Tag: funding

Hedda podcast: Performance agreements in higher education with dr Ben Jongbloed

Dr. Ben Jongbloed  (CHEPS)

Dr. Ben Jongbloed

Episode 48 of our podcast series features Dr. Ben Jongbloed (CHEPS, University of Twente). In the podcast, he discusses performance agreements in higher education. He gives the basic characteristics of performance agreements as a funding mechanism with respect to the main results from a recently completed CHEPS report for the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. He reflects on the Dutch experiences with performance agreements, some of the impacts this far. He also shares his views on critical success factors for creating a well functioning performance agreement system.

Listen without the Flashplayer

You can download the CHEPS report “Performance-based funding and Performance Agreements in fourteen Higher Education Systems” here.

Dr. Ben Jongbloed is a senior research associate at CHEPS. He studied econometrics at the University of Groningen and completed a PhD at the University of Twente (on the modelling of government expenditure in a macro-econometric framework).

His main research interests are in the area of governance and resource allocation issues in higher education. He has also been involved in a number of European Commission projects, with focus on reforms in higher education, public-private partnerships, and the building of a classification of European higher education institutions (U-Map). For the European Commission he is currently working on the implementation of a multi-dimensional ranking of universities worldwide (U-Multirank) and on policies aimed at improving student completion in higher education.

Guest blogger: From performance to conformance: The ‘coercive’ effect of performance-based governance systems

Dr. Peter Woelert

Dr. Peter Woelert

Dr Peter Woelert is a Research Fellow in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. He has training in sociology and philosophy. His research interests include current trends in university and research policy & governance, organizational change within universities, and organizational forms of university autonomy. 

Over recent decades, many governments have sought to comprehensively reform the system-level policy and governance arrangements for their public universities. One central element of this reform has been the strengthening of performance-based funding mechanisms, with a growing proportion of public funds being distributed to universities according to the results (or ‘outputs’) achieved by them.

A striking case in point for this trend is the Australian higher education system. Since the late 1980s, various Australian governments have developed a funding system for their universities that places paramount emphasis on the performance-based allocation of funds. Most far-reaching have been the changes to the funding of university-based research activities.

In Australia, all recurrent governmental research funding – as compared to the competitive research grant funding awarded by the two Australian research councils – is allocated to universities on the basis of an indicator-based funding formula. The key performance indicators in this regard are the number of publications, external research income, and the number of students completing research degrees such as a doctorate, and which are applied equally to all Australian universities. While indicator-based public research funds only form a relatively small proportion of the annual income of Australian universities (in between 5-10%), they are taken extremely seriously at the university level, and have had a lasting impact on institutional governance systems.

Most notably in this regard is that within the Australian university system, the reshaping of system-level funding arrangements has triggered a vertical adaptation process as a result of which various organizational levels of the university almost identically replicate the performance criteria that are applied to it from above.

This begins with the executive center of the university, which usually applies the same or nearly the same performance criteria across the university’s organizational divisions that the Australian government uses for the performance-based allocation of research funds across the entire university sector.

Norway: expert group suggesting the introduction of contracts

norwayflagIn April 2014, the Norwegian ministry of education set up a new expert group to examine the funding system in Norwegian higher education. At the time, we also interviewed professor Bjørn Stensaker who is a member of this expert group, and he highlighted that “one of the main aims of the Commission is to look into how quality within the sector can be fostered through the funding system.

The mandate of the expert group was to:

  • stimulate devlopment of quality in education and research
  • contribute to a diversified sector (division of labour and profiles)
  • contribute to cooperation with society and industry
  • provide strategic room to maneuver for the institutions while making them accountable for results
  •  contribute to cost-effective resource use
  • provide stability and predictability for the institutions
  • create incentives for competition in European arenas and strenghten international coperation

On January 7th, the commission delivered the report to the ministry, with a set of recommendations rgarding the funding system. The report gave an evaluation of the current funding system, as well as a set of recommendations for the future.

