Study Visit Highlights Ways to Support Financial Sustainability of European Universities

Posted on: 26 January 2012

A study visit, organised by Trinity College Dublin’s Treasurer’s Office, in partnership with the European University Association (EUA) and Irish Universities’ Association (IUA), offered European university leaders, managers and administrators the opportunity to learn about full costing from an institution well advanced in the practice.  The study visit, “Implementing Full Costing to Support the Financial Sustainability of European Universities” took place between January 23-25 last at Trinity College Dublin, and marked the last of a series of events throughout Europe which aimed to enhance the development of full costing in European universities.

Study visit delegates at Trinity College Dublin.

Opened by Trinity Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast, the event highlighted how European universities are increasingly faced with growing demands and expectations on teaching and research in the face of rising costs.  The event featured a key-note address by the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Skills, Brigid McManus.  Head of the EUA’s Governance, Autonomy and Funding Unit, Thomas Estermann, spoke to the European delegates about the importance of identifying the full costs of universities’ needs and ensuring that these are placed at the very core of the institutional reform agenda to provide a better understanding of the actual costs incurred in all university operations and facilitate strategic decision-making in areas crucial to the fulfilment of their institutional missions.

Participants learned about the Irish approach to implementing full costing as a nation-wide coordinated process among all relevant stakeholders led by the IUA and supported with funding from the Higher Education Authority. Details of this approach were presented by experts from Trinity College Dublin and other Irish universities as well as a wide range of stakeholders.  This advice was complemented by expert perspectives from other European universities. The event also highlighted the key strategic issues involved in setting up full costing at a university and the key skills required for managing such a complex change process.  These issues included how to arrange costing methodologies, data collection and how to design effective communication strategies.  A particular focus of this study visit was the cooperation among the seven Irish Universities, the Government and funding agencies.