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Impact of the economic crisis on European higher education: EUA publishes latest update ahead of major new report

07 January 2011

EUA has been monitoring the evolution of the economic crisis and its effect on higher education systems in Europe since its onset in 2008 and has published a series of short reports. This week, we publish our latest update report ahead of a major new study on the financial sustainability of European higher education that is currently being finalised and will be published on 22 February 2011.

The latest monitoring report highlights that the economic crisis continues to affect higher education in several ways. Funding has not only been decreased in a number of European countries, but often public authorities are also reviewing the way the funding is actually delivered to universities.

Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, Italy and Latvia, face major cuts to higher education budgets; and many others need to adapt to noticeable falls in income. Only in a few countries like France have governments upheld their commitment to increase public funding for universities. 

Institutions in most countries report future ‘uncertainty’ and expect further - and possibly deeper - cuts to come in the forthcoming months and years. As many governments struggle with austerity measures to balance their deficits, the full extent of effects on higher education systems around Europe still remains to be seen.

In some countries, cuts are likely to have a significant restructuring effect on higher education systems. In England, a major shift is underway from direct funding to institutions towards indirect funding through student support, coupled with higher tuition fees and reduced teaching grants.In Italy, beyond an expected €1 billion budget cut, funds will be made increasingly conditional on student employability and research performance.

The report also looks at the impact of the economic crisis at institutional level and on private funding sources – which also provide an important source of revenue for universities.

Download the latest update here.

This monitoring of the economic crisis will form part of a forthcoming report on “Financially sustainable universities: European universities diversifying incomes streams” that will be launched on 22 February 2011 at a reception taking place at the Bavarian representation to the EU in Brussels.  The report is the outcome of a two-year EC-supported project: European Universities Diversifying Income Streams (EUDIS) which has collected a wealth of information on how universities can and are diversifying their income sources.

European University Association (EUA)

Brussels office:
Avenue de l’Yser, 24
1040 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0) 2 230 55 44

Geneva office:
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Case postale 3174
1211 Geneva 3
Tel: +41 22 552 02 96