The European University Association (EUA) recently released its third comparative report on the topic of university autonomy – University Autonomy in Europe III – marking ten years since it began to collect data in this area, eight years since the release of University Autonomy I, and five years of mapping related developments. The third comparative study, comprising also the 2017 version of the Autonomy Scorecard, supplements the 29 autonomy country profiles that were published in April 2017.
The 2017 Autonomy Scorecard builds on the initial Scorecard, launched in 2011, and provides a comparative analysis on the state of play of university autonomy in 29 higher education systems in Europe. The report ranks the participating systems along four dimensions of autonomy
1. organisational autonomy (academic and administrative structures, leadership and governance),
2. financial autonomy (ability to raise funds, own buildings, borrow money and set tuition fees),
3. staffing autonomy (ability to recruit independently, promote and develop academic and non-academic staff), and
4. academic autonomy (including study fields, student numbers, student selection, as well as the structure and content of degrees),
while depicting trends for each area, highlighting advancements, as well as declines.
The data collection was carried out following the 2011 Scorecard methodology, i.e. via questionnaires and interviews, as well as several validation rounds with national rectors’ conferences. The 29 higher education systems are ranked, on the basis of weighted scores, into four autonomy clusters, in order to enable a more detailed comparison and analysis of the results per autonomy dimension
• High cluster: 100% - 81%
• Medium high cluster: 80% - 61%
• Medium low cluster: 60% - 41%
• Low cluster: 40% and under.
The following systems were ranked in the high cluster of each of the four autonomy dimensions
• organisational autonomy – 6 systems: United Kingdom (100%), Denmark (94%), Finland (93%), French-speaking community of Belgium (90%), Estonia (88%) and Lithuania (88%).
• financial autonomy – 3 systems: Luxembourg (91%), Latvia (90%) and United Kingdom (89%).
• staffing autonomy – 10 systems: Estonia (100%), Sweden (97%), United Kingdom (96%), Switzerland (95%), Luxembourg (94%), Finland (92%), Latvia (89%), Denmark (86%), Poland (84%) and Lithuania (83%).
• academic autonomy – 9 systems: Estonia (98%), Finland (90%), Ireland (89%), Luxembourg (89%), United Kingdom (89%), Hesse (DE) (88%), North Rhine Westphalia (DE) (88%), Brandenburg (DE) (87%) and Norway (83%).
Countries scoring high in at least three dimensions include models as diverse as those in Finland, Luxembourg, Estonia or the UK (England). At the same time, there are also countries that registered declining levels of autonomy. Importantly, the Scorecard also highlights that there is no unique model to foster autonomy.
While the topic of university autonomy clearly remains a highly-relevant one in Europe and beyond, the report shows that there is no general trend towards increased university autonomy in Europe
. Rather, the analysis reveals the complexity of autonomy developments, which are rooted in the characteristics and structure of each higher education system and linked to other contextual aspects such as the availability of resources.
– University Autonomy in Europe III (Country profiles)
– University Autonomy in Europe III (The Scorecard 2017 – comparative report)