SHIFT Project: Mapping The Financing Dynamics Of Higher Education Students

The economic and financial crisis is forcing all EU Member States to drastically reduce spending and investment in education. The EU recognises that “the issue is not about spending more or less, but about spending more intelligently” and calls for “innovative financial instruments to focus on addressing identifiable market failures, taking into account the needs of final beneficiaries” EU Budget Review, Oct. 2012 COM700.

Public funding accounts for 85% of all higher education (HE) funding (Eurydice). The EACEA in “Modernisation of HE in EU: Funding and Social Dimension” clearly states that “the economic downturn led to a decrease in public funding, while demand for HE increases” and that students are the ones paying the price: the “financial burden is increasingly being shifted to students”.

The above reinforces the challenge to develop new mechanisms to empower students to be able to afford HE: EU papers are clear about the specific need for innovative and different avenues to finance HE students, so that university is not limited to a few who “can afford it” but is a universally recognised possibility for all Europeans. The DG EAC Report “Study On Student Lending” clearly states that “[m]any national loan schemes are inadequate, apart from a few exceptions (UK, Sweden, Netherlands). Student loans are not available in all EU countries: where they exist, they are limited in scope, number and size.

Against this background, this SHIFT report aims to form a detailed picture of the HE system in Europe, highlighting the key goals and policies pursued by Member States and placing a special focus on student fees, financial support and the level of financial literacy within the European Union. The primary target set in the renewed EU agenda is to ensure that students have the necessary material conditions to study and fulfil their potential.     


Read Executive Summary


Project's final Report will be available soon.