The report highlights that in principle, the system is of appropriate size, as there is low unemployment rates amongst the graduates, and the match between graduate profiles and labour market needs is in general rather good, with some exceptions. One problem where there has not been significant improvements in the last ten years is system efficiency, and the report highlights persistent dropout rates as an indication of this. Regarding research, there has been considerable increases in output – both in terms of publications and in terms of completed PhD degrees. The sector has become more international, both in terms of education and research. A key concern highlighted in the report is the fragmentation of the system with many small environments, while institutions have become more alike, and the report argues that this can be linked to the framework conditions and funding system that creates similar incentives for all institutions. 

New EUA report on public funding of higher education in Europe published last Friday

EUA Public Funding Observatory online tool

EUA Public Funding Observatory online tool

The European University Association (EUA) has published the 2014 analysis from the Public Funding Observatory. The report examines latest developments (2013-2014) regarding public funding of universities in Europe, as well as devlopments since 2008.

The report is based on data that the EUA has been collecting since 2008, the data is reported by National Rectors Conferences. Currently, the report includes 28 countries/regions in Europe. The report highlights some clear patterns in public funding.

For the most recent developments (2013-2014) data is provided for 19 countries. When corrections for inflation are taken into account, it is about as many countries where funding has been increased (7), than those where it has decreased (8) regarding the latest developments. Another 4 countries experience a stable funding situation (+/- 1%). When the change is adjusted for inflation, two countries show increase over 5% – Poland and Portugal. In both countries, public funding until this year has decreased. In Portugal, this is the first increase since 2010.

The decrease has been more than 10% (after adjustment for inflation) in three countries – Greece, Lithuania and United Kingdom. For Greece this is a rather drastic situation as public funding has been almost halved since 2008. The cuts in UK have not been as drastic, but have also shown a clear downward trend since the peak in 2010. For Lithuania, the funding levels have also been decreasing since 2008, and the cut this year was substantial.

Looking at the overall trends between 2008 and 2014, three countries have experienced an increase of public gunding that is between 20 and 40%, this is Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Furthermore, the countries where the increase has been over 5% include Poland, Austria and the Belgium (French community).

News: New report on impact of cost-sharing

fee_studyAt 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.

Interview with Prof. B. Stensaker about his new appointment in a national expert group

Professor Bjørn Stensaker  (HEIK, University of Oslo)

Professor Bjørn Stensaker
(HEIK, University of Oslo)

Bjørn Stensaker is a Professor of Higher Education at the University of Oslo and is also involved in the Hedda Master programme in higher education with teaching and supervision of students. He is also a member of the research group HEIK (Higher Education: Institutional dynamics and knowledge cultures)

Recently, he was appointed to a newly founded expert  group in Norway that will examine the funding structure of higher education and advise the Minister on future developments. The Commission is led by Torbjørn Hægeland and it will deliver their conclusions by the end of the year. On this occasion, we asked Bjørn about his thoughts related to the new appointment and his evaluation on the current state of affairs in Norwegian higher education. 

You have newly been appointed to the national commission that will look into the funding system of HE in Norway. Could you tell a little what the role and mandate for the group will be?

Well, it is still early days, and it should be underlined that the Commission haven’t had its forst meeting yet. However, the Minister has been quite clear that one of the main aims of the Commission is to look into how quality within the sector can be fostered through the funding system. This would imply a shift from the current system which is more emphasising productivity/efficiency.

In your opinion, what are some of the core issues in Norway that highlight the need for re-examining the funding system?

Student blogger: Potential pathways towards more diversified funding in Ghana

Palmah A. Howusu

Palmah A. Howusu

This guest entry is written by Palmah A. Howusu who is now a second year Master student at the Hedda Master Programme in Higher Education. Palmah is from Ghana and has earlier worked as a teacher in Ghana for over ten years. Furthermore, she holds a bachelors degree in Psychology. In this entry, she writes about the  problems with current funding system in Ghana and suggest some potential alternative solutions to diversify funding of higher education in Ghana. 

Governments all over the world are finding it difficult to continue funding higher education and Africa is the most affected since the majority of her support is from donor countries. This makes the questions of how to diversify university funding especially important.

In Ghana, higher education consists of eight universities, ten polytechnics and other professional institutions. Admission into higher education institutions is determined by students’ performance at the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSSCE). Higher education was traditionally free in Ghana and qualified students were entitled to free boarding and lodging. Nevertheless, the trend has changed in the past 30 years as the government has not been able to meet the financial needs of the modern university hence reducing its subsidies. The government considered several steps towards adjusting the financial structure of the higher education system: public-private partnership, increasing the number of public universities, and in 1997, cost sharing was introduced.

