Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Continental Drift: Recovery or Slump?

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Continental Drift: Recovery or Slump?

Article excerpt

Post-crash austerity measures have buffeted university funding across Europe in the past six years. Jack Grove looks at how some countries are faring on state funding, according to a recent European University Association report

UK

MFunding down 35% (England only)

LStudent numbers up 9% to 1.87 million (up to 2012-13)

Extra income from higher tuition fees has largely offset cuts made since 2012 to the teaching grant, the EUA says. It will mean the teaching grant will represent just 17 per cent of overall higher education funding in 2015-16, down from 64 per cent in 2011.

Universities have also had less central funding for infrastructure, though the research budget has been frozen in cash terms.

According to the Higher Education Funding Council for England, overall income for university teaching will rise from £13 billion in 2010-11 to almost £15 billion in 2014-15, including fees from overseas students, student loans and other sources.

Republic of Ireland

MFunding down 35%

LStudent numbers up 19% to 185,000

Huge cuts to all parts of public spending have been made since 2010, when Ireland accepted an [euro]85 billion (£67.5 billion) eurozone bailout to stave off financial ruin.

Higher education was hit hard. Modest increases in annual tuition fees - which rose by [euro]250 a year from 2011 and will reach [euro]3,000 in 2015-16 - have not compensated.

University leaders have warned that cuts are leading to bigger class sizes, potentially harming Ireland's ability to attract international students. A report on funding reforms is due by the end of 2015.

Per-student funding fell by 16 per cent in 2013-14 alone after teaching funding was cut by 10 per cent and student numbers rose by 1.6 per cent, the Irish Universities' Association said.

Spain

MFunding down 15%

LStudent numbers up 5% to 1.3 million

Between 2008 and 2012 Spain's football team won two European titles and a World Cup; but it was a different story for its university system. Just one of its institutions features in THE's World University Rankings top 200. In addition, funding fell by 15 per cent from 2008 to 2014, despite rising investment up to 2011, the EUA says.

That fall in income was partially offset by rises in tuition fees, which vary between [euro]500 and [euro]1,120 a year. Student support has been cut, sparking protests earlier this year.

Austerity has led to restrictions on staff recruitment imposed at national level, while academics have had pay cuts of about 20 per cent.

Netherlands

MFunding down 0.6%

LStudent numbers up 13% to 248,000

The Netherlands has punched above its weight for many years in the university stakes. Eleven of its 13 research universities were inside the top 200 of last year's THE World University Rankings.

That achievement comes without large amounts of investment over the past six years. Since 2008, funding has stayed relatively stable in real terms.

However, pressures on Dutch higher education are intensifying, with the student population rising by 3.5 per cent in 2013-14 alone, while teaching funds stayed constant, the EUA says.

Dutch universities have also been told they cannot increase tuition fees, which are about [euro]1,900 a year for home/European Union undergraduates.

From 2015, students will receive loans instead of maintenance grants for living costs, freeing up about [euro]1 billion in funds to be reinvested in the sector. …

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