Evaluating the performance of higher education institutions in Europe: A non-parametric efficiency analysis of 944 institutions
Conference contribution, 2014
Although a long tradition exists of studying the economics of education, performance comparisons of different kinds have traditionally been difficult to undertake. An important impediment has been the lack of comparable data. Tertiary education is no exception and data availability has proven to be problematic in several respects. Thus, early studies focused on traditional universities although higher education institutions (HEIs) represent a diverse group of organizations providing education. Apart from the difficulty of including different types of education providers, the field has also faced the problem of country comparison. At best, researchers have been able to access data within one country or a handful of countries. To a large extent, this study remedies the shortcomings of earlier studies. The study suggests evaluating HEI performance in a production theory context, applying the well-known Data Envelopment Analysis method to a cross section of 944 HEIs in 17 European countries. The DEA approach is particularly suitable in this context where little is known about production technologies and economic behaviour of the HEIs. Our country comparison is based on a large database, developed by the EUMIDA consortium. The consortium developed a census about basic indicators of HEI inputs and outputs. Experts from each country gathered data from national statistics offices, ministries and specific universities and then harmonized the appropriate data according to the agreed upon definitions of indicators. The data collection includes all HEIs which grant postgraduate and graduate education. Hence, the EUMIDA database offers unique micro-data about decision-making units in the higher education sector across Europe. On average, provision of education is found to be most efficient in the Slovak Republic followed by Belgium and Latvia, while Denmark and Norway display the lowest efficiency. The study also indicates a positive relation between high efficiency and research intensity.
Higher education institutions