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USTREAM sought to examine the measures that are in place in universities across Europe to enhance efficiency at operational level, and also analyse policies at system level that support universities in their efforts to operate more efficiently, with a view to identify good practice examples and develop recommendations for further development. The project addressed the question of operational efficiency in universities in a European comparative way. It offered a novel approach to the topic by tailoring it to the specificities of the higher education sector and breaking it down into three thematic dimensions:

  • efficiency in professional, operational and support services
  • efficiency in academic matters, and
  • efficiency through strategic governance.


For queries on the USTREAM project, please contact:

USTREAM was co-funded by the European Commission under the Erasmus+ programme (2014). The USTREAM project ran from January 2016 until June 2019.

erasmus plus flagThis project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. 








 The overarching goals of the project were:

  • to inform policy-making by developing recommendations to public authorities and funders, helping to enhance efficiency and effectiveness at institutional level in universities (focusing on regulatory frameworks and setting up supporting policies);
  • to foster the dialogue between universities and public authorities on efficiency and effectiveness in university management and academic practice; 
  • to improve efficiency in university management through the transfer and dissemination of good practice examples and recommendations to university leaders and managers.

This was achieved by:

  • exploring the measures put in place by universities across Europe to increase their efficiency, in professional, operational and support services, as well as academic matters and through strategic governance;
  • assessing the impact these measures have with regard to the effectiveness and quality of university activities such as education and research;
  • benchmarking regulatory frameworks of higher education systems in Europe with regard to the extent to which they enable universities to develop their own efficiency strategies and measures;
  • identifying good practice examples of efficiency strategies and policies at institutional as well as system level that may be transferable to other institutions/systems and promoting them.

Online tool – “The University Efficiency Hub”

The USTREAM partners have developed an “efficiency self-evaluation tool”, which  supports higher education institutions in the assessment of their efficiency programmes and activities. The tool was launched in autumn 2018.

Interested university managers and public administrators are invited to test the tool’s prototype and share their feedback with the USTREAM partners. 



First peer learning seminar: Policy frameworks for efficiency and effectiveness (1-2 June 2017, London)

Organised by Universities UK and EUA, the first peer learning seminar explored the existing policy frameworks for efficiency and effectiveness in higher education and the ways in which institutions have developed strategies to address these policy priorities in the UK and other countries in Europe.

Second peer learning seminar: National and institutional approaches to delivering efficiency (4-5 December 2017, Dublin)

The second peer learning seminar addressed national and institutional approaches to delivering efficiency. The focus was to provide case studies on key efficiency measures implemented in Ireland and in other countries in Europe, and discuss their impact and effectiveness.

Third peer learning seminar: Efficiency, leadership and governance (18-19 April 2018, Brussels)

The final USTREAM peer learning seminar, co-organised by EUA and HUMANE – Heads of University Management and Administration Network in Europe, focused on how to close the gap between strategy formation and execution in order to achieve sustainable efficiency gains. The participants discussed critical success factors and the lived experiences in overcoming barriers to support efficiency in universities in a more sustainable way.

National policy dialogues

Three national policy dialogue events were organised in the first half of 2018. The aim of the events was to bring together relevant higher education stakeholders engaged in design and implementation of efficiency, effectiveness and value for money, ranging from university leaders to funders and policy makers.

Site visits

Three site visits to Austria, Belgium-Flanders and Poland took place in 2017. The aim of the site visits was to collect in-depth qualitative data about three selected higher education systems through a series of meetings with national/regional university leaders and policy makers. The results of the site visits are featured in the final publication.

Institutional survey

USTREAM survey on efficient university management

The USTREAM survey was conducted in 2016. The questionnaire was completed by nearly 70 institutions from 21 countries across Europe. The USTREAM partners are thankful to the respondents for their time and invaluable feedback to the questionnaire. EUA is grateful to its collective members, national rectors’ conferences, for the dissemination of the USTREAM survey. 

The survey addressed efficiency at higher education institutions from three different angles: institutional frameworks, implementation practices and impact of efficiency measures. Following a structured set of questions, the survey offered the respondents a possibility to assess the current state of institutional management, governance and academic efficiency frameworks. The results of the survey are featured in the final USTREAM publication


Call for expression of interest: USTREAM national policy dialogue events (closed)

The USTREAM project partners invited National Rectors’ Conferences, ministries, public agencies, and universities to express interest in organising one of three national policy dialogue events in 2018. The objective of the national policy dialogue events is to foster the exchange of views and discussions on efficiency and effectiveness of universities between key national stakeholders.

Further enquiries about the call for expression of interest in the USTREAM national policy dialogue events can be sent to 

Call for Participation: USTREAM peer learning seminars on efficiency in higher education  (closed)

The USTREAM partners are inviting experts, university managers and public administrators experienced in efficiency at institutional or system level to apply for participation in a series of peer learning seminars dedicated to various aspects of efficiency and effectiveness in the higher education context.

The USTREAM peer learning seminars will take place throughout 2017 and in early 2018 and will be hosted by three partner university associations of the USTREAM project. Further details on the time, place and focus of each event are presented below:

  • 1-2 June 2017: Peer Learning Seminar 1 – Policy frameworks for efficiency and effectiveness, organised by Universities UK, London, UK
    Deadline for application: 7 April 2017 (Extended to 24 April)
  • 4-5 December 2017: Peer Learning Seminar 2 – National and institutional approaches to delivering efficiency, organised by the Irish Universities Association, Dublin, Ireland
    Deadline for application: 18 September 2017
  • 18-19 April 2018: Peer Learning Seminar 3 – Efficiency, governance and leadership, organised by the European University Association in collaboration with HUMANE (Heads of University Management and Administration Network), Brussels, Belgium 
    Deadline for application: to be communicated

Participation in the USTREAM peer learning seminars is free of charge. Travel and accommodation costs incurred by the participants of the events will be covered by the USTREAM project in line with project rules.

Further enquiries about the peer learning seminars or the call procedures can be sent to

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