“Economic crisis used as an excuse to reduce financing of higher education”

LIVERPOOL - Students all over Europe are getting ready to fight back against higher education budget cuts. From 24 to 27 November the FINST Consultations Seminar took place in Liverpool which aimed to enable participants to look at financing of higher education from different perspectives. The students concluded that governments have been using the current financial crises across Europe as an excuse to reduce financing of higher education. 

ESU’s project 'Financing the Students' Future' (FINST) is set to address issues with financing and tuition fees that students are facing. This is done by increasing the knowledge of how different financing systems affect students and by improving the capacity of national unions of students and student representatives.

Several panels, sessions and workshops gathering stakeholders discussed the different challenges of financing of Higher education across Europe. More than 70 participants: students, researchers, institutions representative, ministries representative debated on the current and future scenarios of funding higher education. Representatives from EUA, EURASHE, Business Europe, Ministry of Poland, Ministry of Slovenia and the European Commission discussed face to face with students to define how important higher education is for individuals and society.

Project results

During the consultations seminar, a part of the project’ research results were launched such as 4 research articles on 4 main aspects of financing of higher education, perceptions of more than 35 students union on the funding systems and 4 hypothesis analysing the different funding systems across Europe .

Stakeholders at the seminar raised several challenges such as autonomy of university, social dimension, cuts in public investment, increasing tuition fees, commodification of higher education, massification, decreasing of students’ support, unemployment and so on. Students affirmed that nothing has been done in their countries to respond to those challenges and concluded that governments have been using the current financial crises across Europe as an excuse to reduce financing of higher education.  

The FinST project will now continue to analyse all the inputs of the seminar and produce future scenarios of funding mechanisms in Europe and try to answer to the different questions that all stakeholders have so far.

Students are set to fight back

What the mission and vision of higher education?  The next step for the FinST research team will be to answer this question and provide ESU member unions with the right information to fight back to get more money pumped into higher education. More information about FINST and its past events and activities can be read here: http://www.esu-online.org/projects/current/finst/