As European nations institute “austerity measures,” public universities are feeling the pain. For decades, European Union member states have promoted higher education as a right for all citizens. The Euro crisis and massive budget cuts are now threatening public higher education systems in many EU countries.
The implementation of “austerity measures” in Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain have already had a severe impact on public education in those countries. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Institutions are trimming costs wherever they can. The University of Barcelona has eliminated budget allocations for the preservation of old books and manuscripts, although Adelaida Ferrer, the university’s head librarian, says she is able to authorize spending on a selective basis. Summer temperatures in Barcelona can reach the 90’s and, without proper care for the materials, the sweltering humidity can be especially damaging. In a cost-cutting measure, most of the university’s 16 libraries were closed over the Easter break, leaving only two open at a time, and subscriptions to some 500 of the library’s 15,000 publications have been canceled.”
Faculty salaries and work conditions have also suffered. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports: “António Costa Pinto, a political scientist and a research professor at Lisbon’s Institute of Social Sciences, says that throughout Portugal, professors have endured salary cuts amounting to 30 percent of their net income over the past two years. The country is quickly losing the ability to attract the best faculty and retain the best graduates, and he fears that it is falling into what he calls ‘a sort of third-world pattern.'”
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the financial cutbacks at European universities. The Chronicle of Higher Education may be accessed through databases at most university and public libraries.