Financing and Institutions as Key Elements of the Future of Adult Education – Some Empirical Observations
The contribution reports about results of a comparative observation and analysis of the expenditure for adult education (AE) in a set of five countries, relates the expenditure to participation and institutional traits, and reflects about the different levels and patterns of financing in relation to strategies for the future development of AE. A main purpose was to observe as much as possible in an explorative way the overall expenditure for AE, and to get a first overview about the relationship between financing and structures of AE.
A main aim of the study was to acquire comparative and comprehensive information about the levels of financing in states from different welfare regimes (Nordic: Sweden, Finland; liberal: UK/Scotland, Australia; Austria as a continental country), and to observe the different sources of the expenditure by broad categories (individuals, the state, enterprises). The distribution of financing allows to some extent to control broad policy strategies, a high proportion of individuals signifying liberal policies, a high proportion of enterprises signifying corporatist policies, and a high proportion of the state signifying high public responsibility for AE. These patterns are also analysed with respect to variables about participation in AE, distinguished by vocational and non-vocational purposes. These steps give some hints about how the level and structure of financing relates to very basic patterns of participation. The main purpose of the study was on the national level, to better understand the Austrian structures by mirroring them through the comparison; however, the study also contributes information about the other countries selected.
The methodological approach relies on quantitative data, however, takes also elements of case studies, as the collection of the data needed direct contacts with representatives of the countries. Different sources of information were matched, and for the purpose of comparison the data were standardized by purchasing power and per capita. The sources for information about financing are fourfold. (1) for state/public expenditure a. public budget; b. public employment agencies; (2) for enterprises two waves of European „Continuing Vocational Training Survey“ (CVTS2&3); (3) for individuals the European „Adult Education Survey“ (AES); for Australia complementary sources were utilised. The access to the national data was prepared by consultations (oral or email) with representatives from the ministries, the statistical offices and the employment agencies.
Financing in relation to political strategies is clearly related to the power distribution as well as to the future of adult education. A main message is that such basic information for policy making is still scarce, and this increases the room for power plays among the stakeholders.
The results were unexpected in some ways: first the overall expenditure per capita was highest in Austria, with the highest expenditure by individuals, signifying rather a neoliberal policy approach than a corporatist one; second, there is no overall relationship between participation and expenditure in the selected countries, except that higher state expenditure are related to increased participation in formal AE; third, in terms of policy strategies the results do no point towards deliberate systematic patterns: Austria shows the most ‘neoliberal’ pattern, despite none of the actors does follow deliberately this strategy; in the liberal countries high state expenditure are combined with low overall expenditure and high participation.
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