Financing of higher education was divided between the Government (70 per cent) and the remaining 30 percent was divided among three sources (university internally generated revenue, students’ tuition fees and private donations). Academic facility user fees of ($60-$220), residential facility user fees and hall dues were $130 and $25 respectively in 2011/2012 academic year. These fees were introduced at a minimal level but are being increased as the years go by. Consequently, students who were living in university housing pay both while those off campuses pay non-residential facility user fees of about $19. Though it is only 10% of the total university cost that was shifted to students and parents, many people were not in favour of cost sharing leading to students’ riots in the 90s. However, by now the fees are seen as a ‘necessary evil’.

News: 2013 EUA report on public funding of universities launched

EUA2013This week, the European University Association (EUA) published a new report on the issue of funding of higher education in Europe in the context of crisis, following up on the previous report from June 2012 that identified that the countries which had suffered most from cuts in public funding were to a large extent located in Eastern and Southern Europe.

The news release from the 2013 report highlights that out of the 17 countries that had reported data on funding developments the changes in the last year show that in a number of countries the public budgets are now on the increase:

  • nine countries reported an increase in funding (Austria, Iceland, Czech Republic, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Belgian French-speaking Community, France, Lithuania)
  • eight reported cuts up to 25%  (Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia, Croatia, Portugal, UK – England and Wales, Greece, Hungary)

Regarding countries with a high increase, Iceland reports a 23% increase from 2012, but this is mostly linked to student numbers. However, the increases were noticeable also in the other countries with positive numbers. It should be noted that in Italy, Netherlands and Slovakia the picture emerging was in  essence that the budget was stable, and not decreasing in any significant manner.

Only in Greece and Hungary the decrease was above 10%, ranging 25% in Greece. According to the report, in both of those countries the situation now is quite dramatic, with the overall developments beteen 2008 and 2013 (not adjusted to inflation) highlighting cuts that total -46% in Greece and about -31% in Hungary.

Call for applicants: position on economics of education in Finland

jyvaskylaWorking with issues related to funding of education? Want to experience living and working in the country with arguably the best school system? In University of Jyväskylä two positions in this area have been announced with association to  Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics (JSBE) and the Finnish Institute for Educational Research (FIER):

  1. Professor, economics of education, contract length open-ended.
  2. University researcher, economics of education, contract length four years or open-ended.

A professor in economics of education is expected to combine economics and educational research in his or her research work. In filling this position, the focus is on experience in empirical research, and on the ability to publish research results in the best international journals of economics and/or education. It is likely that the applicants’ expertise lies either in the research of economics or education.

More information can be found here. The deadline for applications is 4.15 pm on 10 June 2013.

News: Recent developments in EU – new funding frame and upcoming programmes

EUAbout ten days ago, on 8th of February, the European Council (consisting of heads of state of EU countries) reached an agreement on the new multiannual framework (MFF) for  the budget cycle 2014-2020. This in itself is not a budget negotiation, but has three aims: (a) the limit of possible spending – the “ceiling”, (b) on what the money should be spent and (c) rules of where the expenditure is to come from.   (read more about what you need to know about the MFF here).

These decisions have important impacts on the policy focus of the EU, and the emphasis of EU activities during the cycle, and as such have also important consequences for education as a policy sector, especially as the role of EU as a supranational policy actor in education has often been linked to their capacity to provide funding and administrative capacity. As such, a more constrained funding environment can also have consequences for the opportunities of EU to take this role in an active manner.

For the first time, the overall available expenditure was less than during the previous budget year. The overall ceiling was set as  EUR 908.40 billion, compared to EUR 942.78 billion in the MFF 2007-2013, a reduction of 3,4% in real terms. However, in this context, education was clearly identified as a priority area, and the summary of the agreement provided by EU indicated that “EU leaders agreed on a substantial increase of the financial means for future geared expenditure such as research, innovation and education“. Furthermore, it is indicated that “the expenditure ceiling for sub-heading 1a (“competitiveness”) amounts to EUR 125.61 billion, which is an increase of more than 37% compared to the MFF 2007-2013“.