the last three years or so in response to the changing realities of the job market; expect to find lots relating to Big Data handling and new technology in general.
Here a just a few to add to your list of possibles.
Already pioneered by the UK's Open University decades ago, a 'mish-mash' degree has been an option in Spain since 2015, although at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona (UPF), the idea is to give students a taster before they make their final decision.
At this prestigious institution, undergraduates can choose modules from up to three different degree courses in the first year, and begin to specialise from their second year – but even where the modules are completely unrelated, they still count towards the final credit total.
A hot topic in the second decade of the 21st century, a degree in Gender Equality was launched at the Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid (URJC) in 2012, but axed two years later due to limited student numbers. Now revived, this time by Barcelona Autonomous University, this fascinating subject area offers a detailed insight into one of society's most pressing and topical areas of social science.
Nearly all universities in Spain now offer a degree related to modern communication technologies, although Valencia Polytechnic (UPV) was the first to launch the subject last year. Future demands in the job market could well see vacancies opening in the fields of virtual reality, robotics, biometric applications, video game design, interactive multi-media applications, and website programming. For those keen to 'get their hands dirty' and try out their new knowledge rather than simply writing about it, these degrees tend to be very practical and hands-on, with the bulk of the coursework involving projects.
In the current professional climate, those who opt for degrees in this area are almost guaranteed to find a job as soon as they graduate, as close to or as far from home as they wish: these are specialist vacancies that companies are, at present, finding nearly impossible to fill, meaning it's still an employee's market and packages of salaries, working conditions and perks are among the best and most lucrative offered as firms try everything to attract the right skills.
We have never before lived through an era where so much information is available to us, and degrees in Big Data management could serve as a blank cheque for their holders. Valencia University is offering a Data Science degree course for the first time this year, although it is likely many more will follow suit by September 2019.
Information and Digital Content Management
Also linked to Big Data and almost certain to carry a fascinating career, secure employment and attractive salary with it, Madrid's Carlos III University (UC3M) has just launched a degree in managing social media and virtual communities.
Sustainable and Smart City Management
Town planning is a whole new ball game at the end of the second decade of the 21st century – modern technologies are playing a bigger role than ever in infrastructure, public facilities, transport, and intangible factors such as financial and human capital, social cohesion and international projection. A trend that is only going to become stronger from the dawn of the new 'roaring twenties', the aim is to maximise liveability and comfort; but the environmental aspect will gradually take on more and more importance. 'Green' and sustainable ways of living (think electric car chargers, tree-planting, solar and wind energy, waste management...you get the picture) cannot be ignored by the town-planners of tomorrow. That's where Barcelona Autonomous University's bespoke degree course will give you a head start and an entry into this dynamic, intriguing and totally necessary field.
An ageing population, greater health needs and medical care advances so rapid that even five or 10 years is a lifetime in therapeutic terms means a workforce able to respond to the needs all this creates has to start preparing now to be able to deliver. Combining health sciences with technology, the International University of Catalunya (UIC)'s Bioengineering degree covers development of new orthopaedic and dental protheses – not just those already invented, but those yet to come. And you could be the creator if you have a flair for the subject.
A three-year degree, this innovative new course is largely based upon human biology but focuses on developing biomedical technologies and applications: the healthcare support system of the future. Currently only offered at the International Studies School at Barcelona's Pompeu Fabra University (ESCI-UPF), it's likely to gather momentum across the academic network and spread to other institutions over the next few years.
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