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EUA Newsletter 11   5 June 2015

EFSI Agreement is a ‘mixed bag’ for Universities and Research

On 29 May the European institutions announced that they reached an agreement on the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) in the last round of the so-called “trilogue” discussions. The new financial instrument, which aims to boost growth and jobs in the EU, will be backed by a guarantee partly financed from the EU budget.

The European Commission proposal originally planned a €2.7 billion cut to the Horizon 2020 programme. A deal was made to moderate cuts to Horizon 2020, down to €2.2 billion. The difference will be financed from unused margins available in the EU’s annual budgets of 2014 and 2015. 

For the past six months, EUA has consistently advocated the protection of Horizon 2020 from cuts that would penalise Europe’s universities. Indeed, while EFSI is also promoted as an instrument fostering research and innovation, it is unlikely that universities directly benefit from it. In most European countries, they are unable to make use of a financial tool offering loans rather than grants (see EUA’s policy brief on EFSI).

EUA therefore regrets that Horizon 2020 emerges from the deal with €2.2 billion less than was originally agreed in the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework. EUA is particularly concerned by the signal that this development sends to public authorities in Europe with regard to the importance of funding university research. Investing for the future is paramount and cannot be done without involving universities. Investing in higher education and research requires actual financial transfers rather than financial instruments.

On the other hand, EUA notes with relief that the compromise now reached restores the funding levels for fundamental research, with the European Research Council, Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions as well as pillar 4 “Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation” completely protected from cuts. Protecting fundamental research has been at the core of EUA’s demands and of high importance for EUA’s membership. The Association therefore welcomes the efforts of the European Parliament to defend this stance in the negotiation. 

The €2.2 billion cut will therefore be spread over other Horizon 2020 actions but the European Commission has yet to announce how this will be conducted, whether in proportion to the distribution it originally proposed (with heavy cuts notably to research collaboration projects) or according to a different method.

EUA now calls on EU Member States to live up to their commitment to limit the impact of these cuts as far as possible during each annual budgetary procedure. This will be essential to mitigate the wrong signal sent so far to Europe’s research community.

In this regard, the proposal for the 2016 budget that was recently published by the European Commission is of particular importance. The deal on EFSI should affect the provisional allocation and a new draft budget is expected to take these changes into account.  

The compromise on EFSI still has to be formally adopted by the Council of Ministers on 19 June and will be voted on in the European Parliament on 24 June.
Policy and Projects News

EUA launches simultaneous updates of its Autonomy Scorecard and Public Funding Observatory 

In order to capture the latest evolutions in European university governance and public funding, this week EUA is publishing its updates of the Autonomy Scorecard and the 2015 Public Funding Observatory. EUA is working with the National Rectors’ Conferences to update the corresponding questionnaires in more than thirty higher education systems in Europe. 

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EUA’s contribution to the ex-post evaluation of FP7

EUA has recently submitted a contribution to the European Commission’s (EC) public consultation on the ex-post evaluation of the 7th Framework Programme (FP7), the EU Research and Innovation funding programme for 2007-2013. The aim of the EC consultation was to provide the High-Level Group responsible for conducting the ex-post evaluation of FP7 with a diversified and comprehensive range of views about the functioning, achievements and impacts of FP7. 

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Registrations for the IEP open until 3 July

The registration period for the 2015-2016 round of EUA’s Institutional Evaluation Programme (IEP) is open until 3 July 2015. IEP offers higher education institutions the opportunity to take part in a comprehensive, improvement-oriented institutional evaluation conducted by a team of experienced higher education leaders. 

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EUA attends the fourth Global Research Council Annual Meeting

EUA was invited as an observer to the fourth Annual Meeting of the Global Research Council (GRC), which took place in Tokyo, Japan. This year’s meeting was co-hosted by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa.

EUA Annual Report 2014 available online

EUA’s Annual Report 2014 is now available on the EUA website. The report summarises the different activities carried out by EUA on behalf of and in support of its members last year across a number of thematic areas including: learning and teaching; research and innovation; quality management; governance, autonomy and funding; and internationalisation. 
Events News

EUA Council for Doctoral Education hosts global event

27 university leaders in doctoral education from 5 continents met at the University of Iceland on 21-22 May to discuss talent development and doctoral education at the 3rd Strategic Global Forum on Doctoral Education.

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EMOOCs 2015 Stakeholder Summit: Making sense of MOOCs 

Around 250 MOOC enthusiasts gathered in Mons, European Capital of Culture, Belgium at the 3rd European MOOCs Stakeholder Summit, hosted by the Université Catholique de Louvain. By now it is widely acknowledged that MOOCs are not the overnight game-changer that would transform higher education beyond recognition and that they may not solve all the problems of access, quality and funding. 

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News from Brussels

2016 EU draft budget - Horizon 2020 funding down by 2%

On 27 May the European Commission released its first proposal for the EU budget 2016. EUA notes that in the proposed text, the funds committed to Horizon 2020 decrease by almost 2%, with a notable drop of over 7% for the European Research Council (ERC). 

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Member and Partners News


Next newsletter: 19 June 2015

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