To be successful in their research and teaching missions, universities need to be able to take their own decisions. The University Autonomy Tool lets you compare university autonomy in 29 higher education systems. It provides detailed information on organisational, financial, staffing and academic autonomy and ranks countries according to the level of autonomy they have in each of these dimensions.

New! As part of the update of the Autonomy Scorecard, EUA released both a comparative report and individual country profiles summarising and contextualising the information for each system.

Available for download:

University Autonomy in Europe III: The Scorecard 2017 (comparative report)

University Autonomy in Europe III: Country profiles

The profiles also include the views of the university sector on autonomy related developments. The information is valid for 2016.

For more detailed information on the methodology, take a look at the Questions & Answers section below.

The 2011 report is available here: University Autonomy in Europe II. The Scorecard

About EUA

The European University Association (EUA) is the representative organisation of universities and national rectors’ conferences in 47 European countries. EUA plays a crucial role in the Bologna Process and in influencing EU and national policies on higher education, research and innovation. Thanks to its interaction with its members and a range of other European and international organisations, EUA ensures that the independent voice of European universities is heard wherever decisions are being taken that will impact on their activities. For further information, visit www.eua.be.

Frequently Asked Questions – Background:

What need is there for a University Autonomy Tool?

In addition to their traditional teaching and research missions, modern universities are expected to fulfil a number of different societal roles. In order to do this successfully, they need to be able to take decisions on the issues affecting them, such as their management, finances, human resources and academic profile. The University Autonomy Tool gives you a detailed picture of the state of autonomy in 27 European countries. It enables the benchmarking of national policies, raises awareness among universities and provides researchers with a comprehensive set of data for further studies.

What does the tool tell me?

The Autonomy Tool concerns the relationship between universities and the state. It measures how flexibly universities can take decisions in the context of the rules and regulations that shape their higher education system. A high score on an indicator or autonomy dimension indicates that the relevant regulations provide a legal framework without restricting universities in their freedom of action. Although there are links between autonomy, performance and quality, the results of the Autonomy Tool do not indicate whether a higher education system is “good” or “bad”.

How can I use the Autonomy Tool?

There are two main ways to approach the data. On the map at the top of the Home page or in the Countries tab in the top menu, click on a country flag or name for detailed information on all autonomy indicators for that country.

The Dimensions pages give you an overview of the complete country data for each of the four autonomy dimensions. On the left you will also see rankings of all higher education systems, which are based on the results of each country for each autonomy dimension.

Which countries are covered by the tool?

The tool covers 27 European countries: Austria, Belgium (Flanders and French-speaking Community), Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Due to the federal structure of the German higher education system, three federal states are included: Brandenburg, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia. So the tool includes data on 29 higher education systems. For Belgium the tool includes data on both linguistic communities.

In the 2016 update new information could not be collected for Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Greece and Turkey. Four new systems have been included: the French-speaking Community of Belgium, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia.

What indicators are used to measure university autonomy?

The University Autonomy Tool uses 38 indicators, which are categorised into four autonomy dimensions. For more detailed information on the indicators used, please visit the Dimensions pages.

Which country is number 1?

No one country is the number 1 on university autonomy. University autonomy is a complex concept that consists of many different, but interconnected elements. For example, a high level of staffing autonomy is of little use if a university has no authority over its internal financial affairs. This is why the tool focuses on four central autonomy dimensions. It does not present an overall autonomy score.

Frequently Asked Questions – Methodology:

Where does the data come from?

The data presented on this website was provided by the national rectors’ conferences, the representative organisations of universities, in the 27 European countries covered by the University Autonomy Tool.

What do the scores mean?

The scoring system used by the tool is based on deductions. Each restriction on university autonomy was assigned a deduction value based on how restrictive a particular rule or regulation was seen to be. A score of 100% indicates full institutional autonomy; a score of 0% means that an issue is entirely regulated by an external authority or legally prescribed. The law often grants universities a limited amount of autonomy or prescribes negotiations between universities and the government. A higher education system in which this is the case receives a score between 0% and 100%, depending on how restrictive its particular situation is perceived to be.

For a detailed description of the scoring methodology, please download the full report: University Autonomy in Europe II. The Scorecard (pages 14-15).

How have the results been weighted?

The University Autonomy Tool uses unweighted and weighted scores. All results at indicator-level are unweighted. Weighted scores are only used at the level of the autonomy dimensions. The rankings presented on the Dimensions pages are based on weighted scores.

The weighting factors are based on a survey conducted among the national rectors’ conferences in October 2010 and thus reflect the views of the university sector in Europe. The results of the survey were translated into a numerical system, which evaluates the relative importance of the indicators within each of the autonomy dimensions. Since the Autonomy Tool does not present aggregate scores, the four autonomy dimensions have not been weighted against each other.

Click here for a breakdown of the weighting factors. For further information on the development of the weighting system, please refer to the report: University Autonomy in Europe II. The Scorecard (pages 16-17).

Does the Autonomy Tool allow for comparisons over time?

The data presented on this site mostly refers to the state of university autonomy in 2016, although more recent developments are often mentioned.

Four new systems have been included since 2011 – the French-speaking Community of Belgium, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia.

Four systems previously included have been removed as they could not participate in the update: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Greece and Turkey.

Data previously published for the 25 systems that were already included in the tool in 2011 has been modified as per the 2016 update. Modifications result from either a change in the regulatory framework or a revised interpretation thereof. Further details about changes in the data are included in the respective country profiles available here.