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.
Take part in the campaign to improve funding conditions for universities in the next generation of European funding programmes.View more
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:
Addressing Europe’s key challenges and ensuring sustainable development requires the EU to have a well-functioning budget and to revisit its investment priorities. Cooperation in research and education is a key facilitator in achieving these goals and should therefore be a top investment priority for the Union in the future. The Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP), the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and Erasmus+ (E+) are important tools in channelling such investment, make it available to beneficiaries and provide a framework for cooperation.
As the European Union prepares the next generation of EU funding programmes for the post-2020 period, budget discussions are increasingly geared towards performance, European added value, trust and efficiency. Simplification is a cornerstone in the debate as it is seen as a way to achieve these goals, lower entry barriers to programmes (thus improving participation throughout Europe), and overall to maximise the impact of EU funds.
The university community will meet in Barcelona on 18-19 October to discuss the latest trends in funding and governance. The full programme, with confirmed speakers, has now been released. The “Leaders’ panel”, which will explore ways for university leaders to “steer through the storm”,...view more
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
In 2016, EUA launched the EUA Member Consultation on the Horizon 2020 Mid-Term Review,...read more
The European University Association (EUA) appreciates the European Commission’s proposal for the...read more
On 18 and 19 April 2018, the USTREAM partners concluded the series of three peer...view more
In line with the campaign “EU funding for universities”, which gathers support from the...read more
The Public Funding Observatory 2017 report captures the very latest funding trends in Europe...read more
The Public Funding Observatory 2017 report captures the very latest funding trends in Europe...read more
The Eurasian University Union held its 2018 Higher Education Summit in Istanbul from...view more
With the debate on the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP9) in full swing, EUA has launched a set of precise recommendations for the post-2020 period. In the publication, presented this week at an EUA policy event in Brussels, the Association builds on months of...view more
The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) was created in 2015 in order "to strengthen the attractiveness of investing in Europe and in the infrastructure of a modern knowledge economy [...] by overcoming the Union's current investment difficulties and regional disparities". EFSI was...read more
The Public Funding Observatory 2016 data reveals that capital funding and investment in infrastructure for universities are decreasing. Student aid is declining and costs are being passed on to students. Meanwhile, staff layoffs and hiring freezes at universities are further consequences in some...read more
In June 2015, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) came into force. It is part of the Investment Plan for Europe, the major instrument to address the first key priority of the Juncker Commission on job creation, growth and investment. The objectives are: - to mobilise private...read more
With this statement, EUA responds to the public consultation launched by the European Commission in the spring of 2016 ahead of the review of the EU’s Financial Regulation. The Financial Regulation sets out the general rules for the spending of the EU budget and thus also governs the...read more
The 2015 edition records worrying signals from Northern Europe, a region that has so far kept up investments in higher education and research. Concerns particularly relate to Denmark and Finland, where new governments have embarked on cost-cutting programmes for the sector. The 2015 Observatory...read more
The report “Performance-based Funding of Universities in Europe” gives an overview of performance elements in public funding for universities in 28 systems across Europe and focuses in particular on funding formulae with output indicators (such as numbers of graduates) and performance contracts....read more
The DEFINE project, the findings of which underpin the present analysis, has taken funding efficiency in higher education as the main focus of its research and activities. The project notably included the mapping of the use of funding efficiency measures such as performance-based...read more
The ATHENA project aimed to contribute to the development, reform and modernisation of higher
USTREAM seeks to examine the measures that are in place in universities across Europe to
EUA’s Public Funding Observatory captures the very latest trends impacting Europe’s
Higher education institutions across Europe face today a demanding and complex financial