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EUA releases new data on public funding for universities

12 December 2017

The findings of the 2017 Public Funding Observatory are now available on the EUA website. The study, fuelled by data from EUA members, is presented in a report and online tool. It captures the very latest funding trends in Europe and offers the most up-to-date information on 34 different higher education systems.

The analysis reveals that since the 2008 financial crisis, the divide between higher education systems that increase public funding, and those that reduce investment, is getting wider. It also shows that while 2012 was the most difficult year in terms of cuts, any recovery that can now be detected is slow and fragile.

Evolution of public funding to universities 2008-2016 map 8.12.2017“Once university funding is cut, it takes a long time to catch up. Decreases may hit all activity areas, including teaching, research, infrastructure and staff,” explains Thomas Estermann, EUA’s Director of Governance, Funding and Public Policy Development. “If Europe sees more economic growth, we need to seize the opportunity to invest in higher education and set the stage for long-term sustainable funding trends.”

Student numbers and dynamic economic contexts affect university funding. A handful of countries have increases that match student numbers and GDP growth, while others demonstrate the need to investment more in order to close the gap.

Only 14 systems had higher funding in 2016 than in 2008 and eight of those have a faster growth in student populations compared to the increase in funding. Nineteen systems still had lower levels of direct public funding in 2016 than in 2008.

National funding cuts also hamper universities’ capacity to compete successfully for EU grants. Insufficient EU funding has caused the overall success rate in the current EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation to drop to about 10%. According to the report and EUA’s campaign “EU funding for universities”, more funding is needed both at the EU level to improve the efficiency of the Framework Programme and at the national level to enable universities to contend and remain attractive.

For the first time, Cyprus is included in the analysis. This latest edition also differentiates between various higher education systems within the UK, providing separate data for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The 2017 EUA Public Funding Observatory will be presented on 13 December 2017 during a free webinar. Watch the recording here:

European University Association (EUA)

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

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Tel: +41 22 552 02 96