Stay in the loop! Subscribe to our mailing list

Governance and funding of European higher education systems

The progress of reforms of higher education governance and funding in the period 1995- 2008 has been explored in two recently published studies covering 33 European countries (EU Member States and Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey). The research has been carried out by a consortium of research bodies led by the Netherlands-based Centre for Higher Education Policy studies (CHEPS) as part of the European Commission’s ‘2006 EU Modernisation Agenda of Higher Education’.

The studies investigate the key trends and themes of higher education governance and funding both at the EU and national levels. Going beyond straight analysis, they also provide recommendations for the future. The four main areas covered in the studies are: (1) the policy changes in the governance and funding of European higher education systems between 1995 and 2008, and attendant changes in national higher education systems; (2) how the existing status of governance and funding mirrors Europe’s modernisation agenda for higher education; (3) how the governance and funding reforms effect the performance of higher education systems; and (4) conclusions based on the past as well as potential governance and funding policy themes for the future.

Among the main policy recommendations for governance is that European universities should be granted more institutional autonomy overall, with a reconsideration of the balance between autonomy and accountability, and the establishment of a European monitoring system. Cost sharing between states and students, and the stimulation of performance through a combination of competition-based funding with institutional autonomy are among the top recommendations for future funding measures. 

The governance and funding of the higher education sector has always been a critical issue. In the current period of economic uncertainty, when the sector is facing unprecedented challenges, question of governance and funding become more critical at the global, European, national and institutional levels.

European Commission

CHEPS – Study on Governance Reform

CHEPS – Study on Funding Reform