Spaniards in higher education are considerably worse off than their European Union counterparts according to a report by the educational assessment body of the European Union, the Industrial Research and Development Advisory Committee.
Quality and Relevance; a Challenge for European Education compares educational performance in the EU over the past three years and reveals that Spain spends less per capita on the country's 1.4 million university students than any other state, averaging $4,000 per year.
But ministry of education officials emphasised that spending has risen recently to $5,000 which now comprises 1.5 per cent of the country's gross national product, a figure which is comparable to most EU states.
IRDAC says that Spain, with the highest general unemployment rate in the EU, is also the worst hit in terms of graduate unemployment.
The past ten years has seen the number of graduates double while the Spanish labour market has remained filled by those who lack university qualifications.
Javier Navlet, professor of the education department of the University of Alcala de Henares, says the authorities need to be more far-sighted; "In Spain there is a divorce between the availability of courses and their capacity to be absorbed into society. At present many graduates are superfluous to the labour market."
While 75 per cent of Danish students complete their courses, less than half of Spaniards do so, according to the IRDAC report. "Not enough students graduate from our universities and those that do so take an eternity," according to Vicente Fores, public relations officer for Valencia Polytechnic.
IRDAC says Spaniards are conservative in their choice of degree subjects. Law remains the most popular undergraduate course and Spaniards are the least likely of all EU students to take engineering or computing courses.
Sixty per cent fail to complete engineering courses and many of those who get through take twice as long to graduate. Ministry officials point to the strong influence of professional engineering bodies which act to limit numbers of graduates in employment.