The presentation highlights the most recent trends regarding the main funding lines of the institutional ordinary funding (FFO). The analysis explores the FFO allocation in 2017 and maps each Italian state university within the national system by devising two indicators – standard cost and performance – based on the main funding lines. We can observe that 50% of Italian state universities benefited from the safeguard clause, i.e. a clause that limits the decrease of the FFO to each state university to 2.5% with respect to the previous year. However, it should be noticed that the ‘standard cost’ funding line has remained substantially unchanged since 2016. In addition, a comparison is drawn between the allocation of the main funding lines of FFO 2017 and FFO 2016 with regard to the higher education system and to each university.
In our presentation we explore gender equality in Italian universities by the numbers. To this purpose, the Italian Higher Education system is broken down according to three different subjects of analysis: students, academic staff and academic leadership.
As regards the students, the gender balance has been reached since at least a decade. The percentage of female students is currently 56% out of a total population of 1,662,598 enrolled students. However, the student body is not equally distributed across the disciplines and some areas are still a “male prerogative” such as engineering, physical education, defence and security and mathematics and informatics, where less than one third of the enrolled students are female, while in humanities female students are the majority.
The situation for the academic staff is more varied. A sort of gender balance exists within the research fellow category, where the share of females amounts at 50.9 %. Similarly, the percentage of female tenured and non-tenured assistant professors is around 46%. Referring to the higher ranks of the hierarchy, the female-to-male ratio becomes smaller and amounts to 37.2 % for the associate professors and 22.2 % for full professors respectively. Then, splitting the staff according to the discipline, the same disparity recognized for students persists. An extremely interesting case is the area of medicine that has a low presence of female full professors counterbalanced by an extremely high ratio of women among the research fellows (around three-quarters). Overall, the percentage of women within the academic staff has increased for the last 8 years and this gives rise to the hope that gender balance will be just a matter of time and might be achieved thanks to the generational turnover.
As for the category of full professors, gender disparities exist in the university leadership. Just 7 among the 96 Italian rectors are women: one from the North of Italy, 2 from the Centre and 4 from the South. They belong to different disciplines ranging from humanities (history and linguistic studies) to engineering, medicine and biology as well as to mathematics and informatics. The latter is quite surprising if we consider the scarcity of women in the same areas for both students and academic staff.
The German Excellence Initiative was launched in 2006 and was organized by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the German Research Foundation. They provided 1.9 billion euro to finance the most promising 46 projects at 28 universities along three main streams: 21 Graduate Schools to promote young scientists’ education; 20 Clusters of Excellence to promote top-level research; 6 Institutional strategies (i.e. Excellence Universities) to develop project-based, top-level university research. The aim of the Initiative is to increase international visibility of German universities and support high-class research by introducing a competitive environment for additional funds.
Sceptical voices accompanied the Excellence Initiative and our study aims to investigate its supposed effectiveness. To do so, we compared Germany with Italy in order to evaluate such Initiative in a comparative perspective. In terms of efficiency, Italy is more efficient than Germany but German Excellence universities display higher efficiency than the rest due to their intrinsic characteristics. Referring to research quantity, Germany has a higher research productivity than Italy and after the implementation of the Excellence Initiative, the research productivity raises for whole Germany compared to Italy. Such effect is even more stronger by considering the Excellence Universities. Finally, concerning research quality, Germany has a higher research impact than Italy but after the Initiative the country loses its advance. Excellence Universities experience an even greater decline than their Italian counterparts.
EUA believes that increasing institutional autonomy is a key element to enable universities to respond to new demands. Therefore, in 2017 it released the third report about University Autonomy in Europe dealing with the state of the art of the actual status of university autonomy in European higher education systems. The EUA report identifies four key areas of autonomy: 1) Organizational autonomy; 2) Financial autonomy; 3) Staffing autonomy; 4) Academic autonomy; and provides a comparative detailed picture of the different elements of autonomy, promoting a holistic view of recent developments and allowing a benchmarking at a European scale. Each area is composed of a set of indicators, among which we selected the most interesting ones to an Italian audience and we report the comparative analysis of the Italian case to the other European higher education systems.
The analysis shows the latest trends of tenure academic staff in the Italian university system by age group and by academic position level.
The overall decline of academic staff due to turnover regulations have mainly affected younger researchers. Overall, the tenure academic staff in Italian universities declined by 22,1% from 2008 to 2016, while the tenure academic staff under the age of 40 decreased by 78,1% over the same period. Moreover, the academic staff under the age of 40 – including non-tenure assistant professors – dropped by half, i.e. from 11.000 to 5.500.
Such difference between academic staff over the age of 40 and those under such age is also evident within each academic position: full professors and tenure assistant professors under the age of 40 decreased by 85% each. Notwithstanding the ‘Extraordinary Plan for Associate Professors’, associate professors under the age of 40 declined by 25%, while those over the age of 40 increased by 11,5%.