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Education Act. 11 Jan 2018

Spanish public universities lead the BBVA Foundation and IVIE ranking

The top Spanish universities are mostly located in Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia. This is one of the main conclusions drawn from the fourth edition of U-Ranking, the Spanish university system’s ranking compiled by the BBVA Foundation and the Valencia Institute of Economic Research (IVIE – Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas).

This year, three Catalan public universities and the Technical University of Valencia lead the U-Ranking 2016. Pompeu Fabra University is first in the overall ranking. The Autonomous University of Barcelona leads the ranking for research, the Technical University of Catalonia is top in technology transfer and Pompeu Fabra University shares top spot in the ranking for teaching with the University of Navarra.

Major differences

The 2016 edition of U-Ranking confirms significant differences in specialization and performance among the universities, though such differences have lessened compared to 2013. In this edition, public universities occupy the top spots (of the top 16, 14 are public) in research (the top 13 are public) and in innovation and technological development (the top 11 are public). In contrast, private universities stand out in teaching, though they achieve lower results in research, jointly scoring 36% below the average, a percentage only surpassed by the University of Navarra.

The gap revealed by this ranking becomes even more apparent when we take into account that the scores achieved by the top universities are twice that of those obtaining the lowest scores. This difference is far more evident in the ranking for technology transfer, where the results of some technical universities are six times higher than those at the bottom of the ranking. The difference is down to the research potential of the top institutions and how they leverage opportunities to undertake technology transfer activities. These are the two factors that most clearly highlight the gap among universities, as they achieve more equal learning results.

To compile these rankings, U-Ranking 2016 analyzed 61 universities, which represents 95% of the university system in terms of student numbers or research output. It includes 48 public universities (all except the UIMP and the International University of Andalusia, since their characteristics mean they are not comparable) and 13 private universities (two more than in 2015) offering information that is suitable for the calculation of indicators.

Education and public expenditure

This is not the only study arising from collaboration between the BBVA Foundation and the IVIE. The joint report; “Spanish Education Accounts 2000-2013. Resources, expenditure and results” reveals that cuts in public expenditure on education following the economic crisis has forced families to increase their spending in this sector by 28% since 2009.

Total public expenditure on education in Spain rose by 36% between 2000 and 2009. The economic crisis led to a sustained decline, reaching 15% through to 2014, when there was a slight upturn. The experts who carried out this study concluded that the education system will need a reserve fund in order to offer the stability and guarantees for the future required by Spanish society.

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