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February 26, 2015

Students in Spain strike over university degree changes

Empty classrooms are the scene in many of Spain's universities as tens of thousands protest reforms.

Thousands of students demonstrate in defence of the public University during a rally in Madrid, Spain, 26 February 2015. (EPA/EMILIO NARANJO)

Changes to Spain's higher education degrees have driven students from their schools into the streets under the banner #NOAl3Mas2 (‘no to 3 plus 2’). Spain's Union of Students organised a 48-hour strike, which entered its second day on Thursday, to protest a measure passed in January. The new '3 plus 2' system changes the length of bachelor's and master's degree programmes, reducing bachelor's programmes from four to three years, and increasing master's courses from one year to two. 

Education Minister, Jose Ignacio Wert argues the changes will allow students to enter the job market earlier and the policy will allow for Spanish families to save roughly $168 million. He also says the reform is voluntary for universities and claims it would attract foreign students, because the “3 plus 2” system is common in Europe. 

Students, however, argue the new measure only benefits the wealthy, placing a financial burden on those wishing to pursue post-graduate degrees and devaluing students’ bachelor’s degrees.

Online, many shared videos and photos from Thursday's protests: