As Dollar Strengthens, U.S. Students in Europe Feel the Benefits
A new research study finds that the higher education dollar (a direct measure of student tuition) at institutions in the US is more than double the average of its European counterparts. The study reveals how these differences in spending account for the huge differences in student outcomes between the two regions. It also finds that the difference in financing policies between the US and Europe is responsible for a large part of the difference.
The study, authored by George Borjas, Ph.D., and published in the April 20 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, is the first to compare US and European students over the same time period, a decade and a half in the making. The research is based on the results of data from more than 100,000 students enrolled in public and international higher education institutions in the US and Europe. The findings show that for the US students, the average spending per student is more than three times that of Europeans. As student tuition in the US increases, so too does the per-student spending, and the financial pressure on universities in the US. For the Europeans, average cost per student is less than half of the spending in the US.
“The comparison of US and European education spending has focused on the cost per student, and other analyses have not taken into account the importance of funding. It is this imbalance that makes the US higher education system more expensive than Europe,” said Borjas. “The US spends more per student on educating its students, but the funding for those students is much less than the spending in Europe.”
The research found that the different levels of education spending are linked to huge differences in student outcomes. Europe-based students perform better in most of the categories that the study considered. However, while the US students perform better than European students in the areas of knowledge and skills, they do not perform as well in the areas of discipline and socialization. The comparison of student satisfaction between the two regions shows that the US students are more satisfied than their European counterparts.
“The US has long had the best higher education system in the world, and it is not due to having the most expensive system. In fact, the US has the most expensive education funding system in the world, with the average institutional cost per student more than three times the average institutional cost per European student,” said Borjas.
“I would say that the