Spain’s amendment to its General Social Security Law, particularly through the Royal Decree-Law 2/2023, signifies a pivotal policy evolution. Effective from January 1, 2024, this amendment mandates the inclusion of students in internships or external academic practices within training programs into the Social Security system. This development carries substantial implications for students, educational institutions, and host organizations, especially within the Erasmus+ program.
Legal Framework and Recent Developments
The Royal Decree-Law 2/2023 modifies the consolidated text of the General Social Security Law. This is part of broader measures for enhancing pensioners’ rights, reducing the gender gap, and ensuring the sustainability of the public pension system. In the context of the General State Budget Law for 2023 (Law 31/2022), these changes also align with broader labour and employment regulations in Spain.
Scope of Application
The law applies to:
- University students engaged in internships for official degree programs, including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, as well as university-specific qualifications like diplomas of specialization.
- Vocational training students, except those in intensive training programs.
Important Clarification for International Student Mobility
A crucial aspect to highlight is the applicability of this law to international student mobility. According to the recent informative note, the regulation that came into effect on January 1, 2024, does not apply to international students from foreign universities or vocational training centres undertaking internships in Spanish institutions or companies. These students are part of educational programs at their respective centres and are thus exempt from this new mandate. This clarification is essential for educational institutions hosting international students within the Erasmus+ program or other international academic exchanges.
Impact on Erasmus+ Program
The regulation directly influences the Erasmus+ program’s student mobility for internships:
- It applies to all students (regardless of nationality) from Spanish educational institutions participating in Erasmus+ and moving to another country for internships.
- The entity financing the training program is responsible for fulfilling Social Security obligations, acting as the employer for this purpose.
- Exemptions are provided for internships conducted in the year following graduation, provided they are not part of another degree program.
- Special provisions are made for students with “Beca 0” (no financial aid), where the sending institutions must register these students in the Social Security system.
Social Security will cover 95% of the contributions for all students mentioned above. For non-university education, the Ministry of Education, Vocational Training, and Sports will cover the remaining 5% in 2024. The application of these provisions to extracurricular internships is yet to be clarified.
Erasmus+ Programme Guide 2024
The Erasmus+ Programme Guide for 2024 offers a comprehensive overview of opportunities and requirements for participants, including financial aspects like grants and varying subsistence costs. This guide is essential for understanding the program’s scope and financial support mechanisms. Source: Erasmus+ Programme Guide
FAQs and Guidance for Educational Institutions
Universities such as Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) provide FAQs and guidance on the Social Security system inclusion for internship students. These resources clarify the process and timeline for student inclusion in the system from January 1, 2024. Source: UPF FAQs
The integration of Erasmus+ students into the Spanish Social Security system is a landmark step in ensuring their welfare and rights during educational pursuits. While it brings additional responsibilities for educational institutions and funding entities, it also offers enhanced protection and benefits for students. The comprehensive resources available, including the Erasmus+ Programme Guide and institutional FAQs, provide valuable support for navigating these changes.
For further information, refer to the Social Security News Bulletin of July 6, 2023, and consult with territorial Education Councils and the General Directorate of the Social Security Treasury or its provincial offices for specific queries regarding student registration.