Accreditation of English qualifications

Nov 19, 2020


Accreditation of English qualifications

Accreditation of English Qualifications

Linguistic challenges for the internalization of education in Spain.

Within the framework of the international university of the 21st century, it is necessary to agree on the levels of demand for the English language (and other foreign languages) in order to avoid the enormous heterogeneity that affects both the levels of accreditation and the mechanisms used to do so.

ACLES ( Association of Higher Education Language Centers ) has developed a language proficiency exam model, endorsed by the CRUE and CERCLES, which requires the passing of the four skills to obtain the corresponding level of the CEFR .

 There are universities that do not have any language requirements. In other cases, such as Andalusia, where a B1 is required in all universities (Circular DGU-Junta de Andalucía 2010), or Catalonia, which has established a B2 requirement to obtain the undergraduate degree (DOGC 6551 of January 30 2014), these issues have been regulated by regional regulations.

Some autonomous communities, such as the Valencian Community (DOCV May 20, 2013), Aragon (BOA December 3, 2014) and Catalonia (DOGC of June 2, 2015) have regulated the verification of the linguistic requirement.

It should also be noted that in Catalonia and Andalusia, universities, through commissions created for this purpose and with the support of their respective autonomous governments, already work in coordination when it comes to accrediting levels of knowledge of foreign languages.

In the specific case of Spain, in 2011 the CRUE supported the creation of five Linguistic Tables (German, English, French, Spanish for foreigners and Portuguese) in close cooperation with ACLES7 with the mission of “unifying criteria when it comes to accredit levels of knowledge of different foreign languages, thus facilitating mobility between Spanish universities and their internationalization ”(ACLES, 2014: 9). The ultimate objective was the coordination of the criteria used in the different universities and the elaboration of recommendations on the level exams and certificates and the application of agreements in relation to the accreditation of language levels. In this context, accreditation is understood as passing a proficiency test, excluding other procedures such as taking courses,

Student Accreditation

The mechanisms used to accredit the different levels fluctuate greatly, and range from internal tests (designed by the university itself), through stays abroad (Erasmus program or others), to the achievement of a number of credits in English or the completion international exams (Cambridge, TOEFL, etc.) or CertAcles9 tests.

In the specific case of degrees offered in English (and other foreign languages), a growing number of universities are beginning to require an entry level or threshold level to successfully study subjects in language).

 For master's degrees, for example, the level of demand ranges from a B1 to a C1, although decisions about the levels depend largely on the different centers or degrees, the law of supply and demand, as well as the type of discipline in question.

Regarding the requirements to participate in mobility programs, once again we find a great disparity.

Spanish Universities

The agreement on the accreditation of foreign languages ​​signed by Andalusian universities in 2011 (and recently updated) includes languages ​​such as Finnish, Hebrew, Japanese, Dutch or Polish, for which there are no Linguistic Tables or recognition agreements in ACLES .

For foreign students studying in Spain, there is also a lack of consensus, as according to data from the ELE Linguistic Board (September 2014) only 53% of the universities demanded a Spanish language requirement and of these 95% stated that they did not verify it, or restrict access. Finally, at the level of international mobility, the universities that recommend an entry level or that value the students who accredit it are predominant.

In view of this situation and in order to unify criteria, it would be advisable to implement the following measures:

  1. Recommend that the minimum level of foreign language to obtain the undergraduate degree is B1 in the different skills, without prejudice to the fact that universities may require a higher level in the degrees that require it.
  2. Establish in bilingual / multilingual degrees a defined linguistic path with differentiated access profiles and linguistic exit level higher than B1.
  3. Ensure the rigor of the accreditation and verification processes, consulting with the commissions that Spanish universities have provided for this purpose, the CRUE and ACLES Language Tables, and respecting the decisions of these commissions.
  4. Facilitate the recognition between universities of accreditation mechanisms for access to studies, mobility programs and obtaining degrees.

There are huge divergences between universities both in terms of whether or not teachers are required to have a certain level of linguistic competence, as well as in the level required if such a requirement exists (B1 to C1) and in the way of verifying it (linguistic test, observation in the classroom, self-report, attendance at training course, etc.). In this case, unlike what happens with the student body, there are no guidelines or recommendations whatsoever on the part of the Autonomous Communities or the Ministry itself (for now).


Bazo, P., A. Centellas, E. Dafouz, A. Fernández, D. González and V. Pavón 

Framework Document of Language Policy for the Internationalization of the Spanish University System. CRUE Spanish Universities.

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