EUA has this week published a major new report, which compares university autonomy across 26 European countries. In addition to an in-depth analysis of the current state of institutional autonomy in Europe, the study includes four scorecards which rank and rate higher education systems in four autonomy areas: organisational, financial, staffing and academic autonomy.
The report “University Autonomy in Europe II – The Scorecard” was launched on Tuesday evening at a special event held at the Musée BELvue in Brussels. Thomas Estermann, author of the study, presented the methodology and key findings to an audience of around 80 international higher education stakeholders.
He explained that the study, which is the outcome of a two-year project, had been designed to engage all higher education stakeholders in a more in-depth debate on autonomy in order to improve national higher education systems. Outlining the results, main findings and underlying trends in university autonomy, he pointed to those areas in which, from EUA’s perspective, universities need more freedom and flexibility.
His presentation was followed by a panel discussion between Adam Tyson, Head of Unit for Higher Education and Erasmus at the European Commission’s DG Education and Culture, Professor Paul de Knop, Rector at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and Lesley Wilson, Secretary General of EUA.
Adam Tyson told the audience that EUA’s report would feed into the Commission’s policy work in the context of the Europe 2020 Strategy and provide concrete and detailed suggestions for the improvement of national regulatory frameworks. He also highlighted EUA's contribution to the peer learning activities organised as part of the intergovernmental dialogue on higher education governance. Professor de Knop pointed to the study’s value as a benchmarking tool for individual institutions. Reflecting on his own experience, he underlined that a lack of financial and staffing autonomy in a number of European higher education systems has already led to major competitive disadvantages in a global higher education landscape.
Participants also suggested that EUA’s work on institutional autonomy be taken further, by publishing regular updates and establishing potential correlations between autonomy and other concepts, such as performance, quality and successful income diversification, or through comparisons with other sectors.
The two-year Autonomy Scorecard project was supported by the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme and carried out in conjunction with EUA’s project partners, the German Rectors’ Conference, Universities Denmark, the Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland and the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. The national rectors’ conferences, EUA’s collective members, collaborated throughout the project.
The report, “University Autonomy in Europe II - The Scorecard”, can be downloaded here.
EUA is currently preparing an online tool that is scheduled to launch early in 2012. It will allow for a more interactive use of the rich data collected.