January 2009

  • Send
  • Subscribe


First study on the labour market outcomes of doctorate degree holders from catalan universities

Editorial staff - AQU Catalunya

Studies on the labour market outcomes of graduates from Catalan universities, coordinated by AQU Catalunya, have come about through the Agency's collaboration with the universities' social councils to obtain figures and benchmarks on the quality of student employment. Coinciding with the third report, an analysis was made for the first time in 2008 of the labour market outcomes of PhD holders from the public universities in Catalonia (UB, UAB, UPC, UPF, UdG, UdL, URV), corresponding to the 2003 and 2004 cohorts. Out of a population of 1,661,1 interviews were carried out on 934, which is a sample rate of 58%, with a 2% error margin.

Certain characteristics of PhD students in Catalonia should be borne in mind when interpreting the results and, above all, comparing them with those obtained in the analysis of the labour market outcomes of graduate students. Firstly, the distribution according to gender in the PhD and first and second cycle graduate populations: women are in the majority in all postgraduate educational levels, except for the third level in higher education. While 60% of people graduating from the 2003-2004 academic year were women, the percentage for doctoral studies in the same year was 44%.

Secondly, PhD students are the most mature in the university system: they complete their studies at thirty-five on average, after taking between six and seven years overall to obtain their doctorate degree. These two circumstances result in almost all doctoral students, unlike graduates, being in the position of having some kind of employment2 during their studies.

Thirdly, seventy-five per cent of all PhD holders took their doctorate degree at the same university where they obtained their qualifying degree. This results in reduced mobility, which may be attributed to student satisfaction with the university where previous studies have been taken, although it could also indicate a lack of competitiveness in attracting third cycle students.

97% of doctorate degree holders were gainfully employed three years after obtaining their degree

The percentage fluctuates between 99% in the Social Sciences and Engineering & Architecture and 95% in Experimental Sciences, and is slightly higher than the corresponding figure for graduates (93.5%) in the same year.

93% of those employed had full-time employment (between 96% in Engineering & Architecture and 86% in Humanities). This indicator was also more positive than that obtained in the graduate survey (88% in full-time employment). The two indicators (employment rate and full-time employment) would appear to indicate more sound employment outcomes for doctorate degree holders, which is not necessarily linked to the fact that they have a higher degree qualification, but that they are people who have a longer professional career.

The majority (70%) of doctorate degree holders were employed in the public sector. The explanation for this is to be found in the high number of doctorate degree holders who work in the universities (38%) and research centres (19%). 91% of those working at a university are employed in the public sector, 80% of those working in research institutes are at public centres and institutes, whereas only 45% of those working in companies or other institutions are employed in the public sector. These figures show that research in Catalonia is basically carried out in the public sector, either in the universities or research institutes.

In terms of job stability, 61% of all employed doctorate degree holders had a regular job (60% in the case of graduates). Contract stability was not necessarily associated with job quality; lack of job security was highest in the Experimental Sciences, although this subject area also had the highest percentage of doctorate degree holders practicing functions specific to their degree qualification. On the contrary, job stability was high in the Social Sciences, but this subject area had the lowest percentage of doctorate degree holders undertaking job functions specific to their degree qualification.

78% of doctorate degree holders earn more than €24,000 per year

Only 4% earn less than €15,000. Gross annual income was calculated on the basis of the full-time group (93% of the sample, or 784 doctorate degree holders).

A comparison of these figures with those from the graduate employment survey show that the situation of doctorate degree holders is more favourable in all subject areas.

32% of those employed were required to have their doctorate degree qualification in order to obtain their job

This percentage ranged between 52% in Experimental Sciences and 22% in Social Sciences. On the other hand, 96.7% carried out university job functions, a higher percentage than that of first and second cycle graduates (85%).

The workplace is also a determining factor in the degree of suitability of the job functions that they perform. The percentage who were required to have a doctorate degree and who carry out PhD functions ranged between 55% for those working in a research centre or institute and 10% for those working in companies or other institutions.

Doctorate degree holders consider that taking a doctorate degree contributes moderately to professional enhancement (6.1 on a scale of 0 to 10), little in terms of getting new jobs (5,2), and less in terms of greater professional recognition (4,8).

Lastly, doctorate degree holders assessed their satisfaction with job content as being very high (8.1 on a scale of 0 to 10) and with work in general, whereas the usefulness of doctorate-level knowledge was assessed as being high, and prospects for improvement and income satisfaction as being good.

84% of doctorate degree holders would repeat the same doctorate degree

This percentage is 10 points higher than the corresponding figure for graduates. The percentage ranged between 86% in the Health Sciences and Experimental Sciences and 80% in the Social Sciences.

In relation to the specific aspects of the training they received, doctorate degree holders assessed the quality of thesis supervision as being very high, i.e. the effectiveness of their relation with the thesis directors. Doctorate degree holders were also satisfied with the quality of the resources and their availability (bibliography, as well as laboratories, etc.). In terms of classes and seminars, the aspect that was mostly highly valued was the relation with the doctoral teaching staff, although PhD holders were more critical in their assessment of the relevance of classes and seminars, which in many cases was appraised as sufficient.

Related information:

1 Although a total student population of 2,213 was awarded a doctorate degree in 2003 and 2004 from Catalan universities, only the 1,661 Spanish national PhD holders were included. It is worthy of mention that the majority (70%) of the foreign PhD students, which accounted for 22% of the total, were from South and North America, 99% of which were from Latin America.

2 Five possible situations were envisaged: being a grant holder, working as a teacher at university, full-time employment in a job associated with pre-doctoral studies, employment in a non-related job, and not having a job. Only 1.5% of those surveyed were in the latter category.


Generalitat de Catalunya

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

© 2009 AQU Catalunya - Legal number B-21.910-2008