Education Trends in Europe

New ETUCE Survey Reports Ring an Alarm Bell

Brussels (BE), May 2016 - The ETUCE has published two new survey reports, available on the ETUCE website, on the "State of Funding in Education, Teachers’ working conditions and Trade union actions, Social dialogue and Collective bargaining". One deals with Central and Eastern European countries and the other with Western European lands. The two reports are a comprehensive "state of play" that combines the outcomes of eight years of economic crisis and fiscal consolidation measures on public finance of education systems, teachers’ working conditions, the role of teacher unions, and the major trends in social dialogue and collective bargaining.

During 2015, two mapping surveys were conducted with great success. The vast majority of teacher unions across Europe replied to the surveys. The survey results described in the two Reports revealed the following:

  • 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 that spread the most in Western European countries.
  • Global corporation/consultancies that are influencing education policy and the delivery of education products and 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.

"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 Martin Rømer, ETUCE European Director, "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".

The two 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. The reports feed into the ETUCE complementary strategy to the Education International (EI) Global Response to Commercialisation and Privatisation in and of Education. The EI/ETUCE initiative seeks to demonstrate that commercialisation and privatisation undermine public education and are detrimental to society.