Spain’s university sector has been growing fast in resources and results. Like the national economy, however, it faces problems of productivity and international competitiveness which raise serious concerns about its social and economic contribution.
The aim of this study is to assess the outcomes of university teaching and research activities and reflect on the changes they have undergone and the challenges ahead. To this end, it places the Spanish universities in an international context, analyzing both their internal processes and the configuration of the sector, which stands out for its heterogeneity. It also examines the nature of the productive fabric that employs graduates and stresses the importance of lifelong training for the optimal exploitation of human capital.
The underlying research is based on human capital methodology and considers university education as one stage in an individual’s lifelong training, by reference to both the direct results of university activity and graduates’ subsequent years of productive activity. Starting from a thorough review of the available statistical data, the authors question some of the accepted theories about Spanish universities, concluding that there is neither a surfeit of centers nor a problem of insufficient size. They also recommend that not all centers should give equal weight to research and teaching functions. Rather, Spain needs to recognize the heterogeneity of its universities and promote their greater specialization as a means to tackle existing inefficiencies. Finally, while acknowledging that degrees bring undoubted personal and social benefits, they explain why returns on education are constrained by the characteristics of the country’s productive sector.
The book is aimed at the educational community and the university community in particular, policymakers in the education and employment spheres, researchers in education economics and all those interested in knowing more about the role of the universities in our society.