EU report: Adjust HE capacity, funding

Nieuws | de redactie
19 september 2011 | Europe grows old. Really? While universities in Germany, Spain and co. will need to accommodate fewer young people, the Netherlands and Norway continue to grow. Norway already plans with bigger capacities. Will the Netherlands follow?

For almost a decade nearly every European country saw more andmore students enrolling at universities. A recent EU reportpredicts that this picture might change fundamentally. EspeciallyCentral, Southern and Eastern European countries will see youngcohorts shrink by up to 34% until 2025.
The Netherlands face the opposite trend. More young people willpush into the higher education sector.

Need for greater capacity and funding in theNetherlands

“Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe: Funding and theSocial Dimension 2011” was published by Eurydice, an EU agencyspecialized in collecting data on higher education in Europe. Basedon data from 31 countries the report estimates that the group of youngpeople in the Netherlands will grow by 5% until 2025.

Denmark (10.9%), Luxembourg (17.8%) and Norway (9%) are alsoexpected
to feature growing populations of youngsters. In terms of studentnumbers, Turkey features even greater growth. Alone between 2000and 2008, this number increased by 149.4%. The Turkish economy grewa staggering 8.2%
in 2010 which is well in the league of booming countries likeChina. Greater wealth has now led to a HE boom in Turkey.

A greater influx of students must also be considered in the HEeducation agendas, demands Eurydice. Already now, Norway and Turkeymake plans “to increase existing higher education capacity andprovide additional funding”. Will the Netherlands implement similarpolicies?

Consolidation and life-long-learning for therest

The rest of Europe faces different worries. Even though Germanuniversities are currently flooded with applications, the future looksless bright. Germany’s young population is estimated to shrink by10.9%. Especially Eastern
European countries will see an extreme decline with Latvia(-34.2%) topping the list.

The report urges these countries to act accordingly andconsolidate their higher education sector over time. This wouldalso involve rethinking over what the average student should looklike. Life-long-learners and students from lower social economicbackground need to be targeted to ensure a sufficient supply ofqualified graduates.

Deep HE cuts in PIIGS

Due to the Euro crisis, especially PIIGS (Portugual, Ireland,Italy, Greece, Spain) already now slice their higher education budgets. “Over thepast academic year (2010/11 compared to 2009/10), the deepest cutswere made in Greece, Ireland, Iceland, (8-10% decrease), as well asin Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic and Slovakia (up to 3%decrease). [Meanwhile,…] budgets were most increased in Lithuania,Liechtenstein, Austria, France, Finland and Malta”

European leaders have set a target for 40% of 30-34 year olds tohave a higher education qualification by 2020 – an increase fromjust over 33% today. “We are failing to make the most of the talentavailable to us in Europe. Unless we change path, we will fallbehind our global competitors. We need to widen access to highereducation to the largest proportion of citizens possible,” saidAndroulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture,Multilingualism and Youth.

Continued growth in studentnumbers 2000-2008

Eurydice_Growth in student numbers 2000-2008

Source: Eurostat

Growth and decline 18-34 agegroup until 2025

Eurydice_Growth,decline 18-34 age group

Source: Eurostat

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