Universities, their fundings, and students in Europe

Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti
 Students' protests in London

The biggest student demonstration since 2010 took place on this 19th November in Parliament Square.

The protest was organised by The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, The Young Greens, and The Students Assembly Against Austerity.

The case behind the event is not dissimilar to the reason that caused the 2010 demonstration: further cuts to the state expenditure for the education system, with a consequent raise of the students’ fees.

Four years ago, the young protesters occupied the Tory’s office at Millbank, as a reaction to the austerity measures adopted by the new Conservative government.

The debate regarding fees for the higher education became hot in 2009.
John Browne, former ex-chief executive of the British Petroleum (energy company), was commissioned to report about the universities’ funding.
During October 2010, the Browne Review was published. There were included some proposals for the removal of the fees’ cap. However, the government raised the universities’ allowed charge to £9,000 per year, that was nearly three times the limit in 2011/12 - £3,375.

Moreover, just in 2011-2012, the UK universitiesbrought to the national economy £73 billion, that is nearly 2.8% of the British GDP – Gross Domestic Product.

According to 2013’s data, the country counts overall 162 institutions for the high education.
Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti

Fundings in Europe

The state funding for the university seems to be a problem spread over the European continent.

Last year – 2013 – the Education Audiovisional andCulture Executive Agency (EACEA) published the National Sheets on Education Budgets in Europe, which provides dataabout the national expenditures for this sector.

As it is stated in the first pages, in general the education budget for 2013 has slightly increased (1%), apart from five countries – in which group there is also the United Kingdom – where the same percentage has been recorded in negative.

Other countries


In Italy, during October, the government allocated 150 million for the Fund for regular financing (Fondo di finanziamento ordinario), that is the state funding for the universities.

According to the Istat data - updated to the academic year 2007/2008 - there are eighty-seven universities in the country, among which sixty are public institutions, and twenty-seven are private.
The difference, obviously, is made by the main source of funding.

The private universities had a higher fee that students have to pay. These institutions receive also a state fund, but it is lower in comparison with the public sector.

Let’s have an example. Luiss is probably the most known private university in Rome, because it is mainly supported by Confindustria - General Confederation of Italian Industry. That means that it receives funds from the chamber of commerce, from the students’ fees and in a small part from the state.


In Germany, the universities are mainly funded by the state.
The institutions receive money from the government, in relation to the number of students and the promotion of research. There are additional budgets that can be earned for support the excellences in the country.

The German people can count over 380 universities in their territory, according to the official records.


In Spain, there are seventy-six universities.
Twenty-four of them are private institutions, whereas other seven are associated with the Catholic Church.
All the other are completely funded by the state.

The source of dissatisfaction

Discontent often rises from the comparison made between out situations and the others’ conditions.

Since I moved in the British capital city, I couldn’t avoid to confront different aspects of living here and living in Rome, and, by this comparison, an Italian person frequently feels unhappy for his home condition.

 Moreover, disagreement surges in case of too radical steers. And it always happens when money are involved.

The organisers said that 10,000 students joined the 19th November protest.
Such demonstration hits the viewer for the range of the event.

The dialogue and an attempt analysis of the situation, however, are the best way to solution.