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Analyse & Performance
 
Policies

Wissenschaftliche Publikation

ETER Analytical Report: The regional structure of European Higher Education

Publikation aus Policies

Andrea Bonaccorsi (University of Pisa), Benedetto Lepori (Università della Svizzera italiana), with the support of Daniel Wagner-Schuster, Marija Breitfuss-Loidl

, 2/2020

Abstract:

Expanding the geographical coverage of higher education is an important means to achieve two key objectives of the European Union Agenda for Higher Education. On the one hand, a broader geographical cover-age lowers costs and barriers for student’s access to higher education, particularly for pupils from lower social classes that are more penalized by the need to move to another region. On the other hand, higher education is an essential component of the formation of human capital, which is largely recognized as a major determinant of productivity and growth.

 

In this respect, ETER can be used to examine the contribution of different types of Higher Education Institutions and of satellite campuses to the regional distribution of higher education. Results show that, in 2016, 59% of the NUTS 3 European regions, comprising 79% of the population and 75% of the surface of Europe, hosted at least one main seat of a Higher Education Institution.  Additionally, more than 250 NUTS 3 regions (out of 1,700), containing about 15% of the EU population, are served only by satellite campuses, showing how their creation is a powerful tool to improve accessibility to higher education. Non-university institutions also significantly raise the share of European regions offering higher education and substantially increase the density and diversity of supply in densely populated areas. This process took momentum from the 1970s onward, when the diffusion process of universities started to slow down. At the same time, the research function of higher education, as approximated by the number of PhD students, remains highly concentrated in large cities.

 

This  report  therefore  shows  how  public  policies  mobilized  different  strategies  to  increase  accessibility  of  higher  education  at  the  regional  level,  while  keeping  resources  and  research  activities  concentrated  in the metropolitan areas. First, the creation of regional universities outside the main cities, then the establishment  (or  consolidation)  of  Universities  of  Applied  Sciences,  as  regional  hubs  for  education  and,  increasingly, societal and economic outreach. Finally, the establishment of satellite campuses as a way to provide education at the regional level, while sharing human resources and infrastructures over the whole institution.

 

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