Academic

Academic autonomy refers to a university’s ability to decide on various academic issues, such as student admissions, academic content, quality assurance, the introduction of degree programmes and the language of instruction.

The ability to decide on overall student numbers and set admission criteria are fundamental aspects of institutional autonomy. While the number of study places has important implications for a university’s profile and finances, the capacity to select students contributes significantly to ensuring quality and matching student interest with the programmes offered.

The capacity to introduce academic programmes without outside interference and to select the language(s) of instruction enables a university to pursue its specific mission in a flexible way. A free choice of teaching language may also be important in the context of institutional internationalisation strategies.

Although quality assurance mechanisms are essential accountability tools, related processes can often be burdensome and bureaucratic. Universities should therefore be free to select the quality assurance regime and providers they consider as appropriate.

The ability to design the content of courses (except for the regulated professions) is a fundamental academic freedom.

Overall student numbers

7
countries
Universities decide independently on the number of study places

This applies to 7 countries: Estonia, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom

4
countries
Universities decide on the number of fee-paying students while an external authority sets the number of state-funded study places

This applies to 4 countries: Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania

11
countries
Universities negotiate with an external authority

1
country
An external authority decides on the number of study places

This applies to one country: Serbia

6
countries
Free admission

This applies to 6 countries: Austria, Flanders, France, Wallonia, The Netherlands, Switzerland

Admissions procedures at Bachelor level

9
countries
Admission criteria are set by the university

12
countries
Admission criteria are co-regulated by an external authority and universities

8
countries
Admissions are entirely regulated by an external authority

This applies to 8 countries: Austria, Flanders, France, Wallonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovenia, Switzerland

Admissions procedures at Master's level

19
countries
Admission criteria are set by the university

8
countries
Admission criteria are co-regulated by an external authority and universities

2
countries
Admissions are entirely regulated by an external authority

This applies to 2 countries: Wallonia, Switzerland

Introduction of programmes at Bachelor level

8
countries
Universities can open degree programmes without prior accreditation

0
countries
A minority of new degree programmes/courses must be submitted to prior accreditation to be introduced/funded

This does not apply to any country.

4
countries
All new degree programmes/courses must be submitted to prior accreditation to be funded

This applies to 4 countries: Croatia, France, The Netherlands, Spain

10
countries
All new degree programmes/courses must be submitted to prior accreditation to be introduced

10
countries
Other restrictions

This applies to 10 countries: Austria, Brandenburg, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Flanders, Hesse, Iceland, Latvia, Sweden

Introduction of programmes at Master's level

8
countries
Universities can open degree programmes without prior accreditation

0
countries
A minority of new degree programmes/courses must be submitted to prior accreditation to be introduced/funded

This does not apply to any country.

4
countries
All new degree programmes/courses must be submitted to prior accreditation to be funded

This applies to 4 countries: Croatia, France, The Netherlands, Spain

10
countries
All new degree programmes/courses must be submitted to prior accreditation to be introduced

10
countries
Other restrictions

This applies to 10 countries: Austria, Brandenburg, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Flanders, Hesse, Iceland, Latvia, Sweden

Introduction of programmes at doctoral level

13
countries
Universities can open degree programmes without prior accreditation

0
countries
A minority of new degree programmes/courses must be submitted to prior accreditation to be introduced/funded

This does not apply to any country.

0
countries
All new degree programmes/courses must be submitted to prior accreditation to be funded

This does not apply to any country.

1
country
Only some universities/academic units can open new degree programmes

This applies to one country: Lithuania

10
countries
All new degree programmes/courses must be submitted to prior accreditation to be introduced

This applies to 10 countries: Croatia, France, Wallonia, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain

8
countries
Other restrictions

This applies to 8 countries: Austria, Estonia, Finland, Flanders, Iceland, Latvia, Poland, Sweden

Termination of degree programmes

26
countries
Universities can terminate degree programmes independently

3
countries
The termination of degree programmes requires negotiation between universities and an external authority

This applies to 3 countries: Austria, Brandenburg, Finland

0
countries
The termination of degree programmes occurs on the initiative of an external authority

This does not apply to any country.

0
countries
Other restrictions

This does not apply to any country.

Language of instruction at Bachelor level

1
country
Universities can only offer degree programmes/courses in the national language

This applies to one country: France

20
countries
Universities can choose the language of instruction for all programmes

2
countries
Universities can choose the language of instruction for certain programmes

This applies to 2 countries: Iceland, Lithuania

2
countries
The number of degree programmes/courses taught in a foreign language is limited by an external authority

This applies to 2 countries: Flanders, Latvia

2
countries
Universities can choose the language of instruction only if the programme is also offered in the national language

This applies to 2 countries: Wallonia, Slovenia

3
countries
Universities can choose the language of instruction but will not receive public funding for foreign-language programmes

This applies to 3 countries: Croatia, Latvia, Serbia

Language of instruction at Master's level

0
countries
Universities can only offer degree programmes/courses in the national language

This does not apply to any country.

21
countries
Universities can choose the language of instruction for all programmes

2
countries
Universities can choose the language of instruction for certain programmes

This applies to 2 countries: France, Lithuania

2
countries
The number of degree programmes/courses taught in a foreign language is limited by an external authority

This applies to 2 countries: Flanders, Latvia

2
countries
Universities can choose the language of instruction only if the programme is also offered in the national language

This applies to 2 countries: Wallonia, Slovenia

3
countries
Universities can choose the language of instruction but will not receive public funding for foreign-language programmes

This applies to 3 countries: Croatia, Latvia, Serbia

Selection of quality assurance mechanisms

3
countries
Universities can select quality assurance mechanisms freely according to their needs

This applies to 3 countries: Brandenburg, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia

26
countries
Universities cannot select quality assurance mechanisms

Selection of quality assurance providers

8
countries
Universities can choose the quality assurance agency freely according to their needs (including agencies from other countries)

0
countries
Universities can only select between national quality assurance agencies

This does not apply to any country.

21
countries
Universities cannot choose the quality assurance agency

Capacity to design content of degree programmes

26
countries
Universities can freely design the content of degree programmes and courses (other than for the regulated professions)

3
countries
Authorities specify some content of academic courses

This applies to 3 countries: Italy, Latvia, Lithuania

0
countries
Authorities specify all content of academic courses

This does not apply to any country.

0
countries
Other restrictions

This does not apply to any country.