European Universities Confront a New Financial Reality - Global - the Chronicle of Higher Education
European universities need to come to terms with the fact that they can no longer expect generous government financing, an irreversible trend exacerbated by the global financial crisis. That was the message delivered at a conference here this week that drew university leaders, European and national policy makers, private investors, and higher-education experts from around Europe.
Organized by the European University Association, the meeting was focused specifically on shifts in university financing, and how to adapt to the changing economic climate. The association’s unit for governance, autonomy, and finance has been monitoring the impact of the crisis on university systems since 2008 and the data it has gathered are now revealing distinct trends, says Thomas Estermann, head of the unit. “Before what we were seeing was very diverse, but now we can see that there are a couple countries that are still investing and keeping up funding and a large group that have cut quite drastically, so extreme points are coming out.”
European universities remain overwhelmingly reliant on public money for most of their financing, and cuts in public spending have meant that higher-education budgets have been slashed in many countries. Twelve countries—including Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain—have suffered spending cuts to higher education of more than 10 percent.