Following an informal exchange on this issue with EUA’s 34 National Rectors’ Conferences in January, EUA is now encouraging its members to forward any relevant information on the impact of the economic downturn.
It is clear from early feedback that there is currently a wide variety of situations across Europe and that could change in the coming weeks and months. While in some countries, it is too early to note any direct impact on universities, it is clear that some national HE sectors already fear difficult times ahead. Meanwhile, EUA has also seen that there have been proactive approaches from universities to promote their role in economic recovery. The British University sector (through Universities UK) for example has implemented a communication campaign promoting the role of universities in helping business in times of economic downturn ('Standing Together').
National governments also seem to be reacting in different ways; some have already announced or implemented budget cuts for higher education (Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland), while others have reacted by increasing the level of available funds (Denmark, France), especially in matters of infrastructure expenditure (Germany, Switzerland), as part of national stimulus packages. EUA also understands that some countries are in the process of implementing reforms, which makes it more difficult to announce new measures (Finland, Switzerland).
Finally, it is clear that is a general concern from university leaders over the degree of commitment of the business sector in their financial cooperation with universities, and a view that the economic downturn may decrease the funding coming from private sources.
The results of this monitoring will feed into the association’s new project: European Universities Diversifying Income Streams and into discussions at the EUA Convention in Prague (please see story above). Please send any relevant information on these topics to project officer Enora Pruvot.
Please download here a snapshot of the impact of economic crisis on European universities based on information collected from EUA’s National Rectors’ Conferences.