July 2017


The value of the graduate employment outcomes survey

Josep Joan Moreso - President

The public universities in Catalonia, through their Social Councils, together with the private universities and 31 affiliated and partner schools and institutes all participated in the sixth survey and study of the employment outcomes of graduates from universities in Catalonia (2017), coordinated by AQU Catalunya.

During the first three months of 2017 survey interviews were carried out of graduates of Bachelor-level, Master's and doctoral programmes who completed their studies approximately three years ago. We are most grateful to the 28,294 people who took the time (10 minutes) to complete the survey and, at the same time, provide the universities in Catalonia with a highly valuable instrument for improving and enhancing programmes of study.

The graduate employment outcomes survey has a solid and robust background. The first survey was carried out sixteen years ago and since then there have been six surveys of Bachelor programme graduates, four of doctoral programme graduates and 2 Master's graduate surveys. All together, more than 100,000 information records have been produced, which in the latest survey have been organised and made available online in a new browser, EUCdades.1

A la second series in 2017 of the Centre for Opinion Polls' Political Opinion Barometer (Generalitat de Catalunya), it was the universities that obtained, out of all institutions, the highest level of trust in Catalan society, with a rating of 6.51 out of 10. Although different hypotheses could be invoked to explain why this is so, the graduate employment outcomes survey provides some insight.

A comparison between data from the Labour Force Survey for Spain (EPA) on the reference population aged 25-44 and the results of the graduate employment outcomes survey shows, firstly, that the higher a person's level of education, the higher the probability of their being in employment and, secondly, that Catalan universities are a driver of distinctive employability. If one examines the employment rate for all comparable levels of education, the rate for graduates of Catalan universities three years after completing their studies is higher on all levels than the national rate.

Employment rate (%) Primary education or lower Secondary education Professional higher Bachelor Master's Doctorate/PhD
Labour Force Survey for Spain (EPA) 48,9% 68,4% 79,4% 82,6% 84,2% 90,5%
AQU Catalunya       89,3% 90,5% 93,4%
Difference AQU-EPA       + 6,7 pp* + 6,3 pp + 2,9 pp

*Percentage points.


As described very clearly in the survey reports, a summary of which is given in this newsletter, the studies show that the higher the level of education, the higher the proportion of graduates with graduate-level job responsibilities, stable full-time contracts and higher salaries. Pre-crisis levels were still not reached in 2017 however, while improvements over the last three years were best proportionally in Engineering Sciences.

Society is aware that the so-called Bologna process has been under way for some time now although unsurprisingly it is unaware of the endeavours made by the university community to change the structure of hundreds of courses of study and curricula and adapt and bring them in line with EHEA guidelines. The findings of the 2017 graduate employment outcomes survey clearly show that these efforts were not in vain and that they have produced results that demonstrate that the Bologna process works. University graduates interviewed in the survey told us that post-Bologna courses of study (as to the pre-Bologna programmes, such as llicenciatures, diplomatures, etc.) lead to a higher-level acquisition of skills that are necessary in the workplace.

This is highly commendable because it shows we are doing things well and, in some aspects, I would say very well. Furthermore, with the results of the 2017 survey we now have yet another input of data for the university community to analyse and interpret for the purposes of decision-making at appropriate levels. This can range from academic issues, such as finding ways to enhance the learning of certain skills or competences, managerial issues, for example, ensuring the constant quality enhancement of programmes, and more strategic matters, such as those relating to the planning and programming of higher education.

The graduate employment outcomes survey is not just a news headline. It is an instrument for managing higher education institutions and a source of guidance for prospective university students. As such, it is a highly valuable instrument that provides context at a time of change, it informs decision-making and it promotes actions to underpin the trust of society.

People do perceive the value of universities and they have trust in them as institutions that produce well-prepared professionals, who in turn give back to society the knowledge they acquire. The university community is well aware of this trust and we work constantly to be worthy of it. And if it were just for this sole reason, the universities deserve respect. Respect and support.

I invite you all to read the reports and to reflect profoundly and make your corresponding decisions as we continue on our way to excellence.

I wish you all a wonderful summer holiday.

Josep Joan Moreso Mateos


Generalitat de Catalunya

c/. dels Vergós, 36-42. 08017 Barcelona. Tel.: +34 93 268 89 50

© 2017 AQU Catalunya - Legal number B-21.910-2008