Privatisation and public-private partnership

Acknowledging the broad effect of the European economic governance process on education and training reforms at national level, and considering education as the priority lever for progress, ETUCE monitors all the phases of the new European economic governance process (European Semester) with a view to promote the European teacher unions’ vision of quality education for all. Since 2011, under the strain of the economic and financial crisis, the coordinated economic governance has failed to deliver a sustainable recovery. On the contrary, based on the austerity dogma, implemented structural reforms are dramatically deteriorating education and training systems, as well as teachers’ professional and personal wellbeing and education outcomes. In the context of the current austerity policies, many governments are opening the way to increasing privatisation of potentially profitable education services by free enterprise interests, thus jeopardizing across Europe free access to quality education for all, which is in ETUCE’s view one of the fundamental pillars of a just and democratic society. ETUCE has long been campaigning and mobilizing its member organisations for Quality of Education in Europe, proposing teachers’ alternative approaches to improving education systems based on growth-enhancing investment and solidarity rather than economic and social competition.

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ETUCE believes that education is a human right, and as such it must be publicly funded and accessible by all. All across Europe instead there is emerging evidence that the ideological drive towards privatisation and marketisation of education is resulting in increased discrimination, social fragmentation and widening inequality, the most affected being those with fewer resources. Evidence confirms the causal link between income and wealth inequalities and unequal educational outcomes. Economic austerity is having a negative impact on the lives of students from less privileged family backgrounds. ETUCE, as a strong advocator for education as a basic public service that promotes social cohesion, equity and equality of opportunities, believes that the predatory privatisation and marketization of education is a direct attack to quality and social justice for all. ETUCE campaigns vigorously against privatisation in education, with particular regard to the objective of securing equal opportunities for teachers and students.


  • The ETUCE Complementary Strategy Plan on the EI Global Response to commercialisations and privatisation in/of education was adopted by the ETUCE Committee in 2015. The initiative aims to demonstrate that commercialisation and privatisation undermine public education and are detrimental to the interests of society. Within the framework of the EI global initiative, ETUCE sets out its strategy with the aim of demonstrating where and how commercialisation and privatisation in and of education undermine the right to free quality education, create and entrench existing inequalities in education, undermine teachers’ working conditions, labour relations and rights, and erode democratic decision-making and public accountability in relation to education governance.
  • The Resolution on Privatisation and Educational Inequality  has been adopted by the ETUCE Conference in 2012. It recognises the risks for education and equity given by the shift towards privatisation of education. It also calls ETUCE members to carry on campaign activities against it.
  • In response to the European Commission's Communication: Supporting growth and jobs – an agenda for the modernisation of Europe's higher education systems, the ETUCE Committee adopted in 2011 an ETUCE Statement 'Higher education is not for sale', which points out at the fact that education is not a commodity, and should not be treated as such. It highlights that the mission of higher education is much broader than to provide competences to the business. It must be publicly funded and accessible by all.


Trade unions experts on education and training as well as higher education discuss the issue of education and trade in the permanent committees of ETUCE, in particular the Advisory Panel and the Higher Education and Research Standing Committee


  • On 30 May 2017, the ETUCE has organised a Conference ‘Education in Europe: Public Investment, Privatisation and Reforms: What role do education trade unions play?’. At the occasion, the ETUCE released the research report ‘Education and Training Policy in the European Semester – Public Investment, Public Policy, Social Dialogue and Privatisation patterns across Europe’, conducted by the University of Nottingham, on behalf of ETUCE, unveiling privatisation patterns across Europe.
  • The ETUCE has published 2 new Survey Reports on the ‘State of Funding in Education, Teachers’ working conditions and Trade union actions, Social dialogue and Collective bargaining’ in Central and Eastern European countries and in Western European countries. 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 in 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
  • Carried out in 2013 – 2014, the ETUCE Campaign on Quality of Education in Europe has recalled in several occasions that Quality Education for all should be free of charge and accessible to all, as stated in the 10 key messages on 'What is needed to improve quality of education in Europe?' adopted by the ETUCE Committee on 23 -24 October 2014.