Slashing HE budgets fatal

Nieuws | de redactie
16 september 2011 | The EU Commission wants European governments to widen access to higher education. Additional funding and smart policies are crucial to this. According to a new Eurydice report the Netherlands is one of the few countries to experience an increase in students until 2025.

The EU agency Eurydice published a report today outlining how cuts in highereducation budgets and increased tuition fees had a negative impacton access to universities. In “Modernisation of higher education inEurope: Funding and the Social Dimension 2011”, Eurydiceaccumulated and analyzed comparative data from 31 Europeancountries.

The Netherlands is pointed out positively in the report forspending an above EU average GDP share on higher education.Studiefinanciering and other student support related measures takea comparatively high share of 26.8% of these expenditures.

Deep HE cuts in PIIGS

The report highlights changes in higher education spending inresponse to the crisis. Over the past academic year (2010/11compared to 2009/10) budgets were most increased in Lithuania,Liechtenstein, Austria, France, Finland and Malta, while thedeepest cuts were made in Greece, Ireland, Iceland, (8-10%decrease), as well as in Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic andSlovakia (up to 3% decrease).

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.

East-West divide

As the report states, there seems to be an East-West divideregarding routes to higher education for non-traditional candidatessuch as adult learners and people entering university on the basisof skills gained in the workplace rather than schoolqualifications.

Europe urgently needs to address the social dimension of highereducation more forcefully and coherently, particularly in view ofthe economic downturn. Countries need to open up opportunities formore people to benefit from higher education, matching thisobjective with coherent measures, funding and monitoring toevaluate their impact.

Need for greater capacity and funding in theNetherlands

The report also estimates that the group of young people in theNetherlands will grow by 5% until 2025. Denmark (10.9%),Luxembourg (17.8%) and Norway (9%) are also expected tofeature growing populations of youngsters.

In terms of student numbers, Turkey features even greatergrowth. Alone between 2000 and 2008, this number increased by149.4%. The Turkish economy grew a staggering 8.2% in 2010which is well in the league of booming countries like China.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?

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