Service-Learning in Spain
The beginning of service-learning in Spanish higher education is in the year 2000. The 2000-2010 decade was characterized by the rapid growth in the number of service-learning experiences that were developed in universities. In 2001, the Conference of Rectors of the Spanish Universities published a statement in which it considers that the University must assume a leading role in human development processes, exploring and implementing new strategies aimed at building a more just and participatory society through volunteering, cooperation and work in the third sector. The 2015 University Strategy of the Ministry of Education, which framed the modernization process of the Spanish Higher Education, urged to prepare for contributing to the promotion of the new social model and to incorporate in its formative model teaching and learning practices that adequately integrate the preparation for the professional practice and for the exercise of social responsibility of its students and graduates. This framework favoured the start of institutionalization processes in some institutions. In 2015, six universities, out of a total of 87, already had formal service-learning policies at the central level.
The University Service-Learning Network was created in 2010 with the support of the Institute of Education Sciences (ICE) of the University of Barcelona. This network, which holds an annual conference, aims to promote the meeting, exchange and joint work for the promotion, recognition and improvement of service-learning projects in higher education. In 2017, the University Service-Learning Association was created with the aim of constituting a legal entity that contributes to strengthening the practice and research of service-learning.
At present, service-learning in Spain is no longer a set of individual initiatives, as it is becoming sustained in more stable structures. Not only service-learning is worked in a considerable number of public and private universities, but significant steps are being taken in the institutionalization of this methodology in the universities, where structures are being created to facilitate service learning.