Knowledge, Diversity and Performance in European Higher Education

Knowledge, Diversity and Performance in European Higher Education

A Changing Landscape

Edited by Andrea Bonaccorsi

For the first time, data on individual European higher education institutions (rather than data aggregated at the country level) is used in order to examine a wide range of issues that are both theoretically challenging and relevant from policy-making and societal perspectives. The contributors integrate statistics on universities and colleges with other sources of information such as patents, start-up firms and bibliometric data, and employ rigorous empirical methods to address a range of key questions, including: what is the role of non-university tertiary education, such as vocational training? How important is the private sector? Are European universities internationalized? Are they efficient from the point of view of costs and educational output? Are there pure research universities in Europe? How do universities contribute to economic growth?

Chapter 3: Public and private higher education in Europe: competition, complementarity or worlds apart?

Pedro Teixeira, Vera Rocha, Ricardo Biscaia and Margarida F. Cardoso

Subjects: business and management, management and universities, economics and finance, economics of education, economics of innovation, education, economics of education, management and universities, innovation and technology, economics of innovation


Over the last half a century, European higher education has been facing persistent pressures towards expansion, which have led to the emergence of mass higher education (Scott, 1995; Trow, 2010). This has raised economic and academic challenges for higher education institutions and governments. The challenges have been even more difficult for those countries in which higher education has traditionally been dominated by public provision, leading to a significant growth of the burden on public funding (Clotfelter, 1996; Ehrenberg, 2002). This has stimulated a search for means of catering for a growing and increasingly diverse population in a more economic and efficient way (Barr and Crawford, 2005). A major response to these challenges has been to promote the adoption of market elements in higher education systems, in particular through increased privatization (Geiger, 1986; Morphew and Eckel, 2009) and the emergence of private institutions. However, this runs against the dominant view about the way higher education should be funded and provided in most European countries. In this chapter we explore the public-private mix and the patterns of diversification and specialization across the European higher education systems. The chapter starts by briefly reflecting on the historical small role of private higher education (PHE) in Europe and the way the region has participated (or not) in the recent emergence of that sector as a significant player in many systems around the world (Levy, 2006).

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