At a time when various models of cost-sharing have been introduced in many higher education systems and yet more are considering such measures, the impact of changes in cost-sharing is an important question. The EU funded a study conducted by DZHW and HESA to examine these questions, with nine case studies on countries like Austria, Canada, UK-England, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal and South Korea.
The central question for the report is formulated as: “Do changes in cost-sharing have an impact on the behaviour of students and higher education institutions?” The study examines net costs for students (incl also living costs), and the changing balance of revenues in the budgets of higher education institutions. The key findings include the following:
In the case studies examined, introduction of cost-sharing increased overall system incomes and did not lead to substantial decrease in public funding, with the exception of financial crisis (Canada) or other extraordinary situations (i.e massive enrollment growth in Poland). It should be noted that he most recent reform in England was not included in the study due to its recent nature.
It was also highlighted that income from tuition fees does not always lead to better student experience as student-staff ratios rose despite increased revenues. Instead, the cases examined in the report showed that extra revenue was in many cases used up by expanding enrollments, administrative costs, or even subsidising research activities.