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.
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” (available as of October 2018) 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”.
The simplification of the university funding landscape is a complex matter in national and European contexts. In an environment characterised by scarce resources, it has become a strategic priority, as it has the potential for channelling resources back to the completion of the universities’ core mission in higher education and research.
EUA defines simplification as the achievement of a coherent set of rules that is mindful of the diversity of actions and beneficiaries accommodated in a programme, and that ensures both high-quality processes and an effective use of resources.
At the European level, the wider acceptance of nationally-recognised institutional management and accounting practices of beneficiaries constitutes the most significant way to enhance efficiency and participation in the programme.
As part of its campaign “EU funding for universities”, EUA shows that impactful simplification lies in reducing the gap between the different accounting practices required by the various funders.
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:
EUA’s “EU funding for universities” campaign is geared towards attaining improved funding conditions for universities at the European level. The campaign focuses 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 is specifically advocating for a higher budget for the 9th Framework Programme (Horizon Europe) and the Erasmus+ programme.
Activities in this campaign focus on two areas:
The European Commission’s new proposal for the next seven-year budget of the European Union together with the Next Generation EU recovery plan falls short of much needed investment in research, innovation and education.
The European Universities Initiative has been at the centre of many discussions in European higher education and research for the past couple of years. Universities across the continent enthusiastically embraced the pilot phase launched by the European Commission in 2018 and the initiative is developing against a highly dynamic policy backdrop.
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. Organisers of...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
There is a legitimate need for data on the performance of higher education institutions. It is...read more
In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, and its expected economic impact, this EUA briefing...read more
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
EUA has published the position “The future of the European Universities Initiative – the sector’s perspective” together with the results of the recent EUA survey on international strategic institutional partnerships and the European Universities Initiative. Endorsed by the EUA Council, the...view more
In early 2020, EUA conducted a survey on international strategic institutional partnerships and...read more
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
Building synergies between education, research and innovation across disciplines is crucial to...read more
The Public Funding Observatory report 2019/20 is accompanied by individual country...read more
The Public Funding Observatory Report 2019/20 offers the most up-to-date information on 34 higher...read more
European Council President Charles Michel called a special European Summit on 20 February to discuss the Multiannual Financial Framework. The negotiations of this seven-year budget are down to the wire and will determine the future of key programmes like Horizon Europe and Erasmus+. EUA...view more
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
As negotiations continue on the future Horizon Europe programme, the discussion on the Model Grant...read more
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
On 8 November, the first ever joint meeting of member state education and finance ministers at EU level took place in Brussels. Discussions circled around the contribution of education and training to long-term sustainable growth and policies strengthening the efficiency and effectiveness of...view more
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
EUA Vice President Paul Boyle represented Europe’s universities at the European R&I Days in Brussels on 24-26 September 2019, speaking on behalf of 800+ EUA members and fourteen partner associations. During an official ceremony, he presented the European Commission with the call “Seize our...view more
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
This briefing outlines EUA’s proposals to national and EU funders on how to make the EU...read more
In the coming academic year, virtual mobility might be the only reliable option for some...read more
Confinement due to the coronavirus is a great challenge for the international mobility of...read more
EUA President Michael Murphy assesses the challenges and opportunities brought by the coronavirus...read more
As the coronavirus pandemic impacts the global economy, funding for universities is bound to take...read more
Grants are important for researchers’ careers and only the best applicants receive them. So, what...read more
Finding a compromise on the EU’s next budget is no doubt a highly complex task. But after the lean...read more
The new European Commission must make research, education and innovation a priority as it sets out...read more
More than ever before, universities in Europe are becoming interested in fundraising. Christian...read more
Leading a university can become very difficult when finances are strapped and difficult decisions...read more
When universities come under financial fire, ideas flourish on how to be more efficient and...read more
Ireland’s universities have joined forces to transform capacity and performance in order to...read more
Thomas Estermann from the European University Association examines the university efficiency...read more
This year, EUA brings together the university community online to discuss funding in an online event scheduled on 21 and 22 September 2020, before meeting...Read more
12.30-15.00 CEST The USTREAM partners are organising the final project event for European and national policy makers and university leaders to present the...Read more
The 2018 EUA Funding Forum focused on discussion and exchange of experiences among university leaders and managers and policy-makers. Keep yourself...Read more
For the third time, universities, public authorities and partners came together to take stock of and discuss the latest funding trends, opportunities and...Read more