Founded in 1218 by King Alfonso IX, Salamanca University is the oldest institution of higher learning in Spain. It became the first Spanish university to offer language courses to foreign students when it inaugurated its Spanish language program in 1929.
Spanish Programs at Salamanca University
The History of Salamanca University’s Spanish Language Program
The University of Salamanca added Spanish language and cultural courses to its curriculum in 1929. Today, the program is among the most successful of its kind, with a yearly enrolment of more than 4,000 foreign students and language teachers from across the world.
The university’s status as a pioneering force in the field of Spanish language instruction was affirmed by the Spanish government when the Instituto Cervantes (the official institution in charge of disseminating the Spanish language) assigned Salamanca University the task of elaborating and evaluating the yearly DELE exams used to officially accredit advanced Spanish language students worldwide.
The Spanish language program is housed in the Escuelas Menores building, a campus wing located in the heart of Salamanca’s historic district. A beautiful Renaissance court graced with magnificent arcades forms the center of the building. On its façade, which is decorated with numerous figures, the famous and difficult to spot ¨frog on a skull¨ can be found; a sight which according to local lore bestows academic success on its beholders. The building’s façade also features plateresque carvings of the Catholic Kings, Charles V's imperial coat of arms, and a depiction of the Pope with two Cardinals. The ancient walls are marked with the legacies of students who, upon graduation, have written their initials in ink composed of bull’s blood, olive oil, and herbs.
Surrounded by deep history as it is, the program’s installations nevertheless count with state-of-the-art educational technology and modern conveniences designed to provide students with a quality, comfortable learning experience.
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The History of Salamanca University
Founded in 1218 by King Alfonso IX, the University of Salamanca was Spain’s first institution of higher learning. By 1254 it had received acknowledgment from Pope Alexander IV as being one of the four great world universities, along with the universities of Oxford, Paris and Bologna. It has played host to numerous illustrious professorial careers throughout its long history, including those of Luis de León, Beatriz de Galindo, Melchor Cano, Francisco de Vitoria and Miguel de Unamuno. Such historical figures as Miguel de Cervantes, Hernán Cortés and Christopher Columbus have walked the university’s halls.
In 1254 King Alfonso X granted the university the privileges that constitute its Magna Carta; appointing curators; placing the institution under the authority of the bishop, the dean, and the chancellor; and assigning salaries to its professors. From that point on the university’s academic titles were presented in the name of the Pope and the King in Salamanca’s cathedral (a tradition that would continue until 1830).
During the medieval and modern periods, the university received its funding through royal and papal concessions, and the five colleges of Law, Canon Law, Theology, Medicine and Arts-Philosophy were formed. The university also offered complementary instruction in Humanities, Languages, Mathematics and Music. After the Law of Public Instruction was passed in 1857, the colleges were consolidated into Law, Philosophy and Arts, and Theology (which was subsequently closed in 1868).
Between 1869 and 1904, Salamanca’s local government and Town Council independently financed the schools of Medicine and Sciences, after which state financing was obtained under the rectorship of Miguel de Unamuno. When this source of funding was discontinued, the University turned to registration and academic fees as well as allocations from the state budget to meet its financial needs.
Today, Salamanca University consists of the colleges of Law, Liberal Arts, and Science and Medicine, as well as possessing numerous highly regarded academic units such as its Spanish language institute. The university enjoys an annual population of 30,000 students participating in upwards of 250 academic programs.