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### The use of Spanish mathematicians

**Report "Training and employment of the graduates of higher education in Spain" (coordinated by Mora and García Montalvo, 2001)**

The authors of this report, Faculty of Economics, have drawn up a list of 42 degrees offered by the universities, sorted according to rising unemployment rates among graduates four years earlier. According to this report, airy in the country's 5-2-2001, be unemployed on 12'1 % of mathematicians graduates four years ago, placing mathematics ranked 32 in the rankings.

The following article, published in EL PAÍS on 30-4-2001, questioned the methodology used by the authors of the report.

**UNIVERSITY STATISTICS**

**Miguel Ángel Government**

Hard to imagine a director-general of agriculture stating in the Congress of deputies that "express in numerical terms, past and present events, and then combine these short numbers to deduce results with the characteristic of precision and certainty of the mathematical sciences, is the peculiar procedure of statistics, which is already a system of research"whose importance is growing from day to day, to multiply the data and the means of observing perfect (...). "Few, very few are human knowledge for whose progressive development do not have to rely on statistics, asking for their services and taking by Assistant." That accurately described Benigno Quiroga then almost unknown science. 110 years later, the Socialist candidate for the Presidency of the Government lost the Stirrups - and with them, the debate on the State of the nation - to the mockery of a part of the House for its use necessary legal, economic and statistical terms and concepts. What times these, in which the professional rigour raises the hilarity! As well, even at counter-current, I believe that it is high time to criticize the lack of rigor in statistical studies that may influence the choice of University and degree by the University futures. An item that is not trivial, as it affects many thousands of Spanish families each year and, in addition to all the universities.

In November 1999 were made public the conclusions of the report excellence: quality of Spanish universities. From 71 variables available in the yearbooks of the INE - none related to the satisfaction of the users of the service and for the most part irrelevant (such as the percentages of women among students and teachers) or relative to the size (such as the number of students, teachers and of qualifications) - which would have built the first level of quality of Spanish universities. None of the reviews of the report that fell into my hands described the methodology used, and which would be based, most likely, in the interpretation of the first main component as the index of quality when it would be, in reality, an index of size. In fact, the first 5 universities in the list are located in Madrid or Barcelona, and 8 of the last 10 are of recent creation. Of course, the authors of the report were not statistical professionals.

Nor are the focal points of the report on unemployment of university graduates who realized the supplement of education in the country (5-2-2001), and whose greatest achievement appears to be a list of 42 degrees sorted according to the employment level estimated for graduates four years ago. The reader is not informed of the sampling techniques used nor sample sizes (although Yes from their sum). Little serves to estimate the rate of unemployment in a qualification if it is accompanied with its range of trust (misnamed "fork") and the level of risk (probability of error) assumed. For example, in the collective that know best of mathematicians, and assuming that the corresponding sample is representative and the average size (171 graduates), one could argue, with a probability of error of 5% (level of standard risk in social sciences), the real unemployment rate is among the 7'2 % and 17%, interval whose center is the 12'1 % estimated in the report to which mathematics at 32 on the list. Because such small samples, the intervals - with wavelengths in the order of 10 percentage points - overlap by dozens. do make sense then management in which the difference between consecutive qualifications is a few tenths? Greater still are my doubts as to the representativeness of the sample. Let's see some evidence that underpin them.

The report of the economic and Social Council of 1997 revealed that graduates in mathematics and business are"which takes less to find employment". On the other hand, according to the recent Guide to companies that offer employment 2000, published by the Fundación Universidad-empresa, mathematics (with 13 per cent) is the ninth degree more demanded by the 500 companies surveyed during the first quarter of 2000, only preceded by business (31%), higher Industrial Engineering (26 per cent), economic (25%), upper engineering in telecommunications (23%), Marketing (16%), technical engineering in computer science (15%)Computer science (15%) and higher engineering in computer science (13%). And the post would be improved if you take as sort concerning having demand less qualified in mathematics than in most previous disciplines. In fact, in the column next to the above-mentioned article we read that "the specialists of the centres for vocational guidance for students of the universities are unanimous to point out what is the current target of employment: new technologies." "The rise of information technology and telecommunications has spread in recent years to other adjacent as physics, mathematics or electronics engineering careers". Thus a single company in the sector, Newknow, carried contracted more than thousand mathematicians, according to its founder and CEO, the mathematician John Moran. With such demand, they are unemployed between 7% and 17% of mathematicians by pure whim? It does not explain otherwise that, according to the report, the rate of unemployment in mathematics double long of statistics because, as a member of an external Committee for the evaluation of the degree at a University, I have had occasion to hear repeatedly that no one knew only former student who was hired as a statistician.

That nobody call deception: the use of commercial statistical software does not guarantee a good practice. Everyone would come out winning if coordinators applied statistical work - and not just in academia - incorporated graduates in statistics to your equipment: its conclusions would be more reliable and would have less statistical unemployed.

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Department of Statistics and Operations Research

Last update 11-May-2012 13:48:13

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