Hopes dashed as race blocks entry to vital exam

Dozens of budding medical professionals in the Spanish city of Valencia were unable to sit a crucial government exam due to a half marathon blocking access to the university campus.

Hopes dashed as race blocks entry to vital exam
File Photo: Universidad de Navarra/Flickr

Seventeen thousand students in Spain's Comunidad Valenciana region had been preparing for an exam that would grant only 500 of them a job as a nursing assistant in the region’s hospitals.

One can only begin to imagine the despair some of the candidates must have felt when they were physically unable to reach the exam room despite having the set off on time on Sunday morning.

The reason for the frustrating delay was none other than a half marathon taking place in the coastal city at the same time as the public service entry exams were being carried out at Valencia University.

The sporting event held up traffic around Valencia and blocked access to some of the roads leading to the campus.

"Police officers have helped us out but there was total gridlock on the roads and we’ve simply been unable to arrive on time," one of the candidates told Spanish National Television.

"It's not fair, we’ve been waiting for this opportunity for so long."

Spain’s general trade union CC OO has criticized Valencia's Town Hall and Health Ministry for not foreseeing the clash between both events.

The syndicate had warned the region’s health ministry a week before in a letter in which they insisted on “alternative routes to avoid any possible problems".

They've been too strict with the time limit,” Yolanda Gil, spokesperson for Spain's Nursing Trade Union told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser.

"There were people crying because they had been preparing for two years and they’ve not even been able to sit the exam."

A total of 17,615 candidates sat the public service entrance exam in the region’s thee main cities: Castellón, Alicante and Valencia.

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Five things to know about the ‘best university in Spain’

A new prestigious global university rankings has included several Spanish institutes albeit well down the list. Here's what you need to know about the university that finsihed the highest in the rankings.

Five things to know about the 'best university in Spain'
Photo: Jesús Corrius/Flickr
The QS World University Rankings, one of the big three most-read top schools lists, has just been released, and it includes 27 Spanish universities amongst the world’s top thousand.
While no Spanish school ranked in the top 100, university administrators argue that they’re doing more with less – Spanish schools have about €6,000 in funding per student/per year, a fraction of the €100,000 or so spent on each student per year at the American universities at the top of the list. 
The top Spanish school was declared to be the Universitat de Barcelona, ranked 165th globally. Here are 5 things worth knowing about the university declared by QS to be the best in Spain:
A university with tradition
The Universitat de Barcelona was listed as one of the 25 best universities in the world with more than 400 years of history by QS. The school was founded back in 1450 by King Alfonso V (“the Magnanimous”) of Aragon, making it 569 years old.
While it’s not as old as Spain’s historic University of Salamanca, founded in 1134, it is ranked almost 500 spots higher in the QS World University Rankings.
Photo: Jordi Domènech/Wikimedia Commons
One of the biggest universities in Spain
With more than 46,000 full-time students and around 63,000 students all categories included, the Universitat de Barcelona has one of the largest student bodies in Spain. 
It is the fourth largest university in Spain in terms of full-time students, after the University of Seville, the Complutense in Madrid, and the University of Granada.
Strong points: academic reputation and graduate employability
One of the factors that contributed to the Universitat de Barcelona’s “best in Spain” was its good academic reputation, rated at 71 out of 100 by QS. Academic reputation is the most heavily-weighted component in the QS World University rankings, and is judged by it surveying the opinions of over 94,000 individuals in the field of higher education with regards to an institution’s teaching and research quality.
Another factor that helped the Universitat de Barcelona distinguish itself was the high employability of its graduates. There, they cracked the top 100, ranking 82nd globally, making them the most employable university graduates in Spain, a quality that demonstrates itself with 90% graduate employment rate.
Weakness: a lack of international faculty
If there’s one category the Universitat of Barcelona could improve in, it’s international faculty. QS values an international faculty as the mark of a strong international brand and a global outlook, and incorporates into its ranking system.
The Universitat de Barcelona was graded an abysmal 5.8 out of 100 on this metric, probably because only 134 of its 3,923 faculty members are from outside of Spain. That’s a 3.4% international faculty for a student body made up of 15% international students from at least 122 different countries. 
Looks like that scene in L’Auberge Espagnole where the professor refuses to teach in any language but Catalan might have contained a grain of truth in it…
An affordable education
Unlike the schools at the top of the international list, the Universitat de Barcelona provides a reasonably-priced education, charging domestic students around €1,750 to €3,500 per school year. International students are charged a little bit more, as undergraduates pay €7,000 – €9,000 per year and graduate students are charged €3,500 – €5,500 per year.
Compared to the €42,500 – €44,500 per year that top ranked Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students can expect to pay, that doesn’t sound to bad.