EUA : European University Association

EUA Experts Conference: Universities urged to identify the full costs of their activities

More than 120 university leaders, administrators and financial experts gathered in Brussels (7/8 Feb) this week to take part in the EUA Experts Conference on the financial sustainability of Europe’s higher education institutions.

Amongst the speakers were Christina Ullenius, EUA Vice President, Sir Howard Newby, Vice Chancellor designate University of Liverpool, and Gunnar Hökmark, Member of the European Parliament.

Launching the event Christina Ullenius said that “Our Conference aims specifically to explore the links of costing and funding with autonomy, governance and accountability, and to formulate advice and concrete recommendations for universities on the further development of their financial management towards full-cost accounting”.

The conference was also opened with a video presentation by Jàn Figel’, Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth. Commissioner Figel emphasised that the financial sustainability of institutions was a key issue in the modernisation of European higher education, underlining that “few other topics are more crucial for the future of our universities”.

Michael Yuille, Chairman of the Steering Group of the EUA University Funding project, pointed out that “full cost accounting is a means to understanding the funding requirements necessary to maintain financial sustainability of Europe’s universities. In our project, we have unsurprisingly found considerable diversity of accounting practices - but the one common, unifying factor is the direction of travel. We are all on the road towards full costing, but all are at different stages on the journey”.

Amongst the other highlights of the first day was a presentation by EUA’s Thomas Estermann - who unveiled the first findings of the university funding project. He stressed that “only institutions that know the full costs of their activities and projects, can judge if they are operating on a financially sustainable basis”.

Initial findings of the EUA study had shown that there was a huge diversity of institutional funding patterns and the development of full costing models in Europe and as yet, no common understanding of the financial terminology used, let alone a coherent way to define full costs of activities.

Estermann told the audience that the move towards full costing has been driven on European level by European Funding programmes (such as FP7), on national level by pressure for greater accountability and transparency, and in institutions by a more managerial and strategic behaviour.

However, there were also a number of obstacles for implementing sound costing systems, such as a lack of external financial support, and lack of autonomy.

EUA’s current project work was showing that the necessary requirements for change need to be addressed on the European, national and institutional levels. The results of the EUA project will be published in the autumn of 2008.

Please click here to see Mr Figel’s video speech. Further presentations from the conference will soon be available on the Experts Conference webpage on the EUA website.

EUA Spring Conference: Registration is still open

Registration is still open for EUA’s 2008 Spring Conference that will be hosted by the University of Barcelona from 27-29 March 2008.

The theme of the conference is "Governance of European Universities Post 2010 (II): Enhancing Institutional Mission and Profiles".  

For more detailed information on the conference, please click here.

Register now for the conference.

Call for Papers – EUA Autumn Conference, Rotterdam: “Inclusive and responsive universities – ensuring Europe’s competitiveness”

EUA’s Autumn conference in Rotterdam (23-25 October 2008) will consider how best to promote the development of inclusive and responsive universities able to cope with the numerous challenges facing European universities.

These challenges include the changing demography of Europe; global competition and the simultaneous demands to respond better to specific local/regional needs; and new modes of knowledge production and transmission. Participants in Rotterdam will discuss how universities deal with these challenges and what being an ‘inclusive and responsive university’ means in this changing environment, while taking account of the different missions of the university.

In order to provide participants with a broad range of topical input, two paper sessions are scheduled in the conference programme. EUA is therefore issuing a call for papers (download here).

Deadline for submission of papers is 1 April 2008.

EUA President speaks at MIT–European Commission Panel Discussion

EUA President, Professor Georg Winckler, this week took part in a high-level panel discussion at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The MIT–European Commission Panel event on the “Challenges and opportunities for EU and US research intensive universities and their relation with industry” brought together leading speakers from academia and industry from both sides of the Atlantic including: Dr. Isi Saragossi, Head, European Commission Research & Innovation Unit; Susan B. Butts, Sr. Director, External Science & Technology Programs, The Dow Chemical Company; Andrew Dearing, Secretary General, European Industrial Research Management Association (EIRMA); and Subra Suresh, Dean of Engineering at MIT.

Professor Winckler covered a range of topics during the panel discussion including cooperation and competition, globalisation and differentiation between universities, and the prospect for more global research co-operation between universities with emphasis on the new opportunities offered by the 2008 launch of the EUA Council for Doctoral Education as an international partner.

Professor Winckler will also represent EUA at the American Council on Education’s 90th Annual meeting where he is due to speak next week in a session on “Quality assurance across borders: What are the issues and what is at stake?

Please click here to see Professor Winckler’s slides from the MIT event.

Updates from Brussels: Tempus programme and new Expert Forum on Mobility

The European Commission has issued a call for proposals for its Tempus IV programme, on the reform of higher education through international university cooperation.

The Trans-European mobility scheme for university studies is the EU programme that supports the modernisation of higher education in the partner countries of the Western Balkans, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. For further information, please visit the Tempus website.

Meanwhile, the Commission has also set up a new High Level Expert Forum on Mobility, and its inaugural meeting took place at the end of January. The Forum will discuss extending the reach of the Erasmus exchange programme, increasing exchanges of young people, improving support for mobility in vocational training or adult learning, and raising the degree of movement by young artists, entrepreneurs, and volunteers. EUA Board member Frans Van Vught is part of the expert group.