Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Autonomy and Universities

It is worth rereading this VOX summary of the influential Bruegel report on the reform of European universities. They basically said that the reason that European universities are so far behind the US is that they have too little funding and too much state interference in process rather than evaluation of outcomes.

1.European countries should invest more in their university systems. On average, EU25 members spend 1.3% of their GDP on higher education, against 3.3% in the US. European countries should increase funding for higher education by at least 1 percentage point over the next ten years. It remains an open question how the burden of this increase is to be shared between public budgets and private funding, including tuition fees.

2.For this effort to pay off, European universities should become more autonomous, in particular with regard to budgets, and also in hiring and remuneration. What matters for good performance is both money and good governance. The two are complementary; increasing university budget has more impact with good governance and improving governance has more impact with higher budgets. We are aware, however, that greater autonomy can be perverse and that it must be accompanied by greater performance evaluation.

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