LogoEUA launches “Autonomy Scorecard”: new report compares and benchmarks levels of university autonomy in 26 European countries
The European University Association has today (15 November) launched a major new report which compares university autonomy across 26 European countries. In addition to an in-depth analysis of the current state of institutional autonomy in Europe, the study includes four scorecards which rank and rate higher education systems in four autonomy areas: organisational, financial, staffing and academic autonomy.
The new EUA “Autonomy Scorecard” will be launched today (15 November) at a stakeholder event in Brussels. In each scorecard (published as a table), national or federal state systems are ranked according to a percentage score, with 0% being the lowest and 100% the highest possible level of autonomy in a given area. The system with the highest percentage is considered to grant the most autonomy to universities in a specific dimension. In each scorecard, each system has also been assigned to one of four groups – high, medium high, medium low and low – depending on their score. The report, “University Autonomy in Europe II-The Scorecard”, can be downloaded here.
La France dans le rapport: dernière position pour l'
Academic autonomy et le Staffing autonomy
3.4 Academic autonomy
France and Greece are included in the “low” group, which includes countries scoring below 41%. First, universities in both systems lack flexibility in setting overall student numbers: in Greece, they are negotiated with the government, while France uses a system of free admission. Heavy constraints also relate to the introduction of degree programmes: all must be submitted to prior accreditation. Quality assurance processes and providers are prescribed, and institutions’ ability to choose the language of instruction is curtailed in both systems: all Bachelor and a set proportion of Master’s programmes must be taught in the national languages... In France, only an external authority is entitled to dismiss the executive leader. p.54
In Cyprus, France and Iceland, they are appointed partly by the university, partly by an outside body. Finally, in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Sweden, the ministry selects external members upon proposal by the institution. p.55
The third (“medium low”) cluster, which includes systems scoring between 41% and 60%, consists of Austria, Brandenburg, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, North Rhine-Westphalia, Poland, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. p.57
In Austria, Finland, France, Iceland, North Rhine-Westphalia and Spain, universities may keep and spend their surplus freely... The situation is markedly different for bottom-tier systems, which include Brandenburg, the Czech Republic, France, Iceland and Norway. p.58
3.3 Staffing autonomy
The third (“medium low”) cluster
, which includes systems scoring between 41% and 60%, consists of Brandenburg, Cyprus, France, Italy, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey. Institutional independence in these systems is strongly curtailed. In France, promotions are governed by annual quotas, while Italy carries out a national competition... Both France and Spain practice a system of preselection: in Spain, candidates for academic and administrative posts must be personally accredited by the national accreditation agency before being hired by universities. French institutions can only recruit academic staff out of a national list drawn up by peers who were partly nominated by the ministry. The number of academic posts is limited by an external authority in France and Turkey. An external authority confirms some academic staff appointments in Slovakia, and even carries out the recruitment (of senior administrators) in France. p.61
3.4 Academic autonomy
France
and Greece are included in the “low” group, which includes countries scoring below 41%. First, universities in both systems lack flexibility in setting overall student numbers: in Greece, they are negotiated with the government, while France uses a system of free admission. Heavy constraints also relate to the introduction of degree programmes: all must be submitted to prior accreditation. Quality assurance processes and providers are prescribed, and institutions’ ability to choose the language of instruction is curtailed in both systems: all Bachelor and a set proportion of Master’s programmes must be taught in the national languages. p.64
Autres passages
In France and Turkey, dismissal procedures are laid down in the law and conducted by an external authority. p.23
A board- or council-type body exists in Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal and Sweden. (Higher education institutions in Brandenburg in fact share a common board, which provides strategic advice to the university leadership and puts forward candidates for the university presidency). p.26
External members of governing bodies are usually fully integrated into the decision-making process. There are only some restrictions in this respect: in France, for instance, external members cannot participate in the election of the rector. In dual systems, external members are typically included in the board-type or council-type body. Of the unitary systems with a senate-type governing body, only Estonia and Ireland include external members. p.27
In France, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia and Sweden, the block grant is divided into broad categories, such as teaching and research (Iceland, Sweden), teaching, research and infrastructure (Latvia, Lithuania), salaries and operational costs (Portugal), or investments, salaries and operational costs (France). As a rule, universities are unable to move funds between these categories. In France, funds can be transferred into operations and investments, but not into salaries; in Iceland, shifting funds is possible in theory, but rarely done in practice... Universities in the following 15 systems are entirely
free to keep a surplus on their public funding: Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Hesse, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, North Rhine-Westphalia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. p.31
