The maximum term to approve a foreign university degree will be six months. The Minister of Universities, Manuel Castells, presented this morning the draft of a Royal Decree that establishes the conditions and procedures for the homologation and equivalences of degrees and for the validation of university studies in foreign educational systems. Universities intend to have it approved by the end of this year.
The main objective of this reform is to limit to a maximum period of six months the processes of homologation, equivalence or validation of foreign university degrees. In addition, applicants for any of these procedures, which will always be carried out electronically, will be able to know at any time the status of their file through a computer application of the ministry. They will also have the right to a hearing to provide information to correct any defect.
With this reform, the department headed by Castells aims to simplify, streamline and give transparency to a currently cumbersome procedure that can last for years. At this time, the average resolution time for a file is 400 days (13 long months). The maximum six months will not apply to files currently being processed, explained the Secretary of State for Universities, Manuel Pingarrón, because these are carried out under current regulations and cannot be changed. But the streamlining of the rest of the procedures, he added, should be to his benefit. In Spain there are currently 15,000 pending homologation and equivalency applications.
The difference between homologations and equivalences concerns the studies to be validated in Spain. The approvals affect the studies that qualify for the so-called regulated professions, such as healthcare or lawyers, for example. Thus, a homologation has professional effects (the profession can be practiced) and academic (the person becomes a graduate in that title). The equivalences, however, concern studies that do not refer to a specific profession, for example Geography or Art History. In these cases, the equivalency only has academic effects, not professional (the person is a graduate in).
The objective of the ministry, as explained by those responsible, is to “de-bureaucratize” the procedure, which is why the decree introduces other novelties in this direction. For example, when a specific university requests the homologation of the same degree 100 times and it is found that the degree meets the requirements that Spain requires, from that moment the homologation will be semi-automatic, without the need to carry out the entire process.
This problem manifested itself at the beginning of the pandemic, when the ICUs of the hospitals were saturated and professionals were lacking. Faced with this alleged shortage –which some medical associations denied–, the Government decided to approve a Royal Decree to allow the exceptional hiring of non-EU doctors. “We managed to validate 4,171 health titles, 3,000 of them were doctors and they were able to strengthen our health system,” Minister Castells recalled. Regarding the titles that later require some type of qualifying training (lawyers must do a master’s degree, doctors specialization, for example), the Ministry has recalled that what is approved is the basic title and that the rest of the requirements must validate them by the ministries involved.