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Comparing efficiency of public universities among European countries: Different incentives lead to different performances

Tommaso Agasisti*1 and Carla Haelermans**

* Politecnico di Milano (Italy)
School of Management
Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering
1 Corresponding author: e. tommaso.agasisti@polimi.it
** Maastricht University (Netherlands)
Top Institute for Evidence Based Education Research (TIER)
and IPSE Studies, Delft University of Technology
Abstract
In this paper we study the feasibility of the European EU2020 goal of increasing the number of higher education graduates, considering large differences in incentives and funding schemes between countries in Europe. We conduct an efficiency analysis on 13 Dutch and 58 Italian public universities. Our findings show that the relative efficiency of Italian and Dutch universities is strongly influenced by the policy perspective adopted. If the goal is to realize the European goals and minimise resources employed for obtaining a high number of graduates, Dutch universities turn out to be more efficient. However, Italian universities are much more efficient if the priority is to minimize the costs for a given level of activity, such as number of students. The main policy consequence of our findings is that it will be hard to realise European goals if not all countries have incentive scheme that are in line with these goals.
Keywords – Efficiency, frontier models, European higher education policies, EU2020.
Acknowledgments. We are grateful to Francesca Bonomi for her research assistance. A preliminary version of the paper has been presented during a seminar at Teachers College Columbia University (USA), October 2012 and at NAPW 2012, Houston, TX; we are grateful to the attendants for their comments. All the eventual errors are our sole responsibility.

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