Brussels, 23 June 2014
Student support crucial for offsetting impact of university tuition fees, says report
When balanced with student support, increased tuition fees do not have an overall negative impact on enrolments in higher education, even among students from lower socio-economic groups, unless the magnitude of change is exceptional. However increases in fees can result in falling enrolments among older students, according to an international study released by the European Commission today. The report underlines that grants and/or loans are crucial for offsetting negative consequences of fees or fee rises on university enrolments, particularly from vulnerable groups.
The Commission-funded study, carried out by independent researchers, analysed the impact of changes in student fees in nine countries with different models of funding over the past 15 years (Austria, Canada, UK-England, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal and South Korea).
Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said "Student fees are a reality for a large proportion of students in Europe – and a controversial issue. This study questions some common assumptions and provides valuable evidence for the on-going debate in the EU on how best to fund higher education to ensure institutions provide the highest quality of education to increasing numbers of students, while guaranteeing fair access."
The key findings of the study are:
The study - 'Do changes in cost-sharing have an impact on the behaviour of students and higher education institutions?' - was carried out for the European Commission by Hanover-based Deutsches Zentrum für Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsforschung (DZHW) and Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA) in Toronto, Canada. The study used quantitative data and qualitative evidence to examine the impact of changes in tuition fee policies on higher education applicants, students and institutions. In each case, the research team used the available evidence to test common theories about the impact of tuition fees.
The study results are presented in a main report, with executive summaries in English, French and German and in nine in-depth national reports, which cover many aspects of cost-sharing in the respective higher education systems.
The study is part of the follow-up to the agenda for the modernisation of Europe's higher education systems, adopted by the Commission in September 2011. It does not advocate a particular system of funding or cost-sharing in higher education. In Europe there is a diversity of funding systems; it is for Member States to decide which is the most appropriate for them.
For more information
European Commission: Education and training
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