According to a recent report by El PAÍS, the decree, which was announced in 2021 in an attempt to streamline the process, was only implemented last October – and currently has little to show to help move the process forward.
They have a lot of applications to deal with. The homologación de titutlos universitarios extranjeros (recognition of foreign university degrees) currently has over 39,000 cases waiting to be opened – not to be completed, but to be opened – and this does not include applications still awaiting completion and new applications from 2021 onwards.
“The yield that came into force [on October 18 2022] it sets a deadline of six months to resolve the files,” Universities Minister Joan Subirats said in December 2022.
Subirats further said that applicants who started before the date of the decree will have to close their previous application and start a new one.
The decree also applies to anyone arriving in Spain with foreign degrees, meaning returning citizens are part of an even bigger bottleneck.
“[We intend to] speed up paperwork and fix the human drama of long waiting periods for those who decide to start a new life in our country,” said former minister Manuel Castells in 2021. He resigned in December of that year, with the decree still pending implementation. .
The bureaucratic funnel faced by Spanish nationals has been growing since 2014, says EL PAÍS, and the pandemic has naturally made it worse.
The need for healthcare workers has grown during this period and job shortages have become a major problem in Spain over the past two years, with the government promising to recruit more foreign workers plug the gap. Spain has also begun to attract foreign students from outside the EU stay after graduation to help with the shortage.
Despite these efforts, it leaves behind people like American graduate Inmaculada Reina Sumariva – despite being a Spanish citizen.
When Sumariva decided to return to Spain with her family and tried to resume her work in her native Andalusia, she failed.
“I have strong qualifications that are not recognized in my country. I was an ICU nurse manager at the Johns Hopkins Institute – Mekce Mek – [and] I worked at the Medical College of Georgia,” she recounted.
“Shouldn’t we be within Bologna?”
Above all, despite the aforementioned lack of healthcare workers nurses, she couldn’t get her degree confirmed – and only managed to get a job as a clinical assistant – well below her qualifications.
Some 5,100 doctors and nurses received their working degrees from foreign degrees last year, and as Sumariva recounts, she had to “wait her turn”.
Another case, Marta Perez, began in December 2019 trying to get her degree in educational sciences from a French-language university confirmed – she says the file wasn’t even opened until March 2022. She says she can’t even talk to anyone on the phone, and that the paper system , while slow, continues to be the only way she can communicate with the department handling her case.
Speaking to El PAÍS, she asked: “Shouldn’t we be within Bologna?”
The Treasury Department’s team dealing with cases like Sumariva and Perez has been beefed up in recent months – in November the Universities Department announced the former would get 64 “temporary” officials to help with the bottleneck.
PIE News have attempted to contact both the Spanish Ministry of Labor and Social Economy and the Ministry of Universities to clarify how long it may take to resolve said issues and why returning Spanish students were being abandoned, especially amid a crippling labor shortage to help resolve them.
Representatives of the former declined to comment, and the latter did not respond.