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Efficiency in university management: USTREAM project takes off

12 May 2016

The EUA-led USTREAM project is up and running after its launch in January of this year.

The initiative, which will run for three years, examines the measures that are in place in universities across Europe to enhance efficiency at operational and academic levels. It also analyses policies at the system level that support universities in their efforts to operate more efficiently, with a view to identify good practice examples and develop recommendations to policy makers. 

Through a consultation with EUA’s collective members, the national rectors’ conferences, the first phase of the project explored which systems include efficiency measures in university operations and policies. This was complemented by a literature review and background research on the topic from the Central European University (CEU) in Hungary, one of the partners in the project along with Universities UK (UUK) and the Irish Universities Association (IUA).

These first activities revealed that there are differences among systems with regard to the perception and the use of the term “efficiency”. While it is considered an important topic for universities and policy makers in many systems, others do not have it on the agenda or do not use the term. Among the main drivers for the discourse are reductions in funding, the introduction of tuition fees, growing enrolment and the need for greater accountability due to increased institutional autonomy. All of these drivers also augment the pressure on universities to show their added value for society and the economy. Measures to enhance operational efficiency and ultimately increase value for money are often part of these efforts although they might not always be labelled as such. 

In the next phase, the USTREAM project will investigate institutional practices and efficiency strategies and collect case studies from its member universities through a questionnaire to be launched in the autumn. Complemented with site visits, the data will feed into the development of an online tool that will help institutions to assess their own practices and find good practice examples from across Europe. The first case studies from universities in the UK and Ireland will be presented in a dedicated session at the 3rd EUA Funding Forum on 6 and 7 October 2016 in Porto, Portugal for which registration will soon be open. 

For further information on the USTREAM project, please consult the project webpageor contact the project team at


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