Organisational

Organisational autonomy refers to a university’s ability to decide freely on its internal organisation, such as the executive leadership, decision-making bodies, legal entities and internal academic structures.

The ability to independently select, appoint and dismiss the executive head and to decide on the length of his/her term of office is by no means guaranteed in all European higher education systems. Legal guidelines and restrictions still apply in many countries.

University governing bodies, which usually consist of a board or council, a senate or both, decide on long-term strategic issues, like statutes and the budget, and academic matters, such as curricula and staff promotions. If external, non-university members are included in governing bodies and hence involved in such fundamental institutional decisions, it is important that universities have their say in their appointment.

The capacity to create profit and not-for-profit legal entities and to decide on internal academic structures is directly linked to an institution’s ability to determine and pursue its academic and strategic direction. The ability to set up distinct legal entities may also open up important new funding streams.

Selection procedure for the executive head

17
countries
The selection of the executive head is not validated by an external authority

12
countries
The selection of the executive head is validated by an external authority

Selection criteria for the executive head

10
countries
The selection criteria for the executive head are not stated in the law

14
countries
The law states that the executive head must hold an academic position

2
countries
The law states that the executive head must hold a doctoral degree

This applies to 2 countries: Finland, Lithuania

4
countries
The law states that the executive head must come from within the university

This applies to 4 countries: Flanders, Poland, Serbia, Spain

5
countries
Other restrictions

This applies to 5 countries: Brandenburg, Hesse, Hungary, North Rhine-Westphalia, Serbia

Dismissal of the executive head

11
countries
The procedure for the dismissal of the executive head is not stated in the law

3
countries
The dismissal is confirmed by an external authority but the procedure is decided by the university

This applies to 3 countries: Hungary, Portugal, Sweden

0
countries
The dismissal is carried out by an external authority but the procedure is decided by the university

This does not apply to any country.

6
countries
The dismissal is confirmed by an external authority and the procedure is stated in the law

This applies to 6 countries: Brandenburg, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Spain

1
country
The dismissal is carried out by an external authority according to a procedure stated in the law

This applies to one country: France

8
countries
Other restrictions

Term of office of the executive head

6
countries
The length of the term of office is not stated in the law

This applies to 6 countries: Denmark, Wallonia, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, United Kingdom

3
countries
The maximum or range of length is stated in the law

This applies to 3 countries: Finland, Hungary, Latvia

2
countries
The minimum length is stated in the law

This applies to 2 countries: North Rhine-Westphalia, Sweden

18
countries
The exact length is stated in the law

External members in university governing bodies

3
countries
Universities cannot decide as they cannot include external members

This applies to 3 countries: Brandenburg, Latvia, Poland

24
countries
Universities cannot decide as they must include external members

2
countries
Universities can decide to include external members

This applies to 2 countries: Estonia, United Kingdom

7
countries
Universities can freely decide on external members

This applies to 7 countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, United Kingdom

3
countries
External members are proposed by the university and appointed by an external authority

This applies to 3 countries: Norway, Slovakia, Sweden

7
countries
External members are partly appointed by the university and partly by an external authority

This applies to 7 countries: Austria, Croatia, France, Wallonia, Hesse, Iceland, Slovenia

6
countries
The appointment is completely controlled by an external authority

This applies to 6 countries: Hungary, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland

3
countries
Other appointment process

This applies to 3 countries: Flanders, Ireland, North Rhine-Westphalia

Capacity to decide on academic structures

20
countries
Universities can decide on their academic structures without constraints

4
countries
Guidelines exist in the law

This applies to 4 countries: France, Iceland, Italy, Serbia

4
countries
Faculties/other academic structures are listed in the law

This applies to 4 countries: Croatia, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Slovenia

2
countries
Other restrictions

This applies to 2 countries: Ireland, Serbia

Capacity to create legal entities

19
countries
Universities can create legal entities without constraints

3
countries
Universities are only allowed to create not-for-profit legal entities

This applies to 3 countries: Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland

0
countries
Universities are not allowed to create any type of legal entity

This does not apply to any country.

7
countries
Other restrictions

This applies to 7 countries: Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden