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The impact of the economic crisis on the (in)efficiency of public Higher Education institutions in Southern Europe: The case of Spanish universities

Almudena Martínez-Campillo and Yolanda Fernández-Santos

Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, 2020, vol. 71, issue C

Abstract: The evaluation of university efficiency in Europe began timidly when the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) was created. However, this issue is currently becoming increasingly important in Southern European countries, where the limitation of public funding following the economic crisis in 2008 has put greater pressure on their public universities to achieve excellence and improve competitiveness. In this context, the goals of this paper are: first, to measure the relative technical (in)efficiency of Spanish public Higher Education Institutions in the period 2002–03 to 2012–13, comparing the situation before and during the last economic crisis; and, second, to analyze the determinants of university (in)efficiency and, especially, the direct impact of the crisis. After applying the two-stage double bootstrap DEA methodology, the results show that Spanish public universities have become more efficient during the crisis than before it. In fact, the regression analysis confirms that the “crisis” variable has had a statistically significant positive impact on university efficiency. We also find that age has favorably influenced how these institutions utilize their resources to produce teaching and research outputs, but technical specialization has had a negative effect. Moreover, the regional location of public universities has been also a crucial determinant of their efficiency level. Our findings are therefore relevant for political and academic decision-makers in order to know if public universities have been adequately managed in the crisis period and to identify factors that could improve their efficiency, and hence to help them to enhance their international competitiveness in the future.

Keywords: Public higher education institution; Spanish universities; (in)efficiency; Economic crisis; Southern Europe; Two-stage double bootstrap DEA (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.seps.2019.100771

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