No. 536.
Mr. Cushing to Mr. Fish.

No. 411.]

Sir: I annex hereto copy and translation of a decree of the 4th instant, on the subject of unofficial, as distinguished from official, instruction. It is complementary to the decree communicated and commented on in my No. 345, and further elucidated in my No. 354; and while it serves to confirm the appreciations of the question set forth in those dispatches, it completes the contradiction of the misrepresentations on the subject which a few busy persons, interested in maintaining abuses, had propagated in Paris and London. Prior to the issue of these decrees, public instructions in Spain and preparation for professional pursuits were in the same state of anarchy, imperfectly attempered by occasional spasms of arbitrariness, with everything else in Spain. What was called free instruction was a mere cover for the fabrication of advocates, physicians, and other professional persons who were making display of degrees gained without serious study, and who, while destitute of any real instruction, were imposing themselves on the community, to its prejudice and to that of all true science and merit. The evil attained such proportions that while the competition for professional employment had enormously increased, it had become the practice for the government and the municipalities, in advertising for applications, to give notice of the exclusion of aspirants of this class. The present decree, while it completes the system of professional instruction, legalizing private institutions in which all persons are free to teach and to learn outside of the official institutions, makes provision to guard against the abuse of mercenary trade in diplomas on the part of self-constituted professors, who have not taught, and pretended students who have not learned, while otherwise leaving the entire field of knowledge open to all the worlds unembarrassed by the limitations which rightfully apply to the public institutions maintained by the state.

I have, &c.,

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[Inclosure 1 in No. 411.—Translation.]

Decree of June 4, 1875, regulating professional instruction.

[From the “Gaceta de Madrid,” June 5, 1875.]


Sire: Upon the initiation, in the decrees of July 29 and September 29, 1874, of the re-organization of the public studies, without prejudice thereby to the liberty of instruction, the government of that epoch announced its purpose to give validity to those studies which might have been privately pursued by means of a series of examinations which it did not eventually determine, and great has been the public expectation and continual the incitations and the inquiries addressed to the minister of fomento with respect to that important matter. The moment has at length arrived for satisfying this desire, maintaining, as the government of Your Majesty solemnly has offered to do in previous documents, the concurrence of private studies side by side with the official courses, without prejudice to the guarantees and proofs of fitness which it is indispensable to require in order that all the titles conferred by the state may have the same value and inspire equal confidence in the public. With this object the undersigned minister, aided by the efficient and intelligent co-operation of the council of public instruction, has studied the two principal points of the examinations and literary exercises to which are to be submitted those students who, having pursued private studies, seek to obtain academical, degrees, and of the organization of the juries before which those examinations are to take place, and has the honor to-day to submit to the superior judgment of Your Majesty the result of his labor.

In that which concerns the organization of the tribunals, in view of the difficulty of finding the large number of persons competent for the discharge of a mission of such importance which would be necessary, the undersigned believes it expedient to adopt in-this instance the criterion which has prevailed in the existing regulations for competitive examinations for professorships, proposing that the said tribunals shall operate only in Madrid when treating of the proofs of aptitude for obtaining degrees and titles in the several faculties and in the superior or professional school, and in the capital of the university district wherein there may be faculties or chairs of letters and sciences pertaining to the object of the examination, when treating of the degrees of bachelor and of titles of professional specialties. It has also appeared just to give participation in the juries in almost equal proportion to the official professors and to the representatives of private instruction, provided, however, that the latter possess an academical diploma guaranteeing their fitness for so difficult a charge. Unofficial instruction may in this manner have access to the juries, and the government proposes to give attention to it in proportion to the development and importance which it is steadily acquiring, exercising to the benefit of its directors and professors of the several faculties the free choice which is reserved to it in the proportion fixed in the present decree. In that which concerns the proofs of sufficiency which ought to be exacted of the applicants, it has seemed wisest to divide them into two classes: partial and analytical with respect to the courses of study of each group, concrete and synthetical for the academical degrees and for titles of professional specialties. The applicants, therefore, will have to submit themselves in the first place to examination upon courses of study, and after having obtained approbation in all of those courses, to the exercises corresponding to the respective degrees sought. All these acts shall be public, and the lessons upon which the questions of the judges are to be based shall be drawn by lot, conformably with the method adopted for official examinations by the decree of May 14. The qualifications required ought also to be equal to those which govern official instruction. And lastly, assuming the great difficulty which exists in the way of holding permanent tribunals, the examinations for giving validity to private studies shall be limited to two epochs of the year, distinct from those designated for the schools of the state.

Such, sire, are the bases upon which it has appeared to the government of Your Majesty fitting to found a genuine and profitable innovation in the legislation of public instruction, without the prejudices for society in general and for the students in particular which were inseparable from the system of absolute liberty. Without full confidence of having attained this end, but assured of having endeavored to do so, and of having taken the first step in a path which may lead to important and solid advancements, the undersigned has now the high honor of submitting to Your Majesty the following project of a decree.

Sire, at the royal feet of Your Majesty,

The minister of fomento,


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royal decree.

