Tag: report

New research reports on higher education systems in the Balkans

western balkansHigher education in the Western Balkans was for a long period a relatively under-researcher region in Europe, but has in recent years gained more attention and an number of interesting research projects are underway.

As part of the project “European Integration of Higher Education and Research in the Western Balkans,” (read more about the project here) the project team has produced the series of reports entitled “Overview of Higher Education and Research Systems in the Western Balkanswhich are now available for download on the project website. The reports cover seven higher education systems in the region – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo*, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia and each of the reports represents a comprehensive overview of the higher education and research systems in the region, covering topics such as policy, governance arrangements, funding, institutional landscape, and quality, while focusing on the major reforms and trends in the recent years.

Another project that examines the region is titled “Differentiation, Equity, Productivity: The Social and Economic Consequences of Expanded and Differentiated Higher Education Systems – Internationalisation Aspects“, led by University of Ljubljana, where the research team is led by prof. Pavel Zgaga from Centre of Educational Policy Studies (CEPS). In a recent report they have published the results of a survey at seventeen higher education institutions from eight countries of the Western Balkans. You can download the report here. 

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.

For profit education in the US receiving major criticisms in a new report

A few days ago, the report of a 2 year investigation by a Committee of the Senate, led by Tom Harkin, was presented with severe criticisms towards current practices in for profit education in the US. The report is based on an extensive two year investigation and resulted in a in-depth report about the selected 30 companies that were examined.

The report indicated that of the public federal funds, $32 billion are invested to for profit higher education institutions (HEI) – accounting for 25% of total student aid programme funds. The calculations in the report indicate that 86% of the revenue in these institutions comes from federal dollars. This raises important questions of accountability.

However, the report also indicated that over half of the students who enrolled in year 2008/09 have not finished their education. While one can question whether this also has something to do with the types of students who enroll in for profit higher education (often non-traditional students who need more flexible solutions), the numbers are nevertheless worrying – especially in the light of significant public contribution to the sector.

The report highlights that the moment, the laws do not create a link between success of students and financial success of the institution, thus creating little incentives to get students to graduate. At the times where demand is high this creates a niche for a lucrative business for the companies owning these HEI. In essence, it is a business with an astonishing profit margin, funded by public funds, where there is no need to assure that the customers receive what they pay for. The report indicates lack of investment in student support services and other education related aspects, and an extremely high level of investment to marketing (i.e. there is over 35 thousand recruiters working in the 30 for profit education colleges examined). For example, the report indicates that while 23% of revenue is used on marketing, only 17% is used on instruction.

New visual tool for examining university autonomy in Europe

Some time ago, The European University Association (EUA) published a new follow-up to their 2009 study on university autonomy in Europe. The study includes 28 European countries, amongst them also two German lander.

The report included examining autonomy on four areas with a number of indicators : organisational (7), financial (11), staffing (8) and academic (12) autonomy. The scores indicated that it is UK and Estonia who received high scores on all four of these aspects whereas a number of other countries ranked more unevenly, receiving high scores on some aspects and lower on others.

It was also indicated that EUA would develop a visual tool for examining university autonomy early 2012, and this has now been launched on a separate webpage. While the data was also earlier presented in a report form, one cannot help but notice that this visualisation creates quite a nice and neat overview comparison between European countries in terms of these various indicators and does give a simple and quick comparison point for examining university autonomy.

Of course, one can question the content and selection of indicators, and the purposes of such ranking – but it nevertheless provides a quick comparison point for examining these areas across Europe.

You can view the visual tool here!

University autonomy in Europe: highest in UK and Estonia

The European University Association (EUA) has recently published a new report on university autonomy across Europe. The updated data builds on the report from 2009, and examines four dimensions of autonomy: financial, organisational, staffing and academic autonomy. Autonomy has been a core objective in the recent European policy discussions, having been identified as a key area in need of reform Europe wide.

The study by EUA focuses on examining these four dimensions of autonomy  in 26 European countries. In addition to case analysis of each country, the study also provides a more simplified illustration of each country by developing a set of scorecards based on these four dimensions of autonomy and ranking countries based on four levels: high, medium-high, medium-low and low.

Full organisational autonomy in UK

In terms of organisational autonomy (including aspects such as issues related to executive head, procedures for the external governing bodies and capacity for structural decisions), the countries that were ranked as having most organisational autonomy were UK, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, North Rhine-Westphalia and Ireland. While in most of these countries there is at least some indication on for example the composition of the governing board or the criteria for selecting an executive head, the UK system exhibits full organisational autonomy as defined in this study, receiving a full 100% score – this means that the higher education institutions can decide on all aspects without state involvement. The countries with least organisational autonomy are Turkey and Luxembourg.