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Austerity Cuts for Higher Ed. in Europe

Date: 02/09/2012

Times Higher Education

Long, cold financial winter lies ahead for Europe’s academy
By Jack Grove

Austerity’s icy grip may cause permanent damage to sectors in Spain, Italy and Ireland.

More economic gloom has been forecast for 2012, with the eurozone’s debt troubles set to deepen.

So what does the constant drip of bad news items on bailouts, double-dip recessions and austerity cuts mean for higher education in Europe?

The outlook, unsurprisingly, is fairly grim.

Almost all European Union countries have committed to reducing their expenditure on universities, while many research budgets have been slashed as Brussels tightens fiscal restraints on debt-laden countries.

The latest round of public sector cuts in Italy, the Republic of Ireland and Spain, announced in December, illustrates the problems faced by the higher education sectors in the countries hit hardest by austerity measures.

In Spain, the new conservative government led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy outlined the biggest public spending cuts in the country’s history – €8.9 billion (£7.4 billion) announced on 30 December, with a total of €16.5 billion to be slashed this year.

While the force of the blow to higher education is not yet known, €485 million will be taken from education overall, and assistance to local authorities – key supporters of universities – will be reduced by just over €1 billion.

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