The Future of European Higher Education in an Age of Demographic Headwinds: The Impact of Demographic Decline on Higher Education System Structures Funding in Romania Poland Russia [chapter]

Robert Santa
2018 European Higher Education Area: The Impact of Past and Future Policies  
Central and Eastern Europe is currently undergoing a rapid transformation due to the decline in birth-rates that occurred after the collapse of communist regimes across the region. The demographic transformation is increasingly affecting higher education systems, and the process was particularly acute in the years following 2008. The present paper aims to discuss the challenges faced by higher education in the context of population ageing and decline. Demographic trends across the European
more » ... r Education Area are likely to make population contraction a key contextual factor in shaping higher education in the decades to come. Currently, there is somewhat limited research aimed at assessing the impact of population decline brought about by sub-replacement fertility rates 1 on higher education systems. This can be linked to the fact that low fertility rates are a fairly new demographic occurrence. While low fertility rates cause rapid and often abrupt declines in birth rate and demographic cohort sizes, they take at least 18 years before they start having an impact on higher education, due to the age structure of the student body. Furthermore, countries with hitherto low higher education participation rates (e.g. Germany) often compensate for cohort size reduction via rapid growth in university access rates per cohort. As such, there is as of yet still a limited number of countries in which low TFR (total fertility rate, see below) has started having a significant impact on higher education systems, and even here the literature tends to discuss low TFR as a background rather than a transformative factor. However, the situation is likely to change dramatically over the next two decades, with steep population ageing and long-term contraction of education systems,
doi:10.1007/978-3-319-77407-7_23 fatcat:m4oqa7s7lbcklbz54unddlbzem