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Study examines funding schemes for “university excellence” across Europe

Funding schemes which reward ”excellence” at European universities can enhance the profile of universities and help them recruit the most talented staff, a study has concluded.

A report published by the European University Association (EUA) analyses public funding schemes in operation across a range of European nations which aim to foster excellence in university sectors.

The report, Funding for Excellence, notes that excellence schemes generally provide additional funding to universities on top of the public funding they already receive.

The schemes are intended to allow universities to boost their international visibility or competitiveness, improve research and teaching quality, and enhance funding efficiency.

The report notes that large scale initiatives - such as those in place in Germany, France and Spain – can help to boost participating universities’ institutional profile relative to other universities.

The EUA says: “Institutions participating in such schemes can benefit for example from enhanced visibility and recruitment of high quality staff, contributing to raising the quality of research. The report also shows the need to preserve an adequate balance between research and education and the different academic disciplines.”

EUA also urges both funding bodies and universities to establish “exit strategies” to ensure the outcomes of the excellence schemes are sustained once the funding comes to an end – for instance, by integrating new support into the regular public funding received by the university.

The report is the first of three which will outline the key findings of the DEFINE project -  a two-and-a-half year initiative co-funded by the European Commission involving several higher education institutions in Europe including the University of Oxford. The project concludes in the Spring, and aims to analyse the impact of funding efficiency measures on universities.

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