Andorra: hub of university studies

For years, I have imagined Andorra as a large university campus where teaching, research and investigation can be developed, but at the same time as a great economic engine for what it would represent to have hundreds of students living in the country. The initial bet, however, despite the growth in the number of students, has been focused on virtual education, although everything can change if the modifications that can drive a new assembly in Europe arrive.

The fact is that the educational strategy that Andorra developed had to be adapted to the particular circumstances of the country, both because of its population and territorial dimension and because of its existence as the geographical enclave between Spain and France. The variety of education offered at primary and secondary level, with the Andorran, French, Spanish, confessional and international private systems, serves the increasingly varied demand derived from the growth of a population both national and foreign. We can say that there are approximately 11,000 students up to secondary school, which out of a population of 80,000 inhabitants represents around 14% of the population, a figure very similar in percentage to that of Catalonia, with a million students and a population of 7.7 million.

In the field of university studies, however, Andorra has historically been characterized by exporting students abroad in the absence of a sufficiently diversified offer in the country. In recent years, however, due both to the efforts to improve the educational offer of the University of Andorra and to the landing of several universities of virtual studies, the Carlemany University and the European University, there has been an increase in the number of university students.

Even so, of the 1,635 university students in the country in 2020, only about 675 were enrolled in Andorra, while the rest were distributed between Spain (785), France (160) and other countries (15). In the 2022/23 academic year, the new private virtual universities have already come into play, contributing around 800 students, which together with the 670 enrolled in the UDA in formal education and the approximately 950 studying abroad, make a total of 2,420 university students linked to our country, in one way or another, although only a minority study in person in Andorra, approximately 300, while the rest either study abroad or do it virtually.

However, despite the fact that Andorra still has a long way to go to achieve a consolidated ecosystem of face-to-face university studies that at the same time allows the enhancement of research and investigation at the level of other countries in the European environment, the Andorran university world, strengthened due to the arrival of new international institutions, is trying to reinvent itself as a university educational hub. A year ago, the Associació Sant Julià de Lòria University Campus (ACU) was founded.

It unites the University of Andorra, the Carlemany University and European University in the Municipality of Sant Julià and with the support of the Government is aimed to turn the parish into a reference in the university field. Remember that in the same parish there are the Ministry of Education and Higher Studies, the Center for Professional Training, Andorra Research + Innovation, the Andorra Aviation Academy, and it seems that there is another study project in the musical field that is on the way. Additionally, and because of the growing needs for space on the part of the UDA, it has been agreed to allocate an area of approximately 3,000 m2 to expand its facilities. Nevertheless, the Comú has the project of building a student’s residence that precisely serves the arrival of foreign students attracted by the offer of university studies in Andorra.

The sensitive point, however, remains the consolidation of this new university ecosystem with a greater offer of face-to-face studies. In this sense, and despite the fact that Andorra belongs to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), there is still a whole series of technical studies that cannot be consolidated in the country until Andorra benefits from the automatic recognition of titles enjoyed by EU member countries. In this sense, Andorra’s Association Agreement with the EU can do a lot to attract in the future international university entities that want to settle in the country to develop face-to-face training programs of high added value and to promote research and investigation in the country, which ultimately is what gives prestige to a university institution.

I am aware that this is an issue on the agenda of the Andorran negotiators, especially the one deriving from Directive 2005/36/EC of September 7, 2005, pointing the importance of the potential application of the automatic recognition of qualifications obtained in Andorra in fields such as architecture, pharmacy, dentistry, medicine, or nursing. Precisely the latter has many possibilities to be included in Annex V of the Association Agreement and therefore to be considered with a title of automatic recognition of the provided for in Annex VII of the reference Directive.

Let’s imagine the potential of our country competing on equal terms with the rest of the European countries thanks to the automatic recognition of degrees! Let’s imagine how the country’s future university ecosystem could grow and develop with a massive presence of top-level educators, students and researchers living among us! Without a doubt, Andorra can aspire to become a great hub of university studies with students from Europe and the rest of the world, attracted by the magnificent conditions that the future “Andorra university campus” can offer them! The first step, however, the Association Agreement with the EU!

By Pere AugéCEO and Founding Partner of Augé Holding Group


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