One of the problems for anyone thinking of higher education in Spain, whether for themselves or their children is: where to go? After all, it is never easy to find somewhere that combines a user-friendly campus with degree courses that are going to be genuinely useful.
Interestingly, the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (Polytechnic University of Valencia) has a campus at Gandia – which I suspect, may be the answer to many students’ prayers. I say this because some main university campuses in Spain are vast and can really daunt students (at least new ones). This can make the step from school to university an unsustainable leap.
To some extent this is true of the Polytechnic University of Valencia in Valencia city. Based around an enormous (and very fine) campus in Valencia city, the University has some 30,000 students! It is almost a town in its own right and was, sadly, far too intimidating for my own son when he started a degree course there three years ago.
Matters are certainly not helped for the timid or shy when undertaking university education in Spain because Spanish universities do not have a tutorial system like in the UK or the US. This can mean that the tuition provided can be largely restricted to lectures and brief, defined times when a student has access, on his own, to see a given tutor. So, the system does not naturally provide the mentoring (let alone the group mentoring) that young students invariably need.
All of this means that the choice of university in Spain within which to study is vitally important. Certainly, for my son the answer was to attend a smaller campus – and this is something worthy of consideration for anyone thinking of studying in Spain.
By sheer good luck the Polytechnic University of Valencia close to me has a campus at Gandia – which has hugely impressed both my son and myself. In some ways, it is the antipathy of the larger university campuses in Spain. There are only 2,000 students, based within a neat, new campus (inaugurated in 2001) that is wonderfully well placed close to the beaches and port of Gandia.
Importantly, the campus at Gandia is far from intimidating. Indeed, it has a friendly ambience and one that the professors themselves admit encourages a personal approach to the tuition of the courses – and thereby a more intimate relationship with students than is normally the case in Spain.
Certainly, my son has adapted well to the Gandia campus of the Polytechnic University of Valencia and has been obtaining fine results that will enable him to go on a much encouraged (by the staff) Erasmus course next year.
The Polytechnic University of Valencia at Gandia has four degree (grado) courses, available to students, each of which last four years,:
- Audio Visual Communication
- Telecommunication systems
- Environmental studies
All four degrees are popular and the staff at Gandia are keen to point out that there is a natural synergy between the courses – which is helpful to both the students and teaching staff.
Needless to say, the Audio Visual Communication degree (the one being studied by my son) is extremely popular – with applicants for the course doubling year on year. Indeed, to get on the course, extremely high grades at Bachillerato and Selectivo are required. This is not surprising as this technical and demanding degree is highly applicable to working life and the media (including the Internet). It focuses on radio/TV, creativity, animation and interactive communications and has a passionately committed director in Antonio Forés López.
Meanwhile, the Polytechnic University of Valencia at Gandia is justifiably proud of its tourism degree (for which English is obligatory). The campus has a close relationship with numerous government institutions and local companies and therefore knows the tourism industry and its issues intimately.
Finally, the telecommunications systems and environmental degrees are nothing if not pertinent – given the technological revolution exploding within Spain and the many issues facing the country after its recent rampant and chaotic building boom.
Jordi Mauri is an impressive professor who specialises in business innovation at the Gandia campus and, taking me around the campus, he stressed the ethos of the University.
‘What we are proud of here is the environment that we have developed,’ Jordi said. ‘At Gandia we are always striving to make sure that what we teach is relevant and applicable to our students after they finish their studies. However, we also recognise that their time with us needs to be fun – whilst providing them with an opportunity to mature and develop in a positive way’.
Certainly, I was encouraged by the motto of the Gandia campus which is ‘Qualsevol Nit Pot Sortir El Sol’ – which is written large on one of the building walls. It is Valencian and, more or less, translates as ‘Every night ends with a new day’ – an optimistic, thoughtful and peculiarly endearing motto.
Interestingly, the Gandia part of the Polytechnic University of Valencia is keen to encourage foreign students to come to the campus. At present, they have some 120 foreign students of whom 60 are Chinese who, I suspect, must delight in being on the campus.
After all some of the best beaches in Spain are five minutes walk away from the Gandia university campus, Gandia town is wonderful (by anyone’s standards) and the terrific city of Valencia is just a cheap 50 minute train ride. Meanwhile, the campus facilities are virtually brand new and the whole place is easy to navigate and has a pleasant, relaxed ambience.
The point, of course, is that for higher education in Spain to be effective (as in any other country) it needs to be done in the right environment – one that is user-friendly for students. To my mind, this is something that the Gandia campus of the Polytechnic University of Valencia seems to have achieved. The facilities are good, the staff appear enthusiastic and proud of their campus and the atmosphere at the University is both businesslike and friendly.
So, if you are thinking of studying in Spain or undertaking higher education in Spain or have the possibility of an exchange or Erasmus course then you would be well advised to have a look at the Gandia campus of the Polytechnic University of Valencia. I think that you will be impressed.
Incidentally, at Gandia there are two masters courses available: post production and acoustics. Next year there will be a further masters course on social media – which just shows how up to date the university is!
- UPV Office of International Exchange Programs website
- International Student Guide (including Accommodation Information, Academic Calendar, etc.)
- UPV Course Information
(Click on the Schools and Faculties for the degrees offered within that school, then click on the degree to find the courses.)
- Spanish as a Foreign Language courses
- Pre-Session Intensive Spanish Language courses (Gandia campus)
- UPV General Information (in English)
- UPV Campus Video Tour
- Exchange Student Guide (Guia_Alumno_Extranjero)
- Valencia Cultural Tourist Information