The University of Malaga (UMA) sends fewer students abroad than it receives from other European countries under the Erasmus student exchange programme. In the 2006-2007 university year, 419 UMA students studied abroad, while 580 came from the rest of Europe to study in Malaga. This university year, the figures were 460 and 600 respectively. UMA is also a popular choice for students from Latin America, the US and Canada. UMA’s vice-rector for International Relations, María Cabello, said Malaga was a popular destination because of “the city’s welcoming ambience, the hospitable nature of its people, UMA’s academic quality and the fact that the number of students opting to study Spanish as a second language is growing year by year”.
The spokesman for the Malaga provincial government’s intercultural affairs department said last Friday that British children have the hardest time adapting to local schools, because of the language barrier. He said this was because they are a “closed” group, who talk only among themselves and speak English at home. The 4,599 British children in schools in the province are the biggest group of foreign students, representing 17% of the total.
The Madrid regional government announced last week that it will not be able to make a good a promise by regional president Esperanza Aguirre to open a Catalan school in the capital because of a lack of demand. Regional education councillor, Lucia Figar, said only 11 families had requested that their children be taught in Catalan next year. She said that as the requests corresponded to different levels the regional government would try to give the families an option by opening a section in an established school so that those who wanted to study in Catalan could do so. Sra Aguirre made her promise in response to plans by the Catalan regional government to make Catalan the main language in schools there, with Spanish being studied as a foreign language.
Finding a good state school can be very difficult for parents, some of whom appear to be going to extreme lengths to get their children into the school of their choice. Family Court Judges in the city of Seville have noticed that the divorce rate has increased significantly and suspect that parents are faking divorce to help get their children into local schools. A change in the law, effective from the beginning of last year, means a child receives extra points if they live in a single parent home. In most cases, the children in this category have either divorced or officially separated parents. During March 2007 – the cut-off month for entry into state schools – court officials said the number of separations compared to other months rose by 50%. They said the same rise has occurred this year and are currently investigating whether these divorces were genuine. The Andalusian Regional Education Department said that since the change in the law they are receiving complaints that parents are divorcing to secure school points. A spokesman said: “There are some cases of this actually occurring, but they are very few and where there are cases reported to us we investigate and if found to be true the child is not allowed into the school.” He added: “Most parents who commit this type of fraud do it by providing false information about their home address or income, not by divorcing.” However, the so-called “quickie” divorce law passed in 2005 is contributing to the fake divorce phenomenon. Couples can now officially separate within three weeks, and Court officials said they have seen couples who have recently divorced, back in court after the school entry date, seeking a reconciliation. Faking divorce is not an offence in Spain.
Two old blanket factories in Antequera are being used to give training and language courses to foreigners and also house a catering school. The factories were reformed and converted by the 48 students currently studying there. A spokesman said 90% of the students are aged under 17 and more than 80% find jobs very quickly after finishing their courses.
Alora Town Council hopes to build a students residence near the Renfe station, if Malaga University agrees to the plan. The residence would provide students with cheap accommodation and all kinds of services, just 20 minutes down the line from the university. A council spokesman said the students would benefit economically while bringing new life to the town.