Santiago Íñiguez

Dean of the Instituto de Empresa (IE) Business School

“The thing that we don’t know how to manage correctly is the transfer of knowledge to the business environment, although there is an increasing number of initiatives in this area”

What is more important: an education system that is stable, or one that teaches the ideology of the majority?

Governments have believed that by changing the content they can change values, and they are mistaken. They continue to teach the same things with different labels. The Spanish education system is hyper-regulated and there should be a more homogenous relationship between the different Autonomous Regions in order to facilitate geographical mobility of talent, students, professors, and ideas. But we are too critical of the Spanish education sector when it comes to higher and university education. We shouldn’t look solely at rankings but also at the type of professionals graduating from our universities. Spanish universities have some very good business schools that compete at the international level. There are also engineering schools that produce some of the best engineers, working on projects in Saudi Arabia, the United States, Latin America, and China. The Spanish university system produces graduate profiles that are very competitive worldwide. The thing that we don’t know how to manage correctly is the transfer of knowledge to the business environment, although there is an increasing number of initiatives in this area.

Is it cheaper to study here in comparison with other countries?

No, it isn’t. In Scandinavian countries or in Holland, where the tax burden is much higher, university is free. Moreover, the government funds students to study abroad. At the moment, Spanish investment per student is lower than in the rest of Europe in percentage terms. But we need to redesign the university financing model. And when we look at countries where universities work more efficiently, such as the United States, we can see that they have a very different system of government. We have a system that combines the worst of the federal system and the worst of a centralized system.

What country might serve as an example for Spain?

Personally, I think the Dutch system is exemplary. The British system is considered the model par excellence, but it is currently undergoing a controversial transition, given that university fees have increased substantially. We can learn much from the Dutch university meritocracy and the universal education delivered in some Scandinavian countries. The coexistence of public and private models in the United States is also a good example. There is a market where big public and private universities with a world-class reputation exist side by side. Public and private education are often set up in opposition in Spain. Spanish public education is in need of reform, but both systems can complement each other.

A majority of Spanish graduates do not feel that their degree has prepared them for the professional world.

There must be a connection between graduation and incorporation into the labor market. We live in complicated times, not only in Spain where we have high unemployment rates but also in other countries such as the United States. During the last decade, the phenomenon of new technologies has meant that there are increasingly fewer jobs available for university graduates.

We must prepare graduates so that they can acquire skills related to entrepreneurship, mobility, and the possibility of developing multiple skills. We must generate more mobility within our country and Europe. Things are changing. Measures to liberalize the labor market are leading to increased employment.