20 May 2010 | Briefing

Impact of the economic crisis on European universities - 05/2010

To ensure the financial sustainability of Europe’s 5,000 plus universities, EUA is calling on governments (as underlined in its Prague Declaration) to commit to increasing investment in higher education and research and renew efforts to reach the Barcelona target of 3% (of GDP) investment in research and the 2% (of GDP) target for investment in higher education proposed by the European Commission.

EUA’s monitoring work has shown that there have already been major cuts to public spending in Latvia and heavy cuts of 5-10% in Italy (over 3 years), Ireland, UK, Estonia, Lithuania and Romania. Cuts of less than 5% have also been registered in the Czech Republic, Poland, Croatia and Serbia. Elsewhere, a number of governments (in Hungary, for example) have discarded previously made commitments to increase higher education funding. Only a small number of European governments (including France and Germany) have upheld their commitments or indeed provided new investments to fund higher education.

EUA’s monitoring has also collected evidence on the impact of the crisis on private funding to universities. This is becoming an increasingly important part of universities’ financial structures, helping to diversify their income streams and contributing to their overall financial sustainability. There are indications that the economic crisis has also had a negative impact on the development of university autonomy, through the introduction of more direct steering mechanisms, regulations and increasingly unbalanced accountability procedures which EUA believes will be counterproductive in making universities an essential player in overcoming the crisis.

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