EUA has contributed significantly to the European debate on university governance, autonomy and funding and has addressed these issues in several policy documents.
• “Shaping, reinforcing, and implementing autonomy: universities need strengthened autonomy to better serve society and specifically to ensure favourable regulatory frameworks which allow university leaders to design internal structures efficiently, select and train staff, shape academic programmes and use financial resources, all of these in line with their specific institutional missions and profiles.”
• "Increasing and diversifying income: to achieve financial sustainability, by implementing sound accounting practices that identify the full costs of all activities, diversifying the income portfolio and securing adequate public funding, thus providing the basis to fulfill the university’s core missions over the long-term.”
reaffirms the principles of university autonomy and points out the historical under-financing of European higher education institutions. EUA also makes the case for funding of research on a full cost basis to be included in the ERA agenda.
Autonomy is defined as consisting of the following dimensions:
• academic autonomy (deciding on degree supply, curriculum and methods of teaching; deciding on areas, scope, aims, and methods of research.)
• financial autonomy (acquiring and allocating funding, deciding on tuition fees, accumulating surplus)
• organisational autonomy (setting the university structures and statutes, making contracts, electing decision-making bodies and persons)
• staffing autonomy (responsibility for recruitment, salaries and promotion).
Increasing and diversifying funding streams: EUA continues to be committed to identifying supplementary revenue streams for universities and to promoting modes of governance that support optimal transparency in financial management. […] EUA will continue its investigations to the point at which it can reliably profile European universities on the basis of an agreed template and elaborate a general costing methodology. This requires more comprehensive mapping of current public funding models, of their legal and financial environments, and of the supplementary income streams available.[…] EUA supports the European Commission’s goal of increasing investment in higher education to at least 2% of GDP within a decade and urges all partners to work together to ensure that this target is met.
“EUA believes that there is a strong case for a ‘transition phase’ in which universities have sufficient time to develop further their accounting systems to be able to operate fully within the proposed FP7 eligible research costs model. The most critical issue will be the level of the flat rate for indirect research costs re-imbursement in the case of those universities that are not yet able to identify fully such costs. Without such a transition period, there is a real danger that university participation will decline in FP7. The ‘transition phase’ should take the following preferred form:
- the fixing of the flat rate payment (on research and development activities for public bodies and higher education institutions) for indirect research costs at 60% of total direct costs.
Such a transition phase should be offered as an incentive to universities to develop their accounting systems to be able to operate on full eligible cost principles by the end of FP7.”
The Declaration states clearly that adequate funding is a prerequisite for securing universities’ future and, with it, their capacity for promoting cultural, social and technological innovation. The Declaration emphasises that Europe cannot hope to compete with education systems in other parts of the world if higher education and research budgets are not viewed as an investment in the future and urgently increased. At the institutional level, universities are committed to improving their governing structures and leadership competence so as to increase their efficiency and innovative capacity and to achieve their multiple missions.
This Declaration also emphasises the need for institutional diversity:
“Universities are developing differentiated missions and profiles to address the challenges of global competition while maintaining a commitment to access and social cohesion. Diversification and greater competition are balanced by inter-institutional cooperation based on a shared commitment to quality.”
“Governments must therefore empower institutions and strengthen their essential autonomy by providing stable legal and funding environments. Universities accept accountability and will assume the responsibility of implementing reform in close cooperation with students and stakeholders, improving institutional quality and strategic management capacity. “
“European higher education institutions accept the challenges of operating in a competitive environment at home, in Europe and in the world, but to do so they need the necessary managerial freedom, light and supportive regulatory frameworks and fair financing, or they will be placed at a disadvantage in cooperation and competition. The dynamics needed for the completion of the European Higher Education Area will remain unfulfilled or will result in unequal competition, if the current over-regulation and minute administrative and financial control of higher education in many countries is upheld.”