International rankings have become increasingly important as they are instruments that enable the analysis and comparison of university models, in turn they are presented as useful tools to measure the strengths and weaknesses of university systems and compare them with others, also offering the possibility of comparing universities at an institutional level and by fields of knowledge. In this sense, Fundación CYD has analyzed the role of Spanish universities in the international university system through updated U-Multirank data.
In force since 2014, the U-Multirank (promoted by the European Commission, the Bertelsmann Foundation and Banco Santander) is a multidimensional ranking that measures the performance of universities around the world, combining rankings by fields of knowledge with a ranking of institutions higher education. In 2021 it has carried out its eighth edition with data from 1,950 universities in 97 countries, 36.5% of which are European. Of these, there are 76 Spanish women, which is why they represent practically the entire Spanish university system.
The U-Multirank presents the results by performance groups, from “very good” to “weak” , differentiating five groups that depend on the distance between the indicator score of an individual institution and the median of all institutions with data. In turn, it classifies the indicators in five dimensions: teaching and learning, research, knowledge transfer, international orientation and contribution to regional development.
- Institutional performance (worldwide and Spanish) in teaching and learning The CYD Foundation has compared the performance of world, European and Spanish universities in each of the dimensions. When it comes to teaching and learning, you have selected two indicators: bachelor’s graduation rate and master’s graduation rate.
In the undergraduate graduation rate, the presence of Spanish universities is concentrated in the groups with the lowest performance (group III and IV), with only 6.76% in the two groups with the highest performance. World universities with a 49.9% presence in groups I and II are the ones that obtain the best results, while 36.36% of European universities have a presence in these two groups.
The Master’s degree graduation rate is the proportion of enrolled Master’s students who successfully complete their study program . Unlike the bachelor’s degree, in master’s degrees, more Spanish universities are located in the highest performing groups (groups I and II) with 66.67% and above European (51.57%) and world universities (50 , 06%).
In this dimension, IE University is the only one with an indicator in group I (bachelor’s degree) and with the other in group III (master’s degree). The Ramon Llull University and the San Jorge University have the two indicators in group II.
- Spanish universities in the research dimension
To analyze this dimension, Fundación CYD has selected six indicators : standardized impact of publications, external research funds, highly cited publications, interdisciplinary publications, open access publications and post-doctorates.
The normalized impact of publications is the average number of citations of a university’s publications, normalized by area of knowledge and year of publication. Only 24.66% of Spanish universities are between groups I and II, compared to 51.79% of world universities and 51.22% of European ones.
The external research funds indicator measures the amount of external resources paid for R & D & i activities in relation to the university’s teaching and research staff (PDI). Only 32.88% of Spanish universities fall into these groups, while 74.99% of world universities do so and 45.99% of European universities.
The highly cited publications indicator refers to the proportion of a university’s publications that, compared to other publications in the same field and in the same year, belongs to the top 10% of the most cited ones. Only 23.29% of Spanish universities reach performance groups I and II and the majority are concentrated in group III (58.9%). On the other hand, world and European universities obtain better results: 52.17% and 50.52%, respectively, are concentrated in the best performing groups.
In the interdisciplinary publications indicator, which refers to the degree to which publications incorporate references to publications from other scientific fields, Spanish universities have 52.05% representation in groups I and II, improving the results of world universities (48 , 98%) and approaching the European ones (52.96%).
Of the entire dimension, Spanish universities stand out more in open access publications (publications in fully open access journals), with 91.78% presence in groups I and II, compared to 49.46% of world universities and 64.11% of the European ones.
Regarding post-doctorates regarding PDI, Spanish universities have a presence in groups I and II of 87.14%, ranking above world universities (86.14% of universities in the first two groups) and close to of Europeans (90.19%).
For the selection of indicators of this dimension, the university that has had the most presence in the groups with the highest performance has been Pompeu Fabra, with five indicators in group I and one indicator in group II.
- Relationship between universities and knowledge transfer
For the knowledge transfer dimension, six indicators are analyzed: publications with companies, private funds, patents with private companies, spin-offs, publications cited in patents and income from continuous training.
The indicator publications with companies measures the proportion of scientific publications produced in collaboration with companies. 30.14% of Spanish universities are between performance groups I and II , in contrast to world universities (50.61%) and European ones (56.97%).
Private funds are liquidated research funds from private sources in relation to the PDI. In this indicator, 36.99% of Spanish universities are positioned in the best performing groups, compared to 46.71% of world universities and 41.91% of European ones.
