Discussion paper

DP5327 Guide to Reform of Higher Education: A European Perspective

Although there are exceptions, most European universities and institutions of higher education find it difficult to compete with the best universities in the Anglo-Saxon world. Despite the Bologna agreement and the ambitions of the Lisbon agenda, European universities are in need of fundamental reforms. We look at structural reforms of higher education and propose more effective use of public subsidies, more efficient modes of financing institutions of higher education, more diversity, competition and transparency, and larger private contributions through income-contingent student loans. In the process we discuss the nature of an institution of higher education, grade inflation, fair competition, private and social returns to education, income-contingent loans, student poverty and transparency. We sum up with seven recommendations for reform of higher education.


Van Der Ploeg, F and B Jacobs (2005), ‘DP5327 Guide to Reform of Higher Education: A European Perspective‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 5327. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp5327