Open for the holidays

The academic year is over but Catalonia’s universities offer the chance to improve your knowledge in the summer

Catalan universities don’t close in summer. Rather they offer courses and activities for their own students and people with no direct links to the world of higher education, but who want to take advantage of this period to broaden their knowledge.

An example is Els Juliols programme at Barcelona University, which last year attracted 1,700 people and which offers around a hundred different courses in areas from art, music and cinema to technology, economics, philosophy and biology. “Among those who sign up are young people who still haven’t started university but who wanted to have their first experience of it, people who are already undergraduates and also people over 50 who are professionally established but who want to go back to the classroom out of a desire to learn new things,” says one head of the programme that has experienced an 11% increase in the number of people signed up in just two years. The idea is create a “micro-university”, a mirror image of how classes work during the normal academic year. In the 22 years that Els Juliols have been working, the programme’s organisers have found that the courses related to art, politics and philosophy are the most popular. Apart from the usual subjects, the 2018 edition will also offer courses in four areas: the Summer University of the Woman (now in its 11th edition), Entrepreneurship, May ‘68, and The State: revolution and repression.

The world at home

At Barcelona’s Autonomous University (UAB), the star summer programme is the Barcelona Summer School, which is aimed at students who want an international experience without going abroad. “It offers subjects in all areas, with a total of six ECTS credits with academic recognition. The courses are completely in English and take place in two three-week periods from the end of June until the beginning of August,” says the vice dean of the UAB’s International Relations department, Màrius Martínez. Among the subjects on offer are courses in psychology, leadership and negotiation techniques, history, geography, European economic integration and even nanotechnology. Students from other countries also do the courses, allowing them to study abroad without having to do a full term at the university. “For UAB students, our summer school allows us to practise what we call “internationalisation at home”: students who, for whatever reason, cannot go abroad have the chance to do courses in English while meeting foreign students without leaving the UAB,” adds Martínez.

A flexible term

The Pompeu Fabra University also has summer courses in its Barcelona International Summer School (BISS), a programme of courses in Catalan, Spanish and English, in which the students share classrooms with foreign students. The courses are also academically recognised and are available from five times a week to just once a week, and include subjects in art and culture, economy and innovation, global cities, justice and law, social measures and dialogue, mind, life and environment, social analysis and methods and data. The UPF also offers, in this case to the general public, the Plurilingual Campus, which allows participants to learn about four languages and cultures throughout July at a reduced price.

Courses and campus

Catalonia’s Polytechnic University (UPC) has a wide range of activities during the summer, but one of the most interesting is in mathematics (aimed at secondary school pupils and students in vocational training). This summer will see the third edition of the Scientific Campus of the Faculty of Mathematics and Statistics, while the Barcelona Tech Math Summer Camp is an introduction to higher maths. Also in Barcelona is the Young Professional in Space, in which the participants get to build a satellite. The UPC also offers activities in other places in Catalonia. Secondary students who like tech can find activities in the UPC in Manresa, such as Frikiweek, which has talks and presentations in the area of ICT. Meanwhile, in Terrassa they offer courses and workshops in industrial engineering, aerospace, the audiovisual sector, and multimedia technology. Vilanova i la Geltrú has the University of the Mediterranean Campus, offering activities on society, technology and the environment to the general public. Finally, Berguedà hosts the Catalan Summer University of Nature, for anyone interested in natural resources.


Learning languages

All Catalan universities offer language courses in the summer. The most in-demand is English, but there are also foreign students and residents who want to improve their Spanish and/or Catalan. In many cases, anyone over 16 can sign up.


The Summer University of Science and Technology in the UPC in Castelldefels: CasTECHdefels, offers activities to school pupils, teachers and the general public, including families with children. Other options include learning to fly a drone or make homemade beer.

From witches to photographing the stars

The courses and activities organised outside the Barcelona area are no less diverse. The Rovira i Virgili University in Tarragona, for example, runs Bruixes, enverinadores, remeieres i sanadores (about witches) in Arnes, and El que no t’expliquen al CSI (about forensics) in Móra d’Ebre. Girona University will have 50 courses, with new ones, such as Active ageing, The art of making good decisions and The transformative power of failure. Lleida University also has some 60 courses on, for example, how to photograph stars, the music industry or detecting abuse in children. And don’t forget Catalonia’s Open University (UOC) also has distance courses.

Helping to decide

Being a teenager and having to choose what to study is not easy. A good way of getting a taste of university is the UPF’s Junior Campus, which is aimed at secondary school pupils who will soon be coming up for their final exams.

Sign in. Sign in if you are already a verified reader. I want to become verified reader. To leave comments on the website you must be a verified reader.
Note: To leave comments on the website you must be a verified reader and accept the conditions of use.