Last week, the latest Education and Training Monitor was published by the European Commission, highlighting the impact of budget cuts on European higher education.
The Commission has been calling Member states to focus on “growth friendly expenditure“, including education and training, issuing individual recommendations to 17 countries in July 2013. However, the tendency is that funding available for education and training has been decreasing and budget cuts are a common phenomenon across Europe.
Europe 2020 Strategy has specified a target of 40% of people aged 30-34 holding a higher education degree, and while progress is slow, there has been steady increase towards that number. However, despite the average number looking good, this increase might only lead to more disparity between countries. Clear differences can be identified between countries like Greece and Italy on the one hand, and the likes of Ireland on the other. With successful countries increasing their attainment levels, the gap with the countries not following this increase is only likely to increase.
The Education and Training Monitor further refers to PIAAC results to highlight problems with adult skills and competencies in Europe, and how this would be a serious concern for competitiveness in Europe. The issue is also closely aligned with EU focus on lifelong learning, as the key findings suggest: “Europe is facing a serious skills gap that risks hampering growth and employment in the future“. Furthermore, the ones participating in lifelong learning tend to be the ones who are young and highly educated. This is highlighted as an issue, as: “20% of 16 to 65 year-olds is unable to exceed a basic level of literacy and 24% is unable to do so in numeracy“.