10 reasons why Madrid is a global education Hub
We increasingly find ourselves facing the reality of living with what astrophysicists call an event horizon, the point beyond which we cannot know what is happening, because nothing carrying information can travel faster than the speed of light.
We increasingly find ourselves facing the reality of living with what astrophysicists call an event horizon, the point beyond which we cannot know what is happening, because nothing carrying information can travel faster than the speed of light. This type of horizon, uncertain, about which we still lack information, because there are light signals from distant stars that still haven’t reached us, matches the ‘liquid reality’ explained by the Polish thinker Zygmunt Bauman.
Bauman coined the term to describe how solid reality, the fixed image we’re used to living within, has been transformed into a liquid reality, a moving and constantly changing image travelling at light speed that we must adapt to if we aren’t to be consumed by it. Nothing has proved Bauman’s thesis better than this viral storm, in which the life raft of technology offers us a unique opportunity for salvation.
How will this affect Madrid as a global leader in knowledge and education? Let’s take a look at the data to get a solid understanding of the liquid reality we now face.
The OECD’s International Migration Outlook 2018 report highlighted the fact that more than 75,000 foreigners studied their undergraduate and postgraduate university programs in Spain and that more than 3,300 overseas teachers taught in our country, 25% of the Madrid. In recent decades, globalization has opened Madrid’s campuses to Asians and Africans, who have joined American and European students, making Madrid, along with Paris, London and New York, one of the major international education hubs.
Will the post-Covid 19 reality change things? In this liquid environment, nobody knows for sure, but there are ten reasons why the Spanish capital will likely remain an education hub in the coming years, all based on solid economic, logistical, historical and technological data.
1 . A broadband nation
According to the Speedtest Global Index, Spain is among the top 10 of the world’s big countries in terms of broadband speed, along with the United States, France, Sweden, Singapore and Denmark. In Europe, anyone with a connection speed of around 130 Mbps can surf or stream without problems. Internet users in Japan or China enjoy average speeds of around 103 Mbps. In Spain’s major cities, such as Madrid, fiberoptic access is available in 97% homes and businesses.
According to an OECD report on broadband access, 62.53% of broadband lines in Spain are connected by fiberoptics, putting it sixth out of 38 countries. Telefónica has one of the largest fiberoptic networks in the world. As the education sector responds to the reality of the post-pandemic world by moving rapidly toward a liquid model by combining online and face-to-face classes, this type of infrastructure will be essential.
2. Quality, hybrid and innovative education
Spain is among the five countries with the largest number of business schools in the top 50 global ranking. It is estimated to be number one in per capita terms. It is also one of the most digitalized nations. Public and private universities have largely made the leap from offline to online teaching this year, while some, such as IE BUSINESS SCHOOL—whose online MBA is ranked the best in the world by QS and second by FT.com —is the leader in online technologies and methodologies, which has allowed its students to continue their learning uninterrupted. IE Business School has pioneered the use of digital technology for online teaching through its WOW Room.
3. An immunized country
The latest seroprevalence study conducted in Madrid indicates that 11.3% of the population of the Spanish capital has contracted the disease. What was a health challenge at the beginning of the pandemic may, however, be an asset for the future: a report from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York concludes that 99% of people who are infected develop antibodies that will protect them from future infections.
4. An Immunized Society
The initial blow that Madrid suffered in the first phase of the pandemic has also “immunized” society. The health system and society responded well and, in case of possible new outbreaks, the social, business and institutional fabric already knows what to do. Extra hospital capacity, teleworking, social awareness about protection will allow Madrid to respond quickly and effectively to any event for many years to come.
5. One of the best public health systems in the world
In the latest edition of Bloomberg’s Health-Efficiency Index 2018, Spain is recognized as having the most efficient medical care in Europe. It is not the only ranking that places Spain among the best health systems (along with Germany).
6. One of the most competitive private health systems
Spain’s private healthcare system is also among the most competitive in the world. Several companies (Mapfre, Sanitas, Adeslas) offer foreign students insurance with extensive coverage at very affordable prices. Private health insurance is considerably cheaper than in the United States and many other European countries.
7. Urban mobility and social distancing
Madrid is a city of three million people living in a relatively reduced area, but one with plenty of open spaces. In practice, this allows you to live less than 15 minutes from where you are studying, meaning it’s also practical to get around by walking. In addition, the city has a cheap municipal public electric bicycle service and clearly designated bike lanes on major roads, along with several scooter services for hire by the minute. The Ranking of European cities in sustainable transport by Greepeace places Madrid in position 6 above Paris, London, and Berlin.
8. A supportive and safe society
The applause each evening for the country’s health workers reflects a widespread sense of solidarity in Madrid and throughout Spain: neighbors have helped each other with shopping and other tasks, taxi drivers have taken health workers for free, Spanish multinationals such as Iberdrola, Inditex and BBVA have donated personal protection equipment. Spain is among the safest countries in the world, and Madrid is one of Europe’s most safe capitals.
9. A multinational business ecosystem with special ties to Latin America
Spain is one of the largest investors in Latin America, along with the US and China. Tourism, banking, telecommunications, engineering, infrastructure and construction, as well as auto parts, technology consultants, agribusiness, and energy, are some of the sectors led by Spanish and Latin American companies such as Iberdrola, Banco Santander, Telefónica, Antolín and Meliá.
A global market “in Spanish” now exists for highly educated professionals thanks to these companies, which offer international career opportunities. At the same time, the multilatinas are using Madrid as a bridge to the European market. Spanish and Latin American business schools are where the new generation of Spanish-speaking global executives are being educated.
10. A well-connected country open to the world
Madrid is the main air hub between Europe and Latin America, with daily connections to the main Latin American capitals. Spain is a key member of the European Union, allowing foreign students to travel throughout the 26 other member states freely (although this will not apply to the United Kingdom by the end of the year). Furthermore, Spain enjoys good relations within the international community and has no disputes with other nations. Its study visas are very attractive, especially for Latin Americans and Europeans. Perhaps this is why every year more than 75,000 foreign students attend full-time undergraduate or post-graduate university studies, a figure that increases greatly if international exchange programs are included.
We still don’t know what post-pandemic life will be like, but we do know that the rules we once operated by have changed and that we must adapt and grow within a new, liquid reality. The upside is that Madrid is equipped with the life rafts it needs to consolidate its position as a global educational hub and to continue providing students with the skills they will need in the coming years.