Catalan is the the language that is in general use for both teaching and administrative activities in Catalan universities. The statutes of the different universities recognise Catalan as an official language, and include Spanish alongside Catalan on the basis of an equal right of the university community to use either language.
Teaching staff and students have the right to express themselves in the official language that they prefer in any teaching situation.
For those students from outside of the Catalan-speaking territory, learning the Catalan language is very simple if they have prior knowledge of another Romance language. Every university offers free or subsidised language classes, often before the start of the academic year, to enable students to understand the language spoken in their classes, at the university and, fundamentally, in the city. Students are not required to speak Catalan, but they are expected to be able to understand it.
Approximately 60% of the classes in our universities are taught in Catalan. The language in which each subject is taught is public information that usually appears in the study guides. The majority of universities do not provide two sets of classes—one in Catalan and the other in Spanish—for students from elsewhere. Instead, Catalan students study alongside those from outside Catalonia, which is an enriching experience for all concerned.
The universities also offer courses in Spanish as a foreign language, but these courses are not always free or subsidised. It is becoming increasingly clear that students arriving in Catalonia already have sufficient knowledge of Spanish and in any case they can perfect their Spanish. This enables them to make the most of their time in Catalonia to begin learning Catalan.
It is a good idea to make the most of the induction programmes offered at all of the universities, which include welcome parties, the chance to organise a language exchange to practice the language you are learning, and cultural excursions.
If you do not want to miss our on the social life and culture of our cities, it is a good idea to learn Catalan, because you will soon begin to feel part of the community and you will be able to take part in the large numbers of activities on offer. Once you have learned just a little Catalan, you will have plenty of opportunities to practice, both within and outside the university!