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New report reveals uneven university autonomy in Europe

EUA has released the third edition of its University Autonomy in Europe report

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There is no uniform trend towards university autonomy in Europe, according to a report released by the European University Association (EUA) assessing the capacity of universities to decide on issues as diverse as tuition fees, governance structures, recruitments and salaries or language of instruction and student numbers.

The report reveals that while some countries have achieved a relatively high degree of university autonomy in all or most of the four dimensions considered, there is no unique model to foster autonomy. Countries scoring high in at least three dimensions include models as diverse as that of Finland, Luxembourg, Estonia or the UK.

According to the report, political and economic contexts can impact autonomy in different ways, beyond financial matters.

“In a tense political international political environment, promoting university autonomy as a core principle continues to be highly relevant and important, as attempts to limit or undermine it can take many forms,” says Rolf Tarrach, EUA President.

Also, public authorities are found to exert stronger steering through funding mechanisms, while concentration processes, like mergers, raise new questions for university autonomy.

“We witness with great concerns the increasing tendency of national governments to interfere in university autonomy and academic freedom,” says Lesley Wilson, EUA Secretary General.

The EUA began collecting data on university autonomy in 2007, aiming to build a cross-country database to analyse organisational, financial, staffing and academic autonomy of European universities.

 

Evolution of organisational autonomy of European universities

 

Evolution of academic autonomy of European universities

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Related subjects: Universities, Academic freedom

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