The University of Salamanca which, in 2018, will celebrate its 800th Anniversary, is the oldest University in Spain and also one of the oldest in Europe. Its historic character led to its playing a stellar role during the Renaissance. In its lecture halls it led the development of the Spanish language and of international law. New visions of the economy during the dawn of capitalism coincided with traditional studies of theology. The University of Salamanca was present in the intellectual discussion which led to the justification of the conquest of the Native Americans but also of the rights of their people. Its vocation and momentum spread to the other side of the Atlantic, decisively contributing to the founding of American Universities. Its statutes as well as its faculty served as an unavoidable frameworks for them. This extroverted character, with the passage of time, was converted into a stamp of identity which outwardly projected its concern for the spread of Spanish as a Universal language and its desire for openness towards the world, its people and their problems. This legacy has turned into what is now one of the most International Universities in the world.
Each year in the classrooms, libraries and laboratories of the University, students and professionals from more than sixty nationalitiesare brought together. From its agreements with foreign Universities, in the framework of European Erasmus programs or bilateral agreements , its Degree and Postgraduate Programs, its additional courses as well as the University's own qualifications, specific programs for International Courses primarily revolving around the teaching of the Spanish language, the University annually bring together more than six thousand hundreds of non-Spanish teachers and researchers students.
The University of Salamanca prides itself on centering its activity on specialised geographic areas across various institutional levels. Despite the fact that it gives preferential attention to Latin-American countries, because of historical tradition and the fact that a great number of its students come from these countries, the potential of other areas is not ignored.
The Latin American Institute has channeled teaching and research programs in the fields of social sciences and humanities since 1992. In the educational field, it has a Masters which was launched in 1994 and that has continuously generated more than three hundred graduates from forty different countries, and is one of the few concerned with this subject in Spain. Their research projects, financed nationally and internationally through competitive grants, have become a clear example of good work which is also emphasised in their publications in the quarterly peer-reviewed journal “América Latina hoy”. In conjunction with this, it holds first-rate International conferences and seminars which have been attended by the most prestigious researchers and intellectuals.
Similarly, the Centre of Brazilian Studies launched in 1998 centers its activities with Brazil covered by the Hispanic Brazilian Foundation which is supported by both USAL and the Brazilian Embassy in Spain. They emphasise their seminars, exhibitions, conference series and the Diploma in Brazilian Studies which is offered in addition to undergraduate studies.
International Activities are completed with the Hispanic-Japanese Cultural Centre. Founded in 1999, it pursues the assistance of knowledge and cooperation between Japan and Spain, from academic and cultural exchanges to economic relations. For this it works in collaboration with the University of Salamanca Association in Spain, with companies, teaching and research institutions and Japanese and Spanish non-government organizations, as well as with the public administrations of both countries. Amongst its activities are the teaching of the Japanese language, Japanese Culture Week, the offer of courses for professionals and business people, the organisation of artistic and cultural courses, support for higher education, the promotion of research concerned with Japan and East Asia as a whole and, since 2008, the masters in East Asia and Japanese Studies.
Finally, drawing from the existing close relationship with Portugal, the Centre of Iberian Studies in collaboration with the University of Coimbra and the Guarda Chamber of Commerce should be noted for its attention to social and cultural problems in the border region.
The city of Salamanca, where most of the University's activity takes place, is a fundamentally University-focused city where close to thirty thousand students live as part of a population which barely reaches one hundred and seventy thousand inhabitants. The city's beauty, complemented by its size makes walking the most frequent way to get from one place to another. In comparison with larger cities, facilities for finding economical accomodation as well as the low cost of living are other great incentives for choosing to study at USAL. All of these features, which are also shared by USAL's other campuses in Ávila, Béjar y Zamora, bring together a clear atmosphere and a natural and historic environment of great beauty and worth. Its prioximity to Madrid and Lisbon, two and a half hours by car respectively, is also an undoubtable incentive.