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PhD Defence Paul Flach | Funding of higher education based on unit cost

funding of higher education based on unit cost

The PhD Defence of Paul Flach will take place in the Waaier building of the University of Twente and can be followed by a live stream.
Live Stream

Paul Flach is a PhD student in the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies. (Co)Supervisors are prof.dr. B.J.R. van der Meulen and dr. B.W.A. Jongbloed from the faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences.

A central question in the governance of public universities in Europe is how to optimize the funding of public universities. Discussions focus on the one hand on the level of higher education funding and on the other hand on methods that aim to ensure efficient spending in the form of Performance Based Funding (PBF).

PBF is based on so called New Public Management (NPM). However, NPM is criticized both in society as in the scientific debate. In the Dutch society, businesslike management is often associated with ‘profit for people’. In contrast to the economic oriented NPM, Public Value Management (PVM) focusses on both economic and non-economic public values. However, PVM is difficult to applicate. In my thesis I solve this dilemma by combining NPM and PVM and apply this combination to Higher Education funding. I do this by calculating unit cost (components) and relate unit cost (components) to Higher Education public values as accessibility, quality and efficiency.

In the thesis I hypothesize that unit cost information will result in including higher education specific public values in the process of higher education funding decision making. This research is preceded by two sub-studies. In the first sub-study I investigate how managers at operational level respond to performance agreements, an actual application of NPM, that aim a higher level of education intensity and the role of organization culture in this process. In the second sub-study I investigate methods for higher education unit cost calculations than can be applied in the funding of Dutch public universities.

The results of the first sub-study indicate that organization culture might be more relevant than expected based on similar research, which could explain why performance agreements are less effective than expected based on NPM. The second sub-study results in a method that can be used to calculate unit cost of higher education. The results of the study to the relation between unit cost and Higher Education public values confirm the hypothesis that more information about education unit cost and tradeoff effects on higher education specific public values as accessibility, quality and efficiency, results in including these public values or balance between these public values more in considerations that drive education funding decisions. It should be noted that other variables also affect this process. Education or position can be examples of such variables in the context of this research. A nuance is that these results appear in an experimental setting. In practice the decision making process is more complex.