Universities across Europe are facing a challenging and complex financial situation in which traditional modes of funding have been transformed and continue to evolve. EUA’s Public Funding Observatory shows that the economic crisis led many countries to reduce public funding for universities. Despite the recent economic upturn, there is still growing stress on the sustainability of funding and mounting pressure to explore new sources of income. The efficiency of funding in terms of the capability to meet certain policy goals in a cost-effective way is therefore highly important.
EUA closely follows the broad array of policy responses to these challenges. One approach is to link public funding for universities to performance, using proxies for output rather than more traditional input-based funding. Larger-scale system restructuring is also considered to enhance efficiency and international competitiveness. This can be done, for example, by promoting institutional mergers, fostering the differentiation of institutional profiles or creating excellence hubs through specific funding schemes. As a consequence, in many countries in the EU and its Neighbourhood, funding schemes for universities are under revision.
EUA has analysed the related consequences on university funding and governance, in particular the impact such measures have on the institutions themselves, on their teaching and research activities, as well as on their interaction with society and different stakeholders. EUA provides continued support and expertise to institutions and systems in addressing such changes.
EUA keeps a close eye on public funding for Europe’s universities its Public Funding Observatory captures the very latest trends impacting Europe’s universities and offers the most up-to-date information on dozens of different higher education systems across the continent. The data is laid out in a series of reports and an interactive online tool, which is updated annually. The Observatory provides a unique international benchmarking tool and is used by policy makers and sector representatives alike to support the national dialogue on university funding.
The monitoring is conducted in close cooperation with EUA’s collective members, the national rectors’ conferences, which regularly provide extensive funding data on their countries and report on trends developing within their national higher education systems.
The EUA Funding Forum is a biennial European event for university leaders and managers, policy-makers, as well as researchers, to share, learn, grow and improve in strategic governance and funding matters.
Notably, the Funding Forum seeks to:
In a context of constraint and competition for public resources, funding efficiency and accountability of public spending are highly important. Linking public funding to institutional performance is an idea that often features in discussions on university funding policy at both the national and European level. Policy makers often see performance-based funding as a useful tool in connecting funding to measurable indicators. The expected result is more transparency in spending, as well as a clear way to incentivise and reward the achievement of certain policy goals.
Through its work, EUA has revealed that the expectations of performance-based funding are often too high and should therefore be used with caution. On the positive side, it can help increase the transparency of funding allocation and the accountability of public spending as it links funding to measurable indicators and achievements. Performance-based funding might also support profiling and the strategic positioning of universities.
EUA’s “University Efficiency Hub” is an online portal that allows university practitioners and policy makers across Europe to share knowledge and hands-on experience on efficiency, effectiveness and value for money in the field of higher education. It provides information on national frameworks as well as institutional good practices and a self-evaluation tool for universities to move forward in their strategy.
“Excellence funding” refers to public funding schemes whose main objective is to foster excellence. It primarily concerns large-scale initiatives in which public funding is directed to universities on a competitive basis and is focused on the development of wider institutional strategies.
Public authorities may choose to implement such measures for a variety of reasons, including enhancing international visibility, improving the quality of research or teaching, and better matching supply and demand in the higher education market.
However, in a context of constrained resources, excellence schemes are also meant to increase funding efficiency. They often lead to the concentration of funding by creating hierarchies between institutions.
EUA has analysed these schemes and their significant impact both on institutions and on higher education systems in “Designing Strategies for Efficient Funding of Universities in Europe”.
An overarching objective to achieve better rules for participation in the EU funding programmes is "simplification”. This is an important dimension given its direct impact on universities. EUA has consistently advocated for a more impactful approach to simplification focused on beneficiaries and their specific needs. This approach is mindful of their great diversity and based on high-quality processes and an effective use of resources. In this context, EUA has argued for the wider acceptance of nationally recognised institutional management and accounting practices of beneficiaries as the key implementation principle and the most significant way to enhance efficiency and participation in the EU funding programmes. EUA has collected evidence on how these principles were implemented in 12 countries in a report that explores possibilities for a better alignment of practices between the EU and the national level. In order to achieve this, EUA summarised the data gathered in the compendium in concrete strategic and practical recommendations addressed to EU policy makers.
Other important elements of the Framework Programme implementation supported by EUA’s campaign include a more flexible model grant agreement and more efficient and effective auditing processes. On these matters, EUA relies on its members’ technical expertise shared through EUA consultations and surveys, as well as through a dedicated expert group of university administrators.
EUA has fed this input to the European Commission and the European Court of Auditors in the framework of bilateral exchanges and expert groups, as well as to the European Parliament and the EU Council ahead of the adoption of the legislation establishing Horizon Europe.
EUA’s “EU funding for universities” campaign was geared towards attaining improved funding conditions for universities at the European level. The campaign focused on achieving a decision in the EU’s post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework that is favourable to investment in higher education and research and innovation. EUA was specifically advocating for a higher budget for the 9th Framework Programme (Horizon Europe) and the Erasmus+ programme.
Activities in this campaign focused on two areas:
University R&I, and its synergies with education and service to society, is the premier gateway to the knowledge and skills needed for scientific progress and sustainable societal development.
