Sense & sustainability: future paths for university finances

What will be financed tomorrow, and how, depends largely on what expectations society and policy makers have of universities. What competing visions of the future for the sector are out there, in light of enhanced competition from other types of providers or academic and professional paths?

In the past decade, university funding has seen near constant reform activity. Narratives have evolved, new instruments have been introduced. Overall, the funding landscape has grown more and more complex, echoing the diversification of the missions and activities of universities.

Higher education faces new demands and priorities, but in parallel, the horizon has changed. Universities must both act upon and contribute to global transformation processes such as the green and digital transitions. They also strategically experiment with new forms of international collaboration, while operating in an increasingly unstable geopolitical environment. European university alliances are one of the most prominent examples of such developments. These trends affect all dimensions of university funding: by whom? For what? How? And how much?

How can funding adapt to the evolving needs, priorities and perceptions of higher education? Is innovation in funding possible? How can European university alliances become sustainable in the long term? What implications do changes in the funding landscape have on governance and leadership? What is the capacity of universities themselves to think ahead and develop financial strategies? Which investment priorities are needed to future-proof activities? 

The 2024 EUA Funding Forum aims to reinject some ‘sense and sustainability’ into this discussion and outline possible future paths for university finances.


Sari Lindblom 2023 for webWelcome to the European University Association (EUA) Funding Forum, hosted by the University of Helsinki!

We are proud to extend a warm welcome to this significant event, which brings together European universities and finance experts to discuss and share insights on matters related to university funding. The University of Helsinki is committed to advancing high-level research and higher education, and collaboration, at the European level, and we are excited to serve as the host for this valuable forum.

The current situation regarding appreciation for research and education in Europe varies from country to country and region to region, but here are some general observations:

Many European countries emphasise the importance of research as a driver of innovation and economic growth. Several European countries are working to improve the accessibility and quality of education. While research and education are central, funding for them may be challenging in many European countries due to economic pressures. Some European countries are experiencing polarization between the scientific community and the public. European countries are increasingly seeking to enhance international collaboration in research and education.

Overall, appreciation for research and education in Europe is often high, but it is influenced by many factors such as political decisions, economic resources, and societal attitudes. Continued commitment to supporting and developing these areas is crucial for Europe's future.

EUA’s Funding Forum provides a unique opportunity for networking, sharing best practices, and engaging in in-depth discussions on the challenges and opportunities in university funding. We hope that this forum will inspire and empower you to discover new perspectives and solutions for advancing university funding in Europe.

We extend our sincere gratitude to EUA for their collaboration in organising this event, and we wish all participants fruitful discussions and a successful forum. Welcome to the University of Helsinki! HY LC01 LogoFP 3L B3 BW

Professor Sari Lindblom, Rector


© Veikko Somerpuro

Helsinki from above fall JussiHellsten webSituated on the Baltic Sea, Finland’s capital, Helsinki, is a modern city of over half a million people and the second most northern capital in Europe. Surrounded by an archipelago of hundreds of tiny islands, and culturally influenced by both the East and West, Helsinki is unique, combining both modern and historic architectural styles with a love of open spaces that is at the very heart of Finnish identity. Helsinki is known as a stable and clean city with high standards of education and technology. Helsinki is large enough to provide all the services that a major conference may require, yet small enough to make delegates feel at home during their stay.

Helsinki is a compact city that is easy to explore on foot, as most of the sights are within walking distance. Even in the busy city centre, you are never far away from green areas and the sea. Helsinki has an excellent public transport system (HSL comprising bus, tram, metro, commuter train and ferry services. Helsinki is committed to promoting a more sustainable way of life and has set an aim to be carbon neutral by 2030.

MyHelsinki – your local guide to Helsinki

© Jussi Hellsten


MainBuilding resized for webThe University of Helsinki, an international scientific community of 40,000 students and researchers scattered into 11 faculties on four campuses, is the oldest and largest institution of academic education in Finland. The university seeks solutions for global challenges and creates new ways of thinking for the best of humanity. Through the power of knowledge, the University of Helsinki has contributed to society, education, and welfare since 1640.

Events organised by the University of Helsinki reflect the university’s sustainable and responsible operations, which respect the ecological boundaries of the planet, promote equality, diversity, and accessibility, as well as safeguard the continuity of our operations also for future generations.  The EUA Funding Forum is organised as a sustainable and responsible event. All conference venues, including hotels, are located within a short walking distance of each other. The meals are mainly vegetarian and we try to minimize food waste.

Guide for visitors:

 © Linda Tammisto

For the 2024 Forum, EUA invites proposals focusing on university funding at institutional, national or international level for its breakout sessions.

More information on how to submit your application. Deadline is 29 April.

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