20 Sep, 2014 @ 08:34
1 min read

Spain’s university graduates worst in literacy and numeracy tests

SPAIN’S university graduates are not a ‘class act’. They scored the lowest marks in a global study of basic literacy and numeracy skills – below the best-performing high school students.

The study – carried out by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) – placed Spain and Italy joint bottom in the rankings, with just 12% of graduates reaching a ‘high level’ of literacy and numeracy.

This is compared to an average of 24% across the 22 countries analysed in the annual education report for the world’s richer nations.

Spanish graduates are also, on average, less skilled than high school leavers in the highest-performing nations, Japan and the Netherlands.

In the Netherlands, 14% of high school leavers reached the ‘high level’, while 13% reached the same level in Japan.

According to the OECD, the results ‘fit’ with high unemployment levels in the southern European countries.

Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s Director of Education and Skills, said: “This is important. When you look at employment data, you might ask why so many graduates in Spain and Italy are unemployed. But when you look at the skills, it fits. They are actually not particularly highly skilled.”

However Professor Massimo Egidi, an economist from the LUISS Guido Carli university in Rome, dismissed the link between the results and high youth unemployment.

“The problem is something else entirely. The problem is a mismatch between demand and supply. It is not the quality of the supply, but the mismatch,” he said.

The results come as little surprise, as both Spain and Italy also came bottom in last year’s OECD rankings.


Rob Horgan

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  1. This doesn’t surprise me as the university system here is very flawed. Students have up to 5 attempts in some cases to pass end of year exams with some still trying to pass the previous year when completing their current year. I have had several Spanish students working for me and one told me once how he walked out of an end of year exam retake as he hadnt studied so would wait for next set of retakes.

    My wife is from South America and her university professor recently visited us in a Spain while she was touring Europe. She had arranged while in Andalucia to meet with the heads of both Sevilla and Malaga universities to have a brain storm/ exchange of ideas session. Anyway, she said on both occasions she was kept waiting for over an hour and found both conversations patronizing and In her opinion found both universities 20 years behind the one she worked yet with an ego that they were the best I the world.

  2. This reflected in the various university rankings, Times, QS, ARWU, etc. Spanish universities are conspicuous by their absence in the top 50 and even to 100…

  3. Last time I looked I saw Spain only had one university in world top 200 and that was in Barcelona.

  4. The worst thing is that these “graduates” go into positions of power and responsibility e.g. local/central government, and then proceed to make even larger cock-ups. And thus the cycle of incompetence continues.

  5. Fred makes a good point because as I often wonder when I am the victim of a mistake by the town hall, hacienda, junta , social security office etc how these people got through University to allow them to get these jobs. Of course they all no doubt took 4 or 5 attempts ever year to pass the previous year

  6. Mark, you are quite correct. I once had to sack a Spanish gestor because he made frequent errors on basic bookkeeping tasks. Their IT skills are atrocious too; one very well known company on the Costa had all their accounts published online because they uploaded it to a public web server and Google indexed it lol, and that was done by a top legal and accountancy firm who advertise everywhere still today.

  7. It is a sad reality in this part of the world as good professional workers are very hard to come by. I have gone through countless lawyers, and gestors after countless mistake which can only put down to them not being very good at their job. Of course these people all have qualifications pinned to the walls of their offices but in my experiences they are only for show.

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