The sudden rise in prices in Madrid’s 33 official language schools is down to a decision by Spain’s Education Ministry to introduce a hefty new fee, or “tasazo” as the Spanish press are calling it, included in the price of enrolment.
The new legislation means that the 44.371 students taking language courses at EOI centres in Madrid are having to pay €269 just to enroll – €150 more than in 2011.
“I can’t afford to pay for the course if it’s this expensive,” one student told online daily 20 minutos.
Even though the hike in prices has led many students with fewer financial resources to drop out, demand was still up 5.5 percent in 2013.
“People see having languages on their CVs as a way of improving their job prospects,” EOI Spanish teacher Mariano de Mazo told 20 minutos.
“But those who were taking courses in several languages have had to stick to only one because they simply couldn’t afford it anymore.”
Registration at Catalonia’s official language learning centres is considerably lower than in Spain’s capital - €177, in other words €92 less.
Even Catalan prices are in stark contrast with what language learners have to pay in other Spanish provinces like the Basque Country or La Rioja, where enrolment costs €54, or in the Canary Islands, where it’s a very reasonable €36.
But teachers in Madrid’s government-run language programmes insist they are also suffering as a result of Spain’s Education ministry’s decisions.
“We lost 15 colleagues in two years,” says Caridad Baena, vice principal at the Jesus Maestro centre.
Baena also highlighted that the drop in funds for textbooks and classroom material as well as other ever-increasing spending cuts led the school’s executive committee to resign.
“The Education Ministry say they’re proud of our model, but they keep syphoning off funds to private schools. Their rates are double the price of ours.”
The price increase doesn't affect those studying in private language schools.