The financial and economic crisis, as well as the sovereign debt crisis, have caused considerable strain in public budgets. Governments across Europe have jeopardized the future of their countries by cutting education funding. Perhaps surprisingly, however, the majority of respondents to this survey have not experienced cuts in education budgets. 46 per cent of respondents did, and this number is extremely worrying. Governments have also cut teachers’ salaries and dismissed them. Although mergers of schools and their closures are significant, the survey shows that this has not been the case in the majority of countries which participated in the survey. This survey reveals, however, that there has been a strong push across Europe for reforms in the education sector.
Up to 62 per cent of organisations which responded to the survey reported education reforms as a result of the financial and economic crisis, while cuts in education budgets occurred in less than half of responding countries. There has been an increase in privatisation and/or public – private partnerships in roughly one out of six participating countries. The result of this question shows that most respondents have not experienced an increase in privatization.
Teachers’ salaries have been cut in less than half of the participating countries, but have been frozen in 14 out of 25 countries. While cuts in pensions for teachers who are already retired occurred in five countries, pensions have been cut for not-yet retired teachers in seven countries. Cuts in other teacher allowances occurred in less than half of the responding countries. Less than a fifth of countries have seen an increase in teaching lessons or in working hours.
Teachers have been dismissed in every second country while schools merged in roughly one out of three countries. Slightly more than a quarter of organisations reported school closures in their countries. The number of enrolment in initial teacher education institutions/faculties did not significantly decrease, and neither has their curriculum been narrowed since January 2011. Tuition fee has been introduced for initial education of teachers only in one out of 23 countries and teacher education institutions/faculties have been privatized in two of them.
National governments have slashed funding for teacher education in the form of subsidies. 7 out of 24 participating countries have experienced these cuts. Working hours of teacher educators increased in one out of eight countries, and so did their class size. The majority of countries, 19 countries out of 23, have not reported that teachers are replaced with unqualified staff.
Since January 2011 – according to the data provided by 30 teacher trade unions from 26 countries – the crisis has revealed a strong impact on education reforms and the freezing of teachers' salaries with more than half of the countries reporting this trend. Cuts in public budgets, cuts in education budgets as well as teachers’ salaries and other allowances, dismissal of teachers and mergers of schools were among issues reported by roughly every second country represented in the survey.