The patent with private companies measures the percentage of university patents granted in which at least one of the applicants was a private company. It is the indicator of this dimension in which Spanish universities best manage to position themselves: 72.22% are between groups I and II, with much better results than that of world universities (44.63%) and that of European universities. (53.71%).
The percentage of spin-offs created per 100 PDIs is where, in general, there are fewer universities in the groups with the highest performance, both worldwide, European and Spanish, although the ones that stand out the most are the first: 37.92% of universities between groups I and II, followed by European (33.85%) and Spanish with the lowest result of 10.14%.
The results are more or less homogeneous in the publications cited in patents , an indicator that refers to the percentage of publications cited in the reference list of at least one international patent: 48.05% of world universities in groups 1 and 2, 52, 96% European and 41.10% Spanish.
The last indicator analyzed is income from continuous training; that is, income paid directly by the university and by the centers in which it is delegated to carry out continuous training activities, divided by the total income of the university and those centers. Here, Spanish universities obtain better results than European and world universities: 56.94% are between performance groups I and II, compared to 45.73% of world universities and 43.27% of European ones.
In the indicators chosen for the knowledge transfer dimension, the universities that have had the most presence in group I and II are Carlos III , with five of the six indicators in group I and one in group III, which is followed by (in equality) Navarra and Mondragón, with four indicators in group I and one indicator in group III.
- The international orientation of universities
For the international orientation dimension, five indicators are analyzed: bachelor’s degrees taught in a foreign language, master’s degrees taught in a foreign language, student mobility, foreign teachers, and international publications.
The indicator of degrees taught in a foreign language shows the percentage of degree programs that are taught with at least 80% of the credits in a foreign language. The results are not good for any of the three groups of universities analyzed, being the Spanish universities the ones that have the most room for improvement since only 10.14% are among the groups with the highest performance. For its part, the presence of world universities in these two groups is 33.13% , while European ones add up to 31.08%.
In its homonym for master’s degree, master’s degrees taught in a foreign language, Spanish universities fell: 9.86% were positioned in groups I and II. World and European universities improve with respect to degree: 37.61% and 40.92%, respectively, are in these two groups.
Student mobility refers to the percentage of students enrolled in an exchange program with a foreign university , including participants in the ERASMUS program. It is the indicator with the best results for Spanish universities in this dimension, with 88.89% in groups I or II. World universities occupy 54.78%, while European universities 74.20%.
Regarding foreign teachers (proportion of IDPs with a nationality other than Spanish), there are very few universities in Spain in the highest performing groups, only 18.06%, in contrast to world universities (46.41%) and the European (44.74%).
Regarding international publications, percentage of university publications made in collaboration with at least one author from a foreign institution, the presence of Spanish universities in groups I or II exceeds that of world universities, (60.27% versus to 53.86%), and is lower than that of the European, which are the most prominent group with 75.09% of institutions in the groups with the highest performance.
For this dimension, the universities that have stood out the most in the selected indicators have been Carlos III, which has three indicators in group I and one indicator in II (no data is available for the other indicator); and Ramon Llull, with three indicators in group I and two in group II.
- Universities and the contribution to regional development
Finally, Fundación CYD has selected four indicators to analyze the contribution to regional development: internships in companies in the region, regional research funds, regional publications, and publications with companies in the region.
The indicator for internships in companies in the region measures the percentage of undergraduate and master students who have carried out internships in the region where the university is located in relation to the total number of students who have carried out internships. Specifically, Spanish universities account for 71.01% in groups I or II, while world universities are 49.27% and European ones 45.07%.
Regional research funds are the percentage of external research income from the region where the university is located. In this indicator, Spanish universities also obtain better results with 83.33% among groups I or II, doubling in the presence of world universities (38.5%) and European ones (40.48%).
In regional publications, percentage of university publications in which at least one of the co-authors has a affiliation in an institution located within a radius of 50 km from the university, the results of the three groups are very similar: they are between the best performing groups were 49.65% of world universities, 54.88% of European ones and 54.79% of Spanish ones.
The last indicator analyzed is publications with companies in the region and measures the relative number of scientific publications in which one of the authors is affiliated with a company in the region. 40% of Spanish universities are concentrated in the highest performing groups, surpassed both by the world ones (46.53%) and by the European ones (43.9%).
For this dimension, the universities that stand out the most are the University of La Laguna and the International University of Catalonia, with three of the four selected indicators positioned in group I with the highest performance.