The report uses a wide range of metrics, including academic, financial, staff-related and organisational to assess how institutions fare on the field of institutional autonomy. It aims to comprehensively assess the versatile education systems within, and to a degree, beyond (as the report includes Turkey, Georgia and Scotland amongst others) the European Union. However, the report mentions that Hungary, where the status of academic autonomy is conflicted, is assessed separately, in a complementary analysis. The report also examines the state of play in autonomy in national and system-level legislation, which EUA considers an important aspect of the interplay between governance and higher education.
The report identifies challenges to autonomy posed by the use of “steering instruments”, eg. funding-related policy tools, as well as ad-hoc interventions. It also highlights the importance of the balance between the involvement of public authorities and the university community in shaping university governance structures and governance members. With regards to external factors affecting autonomy in higher education, the report mentions the ripple-effects of the COVID pandemic as well as the adverse consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, such as the high energy prices putting institutions in a vulnerable position.
The foundation for the report is the EUA Anatomy Scorecard which is being continuously updated to provide contemporary and in-depth insights since its launch in 2011. The author of the report, EUA is a major policy actor representing almost 900 European Universities. It is also involved in numerous policy advisory activities, such as the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (COARA) of which EuChemS is also a member of.