As European leaders work towards an agreement on the European Union’s next seven-year budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework, and the related Next Generation EU recovery plan to help the EU’s economy back on its feet, EUA and 14 partner university associations reiterate the urgent need to invest in research, innovation and education to achieve long-term, sustainable recovery and strategic resilience.
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EUA has joined SDG Watch Europe to provide input into the upcoming European Commission proposal for a Council Recommendation on education for environmental sustainability. The Recommendation will look at challenges for the integration of environmental approaches into education at all levels and...view more
On 16 June 2021, the European Commission adopted the long-awaited main work programme of Horizon Europe for 2021-2022. It sets out funding opportunities with the total amount of €14.7 billion, most of which will be invested in research and innovation to accelerate the green and digital...view more
Scholars at Risk – Ireland and ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, organise the online conference “Academic freedom and intellectual dissent” on 8 June, from 15.00 to 20.00 CEST. This conference will focus on the importance of intellectual dissent and...view more
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The European Parliament and EU Council negotiating team finally agreed on the EU’s multiannual financial framework, a process made more complex than ever this time due to the pandemic and the related new recovery package, the difficulties of striking a deal among member states, and the strongly...view more
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The presidents of the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK), Universities Austria (UNIKO) and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), all EUA members, have published a common statement urging governments to recognise the value of education, research and innovation in the EU...view more
The European University Association’s response to Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the Union speech Under President Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission has set an ambitious agenda for Europe, for the green and digital transitions of the continent and for Europe’s role in the world. These...view more
The European Parliament met on 23 July in an extraordinary plenary session to adopt a resolution declaring that it does not accept the budget deal made by EU leaders on 21 July. EUA welcomes the resolution and supports the European Parliament in its call for more funding for research, innovation...view more
On 21 July, EU leaders agreed on the next EU seven-year budget and the associated recovery plan after a long and difficult summit spanning over four days. The outcome reveals a failure to invest strategically in the future, with curtailed ambitions towards research, innovation and...view more
European leaders meet this week on 17-18 July with the goal of reaching an agreement on the European Union’s next seven-year budget and the related recovery plan to help the EU’s economy back on its feet. On this occasion, EUA and 14 partner university associations reiterate the urgent need to...view more
On 9 July, the European Commission announced the selection results of the second pilot call under the European Universities Initiative. Out of 62 applications, 24 new university alliances were chosen with a total of 165 participating higher education institutions from 26 countries. 122 of those...view more
In the European Commission’s latest proposal for the EU’s next seven-year budget, Erasmus+ is projected to be funded with 24.6 billion euros. While this would represent an increase of 3.4 billion compared to the 2014-2020 programme, EUA has expressed concern in a statement that the amount will not...view more
The Energy Policy and Development Centre (KEPA) of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in Greece organises the 13th International Conference on Energy and Climate Change on 7-9 October 2020, with the 7th Green Energy Investments Forum taking place on the first day. Last year, the...view more
As the European Commission released its new proposal for the next seven-year budget of the European Union, the academic community nourished hope that, in the few past months, it had become clear to policymakers just how fundamental adequate investment in research, innovation and education is to...view more
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EU Research & Innovation Framework Programmes’ (FPs) beneficiaries, including universities, research and technology organisations and businesses, launched a petition urging the European Institutions to take into consideration the major concerns raised by the proposed Horizon Europe Model Grant...view more
The European Students Union (ESU), the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) and the European University Foundation (EUF) are launching a proposal for a baseline mobility grant of 500€/month from 2021 onwards. The #Erasmus500 Declaration builds upon a DAAD proposal from 2019 and is aimed at addressing...view more
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Friends of the ERC, an initiative in support of the European Research Council (ERC), launched a petition to call upon the Heads of States and Governments, to secure funding for the ERC in Horizon Europe, the next European framework programme for Research and Innovation. The petition is...view more
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A petition from the Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE) calls on member states to invest more in education, research, and innovation. ISE asks supporters to sign the petition and spread the word within Europe’s research community. The campaign comes as negotiations on the EU’s next...view more
In an important new step towards a final decision on the European Union’s financial framework for 2021-2027, the Finnish presidency of the EU Council released its proposal for the bloc’s future budget. Referred to as a “negotiating box”, the proposal includes figures for the overall budget as well...view more
EUA has issued a statement on the future Model Grant Agreement that is under preparation as part of the Horizon Europe implementation process. To ensure major simplification and to mitigate the risk of errors, the Association is calling for a new Model Grant Agreement that builds on a broader...view more
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In November, EUA published the joint call “Seize our common future”, which it launched with 14 other university networks. The call gathered over 300 signatories, including 25 national university associations. EUA presented the call to both to the outgoing and incoming EU Commissioners for...view more
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Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner-designate for Innovation and Youth, was well-received during her official hearing in the European Parliament on 30 September. As the College of Commissioners awaits final approval, Gabriel has already begun meetings with key stakeholders. This week she sat down with...view more
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Update 19/11/2019 On 18 November, the EU Council and the European Parliament reached an agreement on the EU budget for 2020. The deal includes more funds for Horizon 2020, successfully reinforcing the programme with an increased focus on climate research. There will be this 13.46bn Euros...view more
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The USTREAM project has successfully completed a series of three national policy dialogue events, organised jointly with local partners in May-June 2018. Each event was tailored to the specific needs of and the current developments in the higher education sector in three host countries – Latvia,...view more
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