Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia

Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia

National University of Distance Education
Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)
Motto Omnibus mobilibus mobilior sapientia
Established 1972
Type Public
Budget €230 million (2012)[1]
Rector Alejandro Tiana Ferrer
Admin. staff 12,782
Students 260,079
Undergraduates 178.601
Postgraduates 7,405
Location Various cities.
, Spain (headquarters)
Campus Distance learning
Website UNED

The National University of Distance Education, 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, applies the most advanced teaching technologies and has a wide social influence with radio and TV programming.

UNED is a university where distance is no object for the fact that, through its educational methodology, UNED is the only university that offers the possibility of obtaining formal qualifications adapted to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) from anywhere in the world. Likewise, UNED is the only university with centers in the Americas, Africa, Europe and all the Autonomous Communities of Spain; finally, training at UNED is carried out using new technologies, principally the Internet.[4]

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.[5]

Academic profile

Teaching methods

UNED features the most complete and advanced methodology for distance learning, putting a whole range of measures and human resources at the disposal of students to enable autonomous learning tailored to their needs and schedules. Based on the use of active methodologies in which students are the protagonist of their own learning, this system is the underlying concept of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) for the training of professionals capable of taking up the challenges of the knowledge society.

UNED provides instruction by means of a distance learning modality characterized by the use of a specific didactic methodology. The methodology combines the use of print and audiovisual media with that of new technologies, especially virtual learning communities. There are also various systems of communication between professors and students as well as on-site assistance to students from professor-tutors at the Centers.

This methodology is detailed in the items below:

  • Human resources for student support: In the Faculties, teaching teams are responsible for the assessment of learning and the preparation of programs and teaching materials. The student receives support from professors online, by telephone or via videoconference. Should they wish, students can attend tutorials at the Associated Centers given by specialized tutors. Associated Centers also facilitate the formation of study and working groups made up of students from the same center. The student can develop those activities through a virtual Platform (ALF), where the university community can exchange information, material, documents, etc. More than 1,400 public employees make the operation of the University possible and provide the necessary support for teaching and research staff to carry out their work under the most optimal conditions.
  • Printed, audiovisual and multimedia materials: Printed materials (texts and study guides) specially designed for autonomous learning, and a very wide range of audiovisual and multimedia materials developed by UNED (videos, CDs, DVDs). Audiovisual Media like radio, educational television and the UNED Channel (online radio and TV - [1]). UNED students are integrated into a broader virtual community where they have access to various online services that respond to their needs (e.g., virtual courses, virtual study communities and virtual library and administrative department). Each course has its own virtual domain with activities, supplementary materials, self-assessment tools, and chats and forums, allowing students to communicate with teaching staff, tutors and classmates. Students can also join online work and study communities formed by classmates at any Center.
  • Carrying out the in-person exams at the Associated Centers: Examinations are written by teaching teams at the Faculties and distributed to all Associated Centers by virtual pouch. All conducted examinations are returned to the corresponding teaching teams for evaluation.


A number of factors have been cited to justify the public prestige of UNED:[6]

  • 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.[7]

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:[8]

  • 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:[9] 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 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