September 2008

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Report on the third study on the entrance of graduates from Catalan universities to the labour market. Comments by the Social Council of Barcelona University

Joaquim Coello Brufau - President of the Social Council of Barcelona University

There is an open discussion on whether the university’s client (that is to say, the beneficiary of the university’s work in education) is the student or society.

If we accept that the university carries out an essential service for society, one of the most essential – what can be more important for the development of a country than the training of its citizens? – then, we would have to conclude that the university’s client is society and students are the product.

In any activity (academic, administrative, political or commercial) the key factor is the satisfaction of the recipient of the service, the product or in short the activity. So, in broad terms, the main concern or priority is client satisfaction.

The study on the entrance of graduates from Catalan universities to the labour market shows that society welcomes those leaving university and demands an increasing number of university degrees for its job vacancies. This percentage has risen from 75% to 82% between 2005 and 2008.

This statement can be supported with the following graduate statistics:

  • 93% are in employment
  • the percentage with permanent employment contracts has risen from 53% to 59% between 2005 and 2008
  • graduates rate job satisfaction at 8/10
  • 74% would choose to study the same degree course again

Nonetheless, there are still certain areas that need to be improved as graduates rate the theoretical and practical training they received as "good" and "poor" respectively. They pinpoint the following deficiencies in their training, listed in order of importance:

  • languages
  • computer skills
  • decision making
  • problem solving
  • leadership

Of these areas, there are those that are tied to practical training (languages and computer skills), and others that have close ties to the graduate’s fundamental training:

  • decision making
  • problem solving
  • leadership

This training is tied to subjects and courses that could be classed as generic and that represent a fundamental training more connected to the development of the skills and intellectual and emotional capacity of the students than their specific and specialised training.

These generic subjects are the means of teaching students to think, to synthesise and to analyse, because it is these skills that are necessary to make decisions, solve problems, lead and direct.

These issues should prompt universities to restructure their courses in order to cover the deficiencies identified. The profound transformation that the Bologna Process represents, makes headway as regards these issues: greater contact between student and professor and less emphasis on lectures can improve the professional level of our students but above all improve their intellectual levels.

As regards gender, the study shows that at university women are now the majority in all subjects except for technical subjects. However, women are more likely to face lower remuneration and reduced levels of job security. It is clear that our society, that has evolved in this field over the last few years, still has a long way to go. Without doubt, women will assert their rights in the years to come and in doing so, resolve these inequalities.

A positive step in future studies would be to consult employers, but nevertheless, studies concerning entrance into the labour market must be carried out regularly as only what is measured can be known and universities should always be aware of the reaction and the assessment its client makes as regards its activity.


Generalitat de Catalunya

Via Laietana, 28, 5a planta 08003 Barcelona. Spain. Tel.: +34 93 268 89 50

© 2008 AQU Catalunya - Legal number B-21.910-2008