Universities in the recession

The always interesting website University World News has put together a series of reports on how different countries are treating their higher education sectors during the recession and the resulting scarcity of public money. Taking as their starting point the view expressed by a senior researcher in Berkeley – that in a recession governments should want to protect their university systems as these represent their best bet to achieve recovery – they look at a number of countries to see whether this is borne out in each case. There is no absolute pattern, but from the reports most developed western countries are cutting their higher education budgets, while emerging countries in the east are either protecting the sector or even allowing it to grow. In Europe, the exceptions appear to be Scandinavia and France.

What also emerges from the reports is that in a number of countries the current period is being used to introduce reforms to the system.

What should we conclude from this? One possible conclusion is that the approach by some governments to higher education may serve to exacerbate their economic problems as they will make economic recovery still more difficult. Another is that this is becoming an era of reform, but that the substance of reform is not the same across different countries. Many of those going for quick growth are liberalising their university systems and promoting greater autonomy, while others (perhaps including Ireland) are restricting and bureaucratising theirs.

It is not unlikely that as the dust settles from the recession that the pattern of performance in higher education across the globe will have changed, and will possibly reflect new economic realities. And unless there is a quick change of approach, this will almost certainly not have worked in Europe’s favour. Time will tell.

Explore posts in the same categories: economy, higher education

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7 Comments on “Universities in the recession”

  1. iainmacl Says:

    Tomorrow’s session of the SRHE Policy Network should provide some interesting perspectives other than the purely economic. http://www.srhe.ac.uk/event.detail.asp?eventId=99

  2. Aoife Citizen Says:

    I am looking forward to your post tomorrow giving a cautious welcome to the new minister for education and expressing cautious enthusiasm for the changes to the research budget, while expressing regret that this opportunity wasn’t taken to create a separate department for higher education. I don’t envy you your lack of anonymity on these occasions! Perhaps you have a sock puppet you use for blowing off steam, for expressing troublesome and negative views, maybe you are Vincent, maybe you’re me!

    • kevin denny Says:

      Aoife, oh you cynic. I am sure the new minister will bring the same talents to the job as she did to her previous portfolio.

      • Jilly Says:

        I love the idea that FvP may be Vincent…

        …as for the new Minister, I’ll just be glad if she doesn’t bring the same talents to her new portfolio as her predecessor did.

      • Perry Share Says:

        I did suggest in an earlier post, many moons ago, that FvP and V were alter egos. One of them rubbished the idea, but has anyone ever seen the two of them in the same place?


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