July 2014


Just released - the findings of the fifth survey on graduate labour market outcomes

Martí Casadesús Fa - Director, AQU Catalunya

Once every three years AQU Catalunya coordinates the launch and analysis of the survey on the labour market outcomes (destinations) of graduates from Catalan universities, a study that is funded by the public universities, through their boards of trustees, partner and affiliated institutions and AQU Catalunya. I need hardly stress the scope of the survey, with more than 25,000 graduates interviewed this year, and its timeliness given the major crisis in the country at the present time. Neither is it necessary for me in this editorial to talk about the proven methodology used in the survey nor its impact, which is widely publicised and important.

I would however like to point out two new aspects, which have led to the project making yet another step forwards this year. Firstly, the involvement of practically all the university system in Catalonia, not just all the public and private universities, but also twenty-four partner and affiliated institutions; and secondly the inclusion in the survey of graduates of Master's degrees, so that the survey now covers all of the existing levels of study at university. This means that, for the very first time and in what represents a pioneering initiative, the survey will include practically all graduates of degree courses at the universities in Catalonia.

I won't go into the details of the findings here, as these are commented on elsewhere in this newsletter, and more extensively in the AQU Catalunya newsletter, but I would like to first note something that we are convinced about, and that is evident from the survey, namely, that studying at university really does pay off. In addition to the obvious advantage of being educated to a higher level, the possibilities of finding a job, job quality (permanent/temporary, salary, etc.) and job satisfaction all increase. The survey also confirms that, in spite of the very high levels of youth unemployment here, graduates have not only suffered less from the crisis, but the increase in graduate unemployment has also been lower compared to other young people with lower levels of education. In addition it should be pointed out that, while certain areas of improvement in university studies have been identified, in particular certain competences that the universities have to deal with year after year, it is also clear that in each survey there is a decrease in the difference between what the universities offer and what society requires in general. And over and above all of this, one very revealing piece of information, which is that the great majority of graduates in Catalonia are satisfied with their universities studies. What better than an indicator that shows that our graduates would again take the same degrees that they studied for at a Catalan university.

One shouldn't become compacent, however, quite the contrary, we need to see what can be done to improve and enhance each degree course. And it is here that I want to point out the third main section of information in the survey. Just like the first and second sections, where reference is made to aspects that have an "impact that is highly newsworthy", i.e. employment and job satisfaction, the third refers specifically to learning and therefore the universities themselves. The universities need to read and understand this much more from an internal perspective. More specifically, this section deals with each degree course that is delivered on an individual basis and underlines its strengths and weaknesses. This information now offers us an in-depth analysis of the university system in Catalonia that, as far as we know, is not available anywhere else. The survey provides us with priviledged information for the entire university system, which will help prospective students to choose their degrees and, above all, the university authorities (in particular deans, programme coordinators, etc.) to improve and enhance degree courses in a continuous way.

I can safely say that, with a survey of these characteristics, we are leading the way at both national and European levels. Best use needs to be made of it by all, with the analysis of the fine details, interpretation and necessary caution, so that it serves us on a day-to-day basis in making a university system that is even better.

This analysis is our responsibility, and it begins with the data and figures on the First and Second degree cycles and doctoral degrees that have just been published on the AQU Catalunya website a few days ago. The results of the survey on graduates of Master's programmes are still to come in, and we expect these to be released before the end of the year.


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