Financing Higher Education in Greece

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According to the Greek Constitution, Higher Education in Greece is considered a public good. Therefore, it is financed from the state budget, both for its operating expenses and for its needs in investments and infrastructure. Fiscal consolidation programs implemented since 2010 have led to a dramatic reduction of state budget funds for Higher Education.

 

The recorded reduction of state expenditure on Higher Education for the period 2009-2013 is 31,74% (Graph 1). Nevertheless, the real reduction is much greater for the last six years (2010-2015). It includes the reduction of 30-40% of the salaries of the teaching and administrative staff, cuts of 50-60% to the operating expenses, and significant cuts of 60-80% to the public investment budget with regard to maintenance of infrastructure and provision of scientific equipment, for research and educational purposes.

Year Million Euros
2006 431.4
2007 478.7
2008 499.0
2009 501.3
2010 417.7
2011 323.7
2012 313.5
State contribution for HEI functional costs (everything except payroll) source: Ministry of Education, GR

Graph 1: Total public expenditure for Higher Education (in millions of €) and change rate of the index for the period 2005-2013.

Source: “Key figures in Greek Education”, Centre for the Development of Educational Policies, Greek General Confederation of Labour. Assessment: Unit A of the Task Structure for the Partnership Agreement for the Development Framework 2014-2020, Sector of Education, Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs.

During the period 2009-2013, because of the crisis, the total public expenditure for Higher Education per student was reduced by 27,4% (or 1.322,3€); from 4.834,5€ per student in 2009 to 3.512,1€ per student in 2013 (Graph 2).

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Graph 2: Total public expenditure for Higher Education per student and change rate of the index for the period 2005-2013.

Source: “Key figures in Greek Education”, Centre for the Development of Educational Policies, Greek General Confederation of Labour. Assessment: Unit A of the Task Structure for the Partnership Agreement for the Development Framework 2014-2020, Sector of Education, Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs.

 

The cuts to the budget for running costs constitutes an impediment to the unproblematic functioning of Higher Education Institutions in Greece. A part of their operating expenses is often covered my their own sources, mainly from the budget of their research programs, as well as from fees from postgraduate programs, programs of lifelong learning and laboratory services (Note: Undergraduate higher education is provided free of charge, according to the Greek Constitution). With regard to investment in infrastructure and scientific equipment, Higher Education Institutions face the real danger of increasing under-capitalisation.

An ever-increasing gap appears between the needs for investment and the existing financing, which threatens the country’s prospects for being in step with the developments in Education and Research in Europe.

 

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