Education International
Education International

New report reveals decreasing public funding amid growing privatisation trends in European education

published 21 April 2016 updated 22 April 2016

The European Trade Union Committee for Education’s latest report shows how the continuing legacy of the economic crisis and austerity programmes continue to wreak havoc on Europe’s education systems, teachers’ working conditions and collective bargaining.

The European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE), Education International (EI)’s European regional office, published on 21 April two new survey reports on the “State of funding in education, teachers’ working conditions and trade union actions, social dialogue and collective bargaining” in Central and Eastern European countries and in Western European countries.

“Although the situation is, overall, much more serious in the Eastern than the Western part of our Continent, there are many dangerous and similar tendencies,” said ETUCE European Director Martin Rømer. “In many countries,” he continued, “the scope of bargaining has narrowed at the very time that it should be expanding to deal with the many new challenges to the education community”.

Both reports indeed reveal that:

  • the impact of austerity programmes is, for the most part, not over and education budgets remain under pressure. This affects salaries and benefits of education workers, their working conditions and the availability and quality of training and professional development.
  • Reforms of national education and training systems occurred almost everywhere across Europe and they were clearly linked with decreases in education funding and led to increased privatisation.
  • Whether CEE countries experienced a rise in the number of privately-funded education institutions, especially in early-childhood and higher education, it is public-grant aided education institutions which spread the most in Western European countries.
  • Global corporation/consultancies that are influencing education policy and the delivery of education products and/or schooling are present in the majority of European countries.
  • In the area of social dialogue there is a concern that decisions affecting teachers and the school community are taken outside formal consultations with social partners, in particular when it comes to education and training system reforms and professional issues.

The reports ring an alarm bell about the increasing pressure coming from the inappropriate use of neo-liberal, market and business driven ideology and approaches in education. They feed in the ETUCE complementary strategy to the EI Global Response to Commercialisation and Privatisation in and of Education, an initiative seeking to demonstrate that commercialisation and privatisation undermine public education and are detrimental to society.

Read the Survey Report on Central and Eastern European Countries here

The Survey Report on Western European Countries is available here

The two mapping surveys were conducted over the course of 2015. The vast majority of teacher unions across Europe covering, 65 ETUCE member organisations from all sectors of education in 39 European countries (23 being EU countries) replied to the surveys.