In attention to the reasons set forth to me by my minister of fomento,

I hereby decree the following:

  • Article 1. The tribunals which are to have cognizance in the examinations and literary exercises to which are submitted those who, having pursued private courses of study, make application to receive academical degrees, shall be held only in Madrid when treating of the proofs of aptitude to obtain degrees and diplomas in the several faculties, superior schools, and professional schools, and in the capitals of those university districts wherein there may be faculties or professorships of letters or sciences analogous to those which may be the subject of the examination when treating of the degrees of bachelor and diplomas of professional specialties.
  • Art. 2. The tribunals shall sit in the months of April and November of each year, during the time necessary for the termination of the examinations and exercises of degrees and diplomas of the candidates presenting themselves.
  • Art. 3. The number of voting members who are to constitute the tribunals of examination shall be five in those corresponding to faculties and superior or professional schools, and seven in those pertaining to the degree of bachelor and diplomas of professional specialties.
  • Art. 4. A member of the council of public instruction, who shall not be a professor-inactive service, shall preside over the tribunals of examination corresponding to faculties and superior or professional schools; a person distinguished for his learning, who shall not belong to either public or private instruction, to be selected by the government from among three proposed by the rector of the district, shall preside over those of the degree of bachelor and diplomas of professional specialties.
  • Art. 5. Of the four voting members who, with the president, are to form part of the tribunal of superior and professional studies, two shall be numerary professors of courses of study comprised in the group under examination, and the remaining two shall be freely chosen by the government among persons who, while not belonging to the official system of instruction, are possessed of the requisites of being members of the royal academies, doctors, licentiates, who may hold corresponding superior diplomas, exercising their profession with recognized credit, or who may be dedicated to private instruction with superior academical diploma. The government shall designate also two voting members besides, one of each class, who may be substituted for the foregoing in case of absence, sickness, or vacancy.
  • Art. 6. Of the six voting members who, with the president, are to form each one of the two tribunals for the degree of bachelor or diplomas of professional specialties, three shall be numerary professors of corresponding courses of study, and the remaining three shall be freely chosen by the government among persons who, while not being enrolled among official professors, may be doctors or licentiates in letters or sciences, according to the group of courses of study, who may hold diplomas of professional specialty corresponding to the examination, if this be for such specialties, or diplomas of a faculty or of architect, for those corresponding to the sciences. The government shall also designate two voting members besides, one for each class, who may be substituted for the foregoing in case of absence, sickness, or vacancy.
  • Art. 7. Until the programmes, whereof the fifth article of the royal decree of February 25 last speaks, shall be published, the tribunals shall limit themselves in the examination of the candidates to the extension given to the corresponding courses of instruction in the universities, superior or professional schools and institutes.
  • Art. 8. The proofs of sufficiency shall be partial and analytical with respect to the studies of each group, concrete and synthetical with relation to the academical degrees and professional diplomas.
  • Art. 9. The candidates shall satisfy one-half of the matriculation fees prescribed by the laws for the official alumni, making the payment, upon approbation, when the examination of all the groups are terminated and before the exercises of the degree. The candidate, on presenting himself to the tribunals, shall produce proof that he has paid twenty-five pesetas for examination fees in each group of courses of study or of exercises for degrees.
  • Art. 10. The candidates shall, before the proofs of aptitude necessary to obtain a degree or diploma, produce evidence that they have received that which precedes it in the academical series, conformably to the prescriptions of the law.
  • Art. 11. The candidates shall be submitted, first, to examination in the several courses of study; second, to the exercises of the respective degree after having been approved in all the preceding examinations.
  • Art. 12. The examinations upon the several courses of study shall be conducted in the different academical studies in the following groups and form:

higher instruction—degree of bachelor.

  • First group.—Primary instruction, Latin and Spanish, rhetoric and poetry.
  • Second group.—Geography, general history, history of Spain, psychology, logic, and ethics.
  • Third group.—Arithmetic and algebra, geometry and trigonometry.
  • Fourth group.—Physics and chemistry, natural history, physiology and hygiene.

diplomas of professional specialties—experts.

  • First group.—Primary studies and preparatory or preliminary courses of studies essential to the special branch.
  • Second group— Theoretico practical courses pertaining to such specialty. Third group.—Practical studies completing the same.

professional titles.

The groups of courses of study corresponding to these respective titles shall be made in the order of, and with subjection to, the programmes published on the 20th of September, 1858.

degrees of faculties and titles of superior schools.

The groups of courses of study which constitute the faculties and superior schools in addition to the sections which each one may have, shall be those which may be permitted by the conception and nature of its teachings, the first group being composed of the courses of study of the preparatory year or years in the faculties, and schools which now exist, and the remaining groups comprising the concluding courses according to the respective matters taught.

  • Art. 13. The candidates for degrees or diplomas under the prescriptions of this educational scheme shall perform in equal form and number the exercises which the laws prescribe for those of the official system, paying the same fees as the latter for the issue of the diploma.
  • Art. 14. All the ceremonies shall be public, and announced beforehand on the bulletin-board of the respective establishments.
  • Art. 15. The minimum of duration of the examination shall be twenty minutes for each course of study comprised in the group, and an interval of eight days shall elapse between the several sessions.
  • Art. 16. At the time of each examination there shall be publicly drawn by lot four lessons from the general programme of each course of study, which shall be the subject of the questions put by the jurors.
  • Art. 17. Approbation in any one exercise shall not be sufficient by itself alone to give academical validity to the courses of study comprised therein.
  • Art. 18. The qualifications of the examinations shall be equal to those of the official alumni, and the candidate who may be suspended can only on payment of new examination-fees repeat his examination at the meeting next following. Suspension in any one group of courses of study or exercise twice in succession annuls the approbation, of all the groups and exercises preceding it in the respective academical degree.
  • Art. 19. On the termination of any examination or exercise the decision shall be immediately made public, and that of suspension, which may be incurred by the candidates for approbation in the higher grades of study, must be communicated officially to the other universities wherein like examinations may be held, in order to prevent the candidates from repeating new examinations during the period of suspension.
  • Art. 20. The secretaries of universities or corresponding establishments shall draw up under their own responsibility the expediente of identification of the candidate, it being the duty of the same to present it to the tribunal of examination, he being, however, authorized to delegate his powers to the chief clerk in the secretary’s office of the respective faculty, school, or institute.


The minister y fomento,

Manuel de Orovio.