In Cyprus, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Spain, institutions can borrow money with the approval of an external authority, while in Sweden and Brandenburg they can only use specific, stateowned banks. In Brandenburg, Ireland, Italy, North Rhine-Westphalia and Slovakia, the law prescribes that universities may only borrow up to a maximum percentage. p.32
Feature 5 - Legal vs. actual ownership of university buildings (Denmark, Austria & France)
Universities’ legal or formal ability to own buildings, and the extent to which they actually do so, may diverge widely. Universities in Austria and Denmark, for instance, are theoretically able to own real estate. However, in both countries, universities actually own only a minority of the buildings they occupy... French universities can only own their buildings if they have the technical competencies and resources to do so. Following the implementation of the autonomy reform in 2007, universities are now able to request the ‘dévolution’, i.e. the handing over of all university buildings owned by the state to the institution. Universities have to fulfil certain conditions to qualify for this scheme, which was voluntarily piloted by three universities in 2011. However, despite obtaining full ownership of their real estate, universities still need to secure the approval of a state authority to sell their assets. p.33-34
Finally, universities in some systems have at least formally increased their financial autonomy by gaining ownership of the buildings they occupy. In France, a new university law is gradually giving universities the option of acquiring their buildings. In 2011, three universities, which fulfilled the necessary technical requirements, were granted ownership of their buildings in a pilot project. p.37
In France, Greece and Turkey, the number of posts for some or all senior academic staff is regulated by an external authority. In Turkey, for instance, the council for higher education allocates a specific number of vacancies to universities, which may then carry out the recruitment process on their own. p.39
Feature 6 - Recruitment practices for senior academic staff (Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden, France & Italy)
Although there is of course some variation with regard to recruitment practices for senior academic personnel, most systems follow fairly similar procedures. It is common practice to specify selection criteria at faculty level and to set up a selection committee to evaluate candidates. The successful applicant is subsequently appointed at faculty level or, alternatively, by a decision-making body at university level. The selection committee either recommends one candidate or provides the decision-making body with a shortlist of preferred candidates in order of priority... In France, academic staff is recruited from a list of candidates drawn up by a national committee of academic peers. This committee, whose membership is partly decided by the academics themselves and partly nominated by the ministry, decides on applications of scientists who wish to be included in the list. Universities then fill open positions with candidates from this list. Following the autonomy reform, universities have also been given the opportunity to hire non-permanent, non-civil servant staff freely, although these represent only a minority of university personnel. P.39-40
In France, the ability to recruit administrative staff varies by category. The recruitment of personnel working in libraries and central administration is carried out by an external authority in a national competition. On the other hand, universities are free to recruit heads of administration and other staff categories, such as ‘ingénieurs de recherche’. p.40
Salary bands are prescribed for all or some staff in France, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland and Turkey... In Denmark, France, Ireland, Poland and Turkey, salary bands are fixed by an external authority. p.41
Dismissal is strictly regulated for all academic and administrative staff in France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Norway and Slovakia. In Brandenburg, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia, academic and administrative staff members are either civil servants or public sector employees and therefore enjoy special protection from dismissal. p.42
In France, promotion quotas are imposed by the state. For senior academic staff, half of all promotions granted are determined at the national level. The same group of academic peers that sets up the national recruitment list decides on these. The remaining promotions are allocated to individual institutions, which are then free to decide whom they wish to promote. For senior administrative staff, promotions are not usually decided by the universities, but rather by other administrative staff who have been elected into a committee. For noncivil servant staff, promotions are freely decided by the university. However, these cases currently make up only a minority. p.43
Even in free admission systems, such as France, the Netherlands or Switzerland, a numerus clausus may apply for these (and similar) fields. In the case of France, the principle of free admissions only applies to first-cycle students in their first year of study. p.45
In France, the Netherlands and Spain, programmes must be accredited in order to receive public funding. In the Netherlands, privately funded study programmes are also commonly submitted to voluntary accreditation, since this is seen as a quality label. p.48
By contrast, in some systems, the requirements for programmes beyond Bachelor level, particularly doctoral ones, are more stringent. In France and Spain, all doctoral programmes must be accredited before introduction, whereas at Bachelor and Master’s level, accreditation is only necessary if programmes are to be publicly funded... In the remaining seven countries, some restrictions may apply to all or some degree levels. In Cyprus, France and Greece, universities may only offer undergraduate degrees in the national language. There is some more flexibility regarding Master’s programmes: Greece and France may offer certain Master’s programmes in other languages, while Cyprus may use other languages as long as the courses in question are also available in Greek. p.49
Annex 1 – Contributors to the study: Alain Abécassis, Secretary General & Harald Schraeder, Policy Adviser, Conférence des Présidents d’Université (CPU).
The report, “University Autonomy in Europe II-The Scorecard”, can be downloaded here.