01.03.2011
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“Students should not suffer from financial problems of universities”

BRUSSELS – The European Students’ Union (ESU) is deeply concerned about the fact that students are the biggest supplement to public funds as an alternative source of funding. According to ESU, it should not be students that ensure the financial sustainability of universities.

In reaction to a report of the European University Association (EUA) on the financial sustainability of Europe’s universities, launched on 22 February in Brussels ESU’s Chairperson, Bert Vandenkendelaere, said: “When income from public funding decreases, universities will be more heavily depend on income from other sources which makes it likely that universities will go for “an easy way out” by increasing tuition fees.”

He continued: “This will certainly limit access to higher education. ESU thinks that students should not be the ones to pay for the long-term financial sustainability of universities.” The EUA report, the result of a two-year EC-supported project, says that as the numbers of university students continues to rise across Europe, and the economic downturn has caused cuts in public funding in many countries, higher education systems are faced with the ‘challenge’ of creating sustainable funding models to secure the future of university education. One of the outcomes of the study is that the financial contributions from students (tuition fees) vary widely in Europe but on average contribute 9% to university incomes. With this it is the biggest additional source of income for universities that is non-public.
Closing the funding gap
In addition, ESU thinks that the first step in trying to close the funding gap is an analysis of the expenditure of current resources, followed by an attempt to improve the manner in which such expenditure is made, and thus ensure the better use of existing funds. Vandenkendelaere: “Structures and mechanisms of internal allocation of resources should be constantly checked and revised where necessary, university governance itself needs to become much more open and transparent in this regard.”

“Better use of real estate owned by the higher education institutions, research and teaching facilities, classrooms and staff should be among the measures leading to greater effectiveness in the expenditure of financial resources without cutting down on quality or access,” continued Vandenkendelaere. ESU furthermore emphasises that there should be measures put in place to prevent irrational spending of resources on outdated, overloaded and rigid curricula and scarcely motivated teaching staff.

For more information, please contact:
Bert Vandenkendelaere, Chairperson ESU: +32473669892 / bert@esu-online.org or
Marianne Slegers, Communications Manager ESU: +32473669894 / marianne@esu-online.org

The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 45 national unions of students from 38 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. For more information, please visit www.esu-online.org.

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