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National Distance Education University
Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)
MottoOmnibus mobilibus mobilior sapientia
BudgetEUR230 million (2012)[1]
RectorAlejandro Tiana Ferrer
Administrative staff
Various cities.
Spain (headquarters)
CampusDistance learning

The National Distance Education University, known in Spanish as Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), is a distance learning and research university founded in 1972 and is the only university run by the central government of Spain. It has headquarters in Madrid, Spain, with campuses in all Spanish autonomous communities. In addition, there are 14 study centres, and 3 exam points, in 13 countries in Europe, Americas and Africa. The University awards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, as well as non-degree qualifications such as diplomas and certificates, or continuing education units.

UNED combines traditional onsite education with distance learning programs. With over 260,000 students,[2] UNED is the largest university in Spain and the second largest in Europe.[3]

Origins and methodology

UNED was founded in 1972 following the idea of the UK's Open University to provide quality higher and continuing education opportunities to all through a distance education system. It awards the same qualifications as other Spanish universities and has the same entry requirements. This implies that it is not "Open". Even though the study is at distance, admissions are as strict as for "onsite" education and exams are supervised as in the other Spanish universities. However, some special features of UNED make it different from most other Spanish universities: it is nationwide in scope, and has a wide social influence with radio and TV programming.

International presence

UNED's mission is to be present as a centre of excellence throughout the world. UNED currently has 61 study centres in Spain and 14 abroad, thanks to the co-operation of local institutions. These centres provide face-to-face sessions with professors once a week. The international centres are in Bata, Bern, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Frankfurt, Lima, London, Malabo, Mexico City, Paris and São Paulo. Additionally, there are exam points in Bogotá, Berlin, New York, Rome and Santiago de Chile.


Later 2012 the Spanish newspaper El País featured the story about the launch of UNX, a new online platform for teaching entrepreneurship through building mobile apps with App Inventor. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Mobile Learning is a collaborating partner in this project, along with Spanish partners UNED. The UNX online courses are intended to bring open learning about technology and entrepreneurship to the entire Spanish-speaking world.[4]

Academic profile


A number of factors have been cited to justify the public prestige of UNED:[5]

  • All of UNED exams are supervised
  • Exams must encompass the entirety of the program
  • Students are objectively graded based on a strictly uniform test
  • Distance learning requires additional self-teaching effort and discipline, highly regarded by employers
  • Students from UNED are more likely to continue their education and research after graduation day, applying the self-teaching methodologies learned during their studies[]

The university maintains an excellent standard of higher education: in the last 30 years, it has awarded almost 2,000 PhD degrees.[6]

Its international prestige is also illustrated by the fact that, since 1997, UNED has held the UNESCO chair in distance education which promotes research, development and documentation in the field of distance education.[]



Today, UNED comprises 11 faculties and the following bachelor's degree studies:[7]

  • Higher Technical School of Computer Engineering at UNED: Bachelor's Degree in Computer Engineering, Bachelor's Degree in Engineering Information Technology
  • College of Industrial Engineering: Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering, Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Technologies Engineering, Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering, Bachelor's Degree in Engineering in Industrial Electronics and Automation
  • Faculty of Sciences: Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science, Bachelor's Degree in Physics, Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics, Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry
  • Faculty of Economics and Business Administration: Bachelor's Degree in Economics, Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and Management, Bachelor's Degree in Tourism
  • Faculty of Political Science and Sociology: Bachelor's Degree in Sociology, Bachelor's Degree in Political Science & Public Administration
  • Faculty of Law: Bachelor's Degree in Law, Bachelor's Degree in Social Work, Bachelor's Degree in Juridical Science of Public Administration
  • Faculty of Education: Bachelor's Degree in Social Education, Bachelor's Degree in Pedagogy
  • Faculty of Philology: Bachelor's Degree in Spanish Language and Literature, Bachelor's Degree in English Studies: Language, Literature and Culture
  • Faculty of Philosophy: Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy, Bachelor's Degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology
  • Faculty of Geography and History: Bachelor's Degree in Geography and History, Bachelor's Degree in Art History
  • Faculty of Psychology: Bachelor's Degree in Psychology


  • Higher Technical School of Computer Engineering at UNED:[8] Computer Systems and Languages,Advanced Artificial Intelligence: Principles, Methods and Applications, Communication, Networks and Content Management,Systems and Control Engineering
  • College of Industrial Engineering: Research in Industrial Technology, Research in Electrical, Electronic and Industrial Control Engineering, Advanced Manufacturing Engineering, Design Engineering
  • Faculty of Sciences: Chemical Science and Technology, Polymer Science and Technology, Advanced Mathematics, Medical Physics, Physics of Complex Systems
  • Faculty of Economics and Business Administration: Corporate Sustainability and Social, Responsibility
  • Faculty of Political Science and Sociology, Social Problems, Politics and Democracy,
  • Faculty of Law: Government Intervention in Society, European Union, Fundamental Rights, Security, Insurance Law, Human Rights, Public Management, Public Finance, Public Policy and Taxation
  • Faculty of Education Educational Treatment of Diversity, Communication and Education on the Internet: From the Information Society to the Knowledge Society, Innovation and Research in Education, Training of E.S.O., Bachillerato, F.P. and Language Secondary Teachers, Strategies and Technologies for the Teaching Function in the Multicultural Society
  • Faculty of Philology English Literature and Culture and their Social Impact, Literary and Theatre Training and Research in the European Context, The Classical World and its Influence on Western Culture, Applied English Linguistics, Hispanic Literatures (Catalan, Galician and Basque) in the European Context, Language Science and Hispanic Linguistics, Grammatical and Stylistic Analysis of Spanish, Dictionary Development and Quality Control of the Spanish Lexicon, French and Francophone Studies, Information Technologies and Communication in Language Education and Processing
  • Faculty of Philosophy :Theoretical and Practical Philosophy
  • Faculty of Geography and History : Advanced Methods and Techniques of Historical, Artistic and Geographic Research, Contemporary Spain in the International Context
  • Faculty of Psychology :Methodology of Behavioral Sciences and Health, Research in Psychology, Psychological Intervention in Development and Education


Notable current and former academics

Notable alumni

Honorary doctors

1985-1990 1991-2000 2001-2010 2011-present


  2. ^ La UNED Hoy. National University of Distance Education.
  3. ^ See List of largest universities by enrollment.
  4. ^ "Search - Guni Network". www.guninetwork.org.
  5. ^ Campus de Santiago e Lugo. University of Santiago de Compostela (USC).[dead link]
  6. ^ Educación[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ http://portal.uned.es/portal/page?_pageid=93,24323729,93_24323730&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL
  8. ^ http://portal.uned.es/portal/page?_pageid=93,24323743,93_24323744&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

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