Carles Solà, the Catalan Education Minister, has called on universities to react to a drop in demand for Spanish university places. Student numbers have been falling since 2000, mainly due to demographic change, but few universities are willing to consider course closures.
Mr Solà said: "Until now, universities have adopted the classic response of launching new degree courses as if, by doing this, the students will somehow appear."
This October, 7 per cent fewer students began higher education in Spain than last year. In Catalonia, 5 per cent fewer students applied for a place in June 2004 than the previous year.
The humanities have been hardest hit but enrolments on science courses have also suffered.
Several courses at Valencia's four universities attracted fewer than ten students each this year.
The Catalan regional Government last week commissioned a study to predict student demand for the next ten years. It will be ready in February. Mr Solà said the study would allow universities to see trends in student demand.
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