Intellectual Output 1: final report

IO1 main result is a report that delivers a detailed analysis of financial support systems available for students in Higher Education across the European Union and the partner countries: Italy, Poland and the UK. The document identifies specific drivers and inhibitors of current funding models for Higher Education students to provide elements for the design of the innovative model. In particular, SHIFT evinces the dynamics of higher education students’ access to finance and financial literacy across the European Union, emphasizing the rigidities in availability of the direct (loans and grants) and indirect (tax allowances, family benefits) schemes for students and discerning the government initiatives in European Union countries to increase the level of financial literacy. Furthermore, this report thoroughly examines the private and public expenditure by European Union countries to finance higher education and highlights the shortcomings of the current funding policies. Key data sources, which have been extensively used in desk research, include OECD, Eurostat, Eurydice, Bank of Italy, Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Sutton Trust, among many others.

Based on common methodological approach developed by the partner countries, a student survey has been carried out using an identical questionnaire, which has been translated into Italian and Polish languages. The main objective of the survey was to identify the most significant barriers to enter higher education in selected Member States:

  • in Italy, SHIFT partners ran the questionnaire-based survey in the period between 27 February and 15 March 2018 by using  online survey tools or by mailing hard copies directly to students and obtained 1,067 replies, 804 of which have been properly completed;
  • in Poland, SHIFT partners conducted a survey between January and mid-February 2018, using both on-line and off-line data collection methods. The questionnaire has been sent to students at both public and private universities across different cities in Poland and in total 342 completed surveys have been collected, 132 of which are via an online tool;
  • In the UK, SHIFT partners carried out a student survey for England, which collected 144 responses, and a survey for Wales, which collected 121 responses. Additionally, Higher Education alumni participated in an opinion survey carried out by SHIFT partners in England and Wales, which covered 34 respondents.

Finally, several interviews have been carried out with different stakeholder groups including policymakers, banks and students’ associations across all the SHIFT countries.


The Final Report has been co-authored by: Enrico Onali, Giovanni Cardillo (Aston University), Dennis Philips, Ruslan Tuneshev (Durham University), Tim Zhou (Swansea University), Agnieszka Paczynska, Klaudia Wolniewicz Slomka (CASE), Lorenzo Costantino (IHF), Giulia Costantino, Igor Yury Paolucci (IDP), Alessia Cordini, Silvia Faloretti, Andrea Castiglioni, Pietro Rossi (EDUCatt).

The Executive summary of the final report is also available in

Intellectual Output 2: final report

SHIFT has the objective of alleviating the financial burden of access to and participation in higher education of students. At the same time, SHIFT is expected to increase the efficiency of public spending in HE by developing an innovative model of virtuous Public Private Partnership based on a financial instrument and model (mix of endowment fund and investment fund) that will generate increased financial resources to be distributed as grants, matching grants and soft loans for higher education students.

This report provides a description of the basic features of the SHIFT model. The first chapter describes the role of Public-Private Partnership models, focussing on the EU and the partner countries (Belgium, Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom). The second chapter describes the main features of the SHIFT model, and in particular, it discusses the benefits to potential participants, the funding model, and the determinants of the choice of the financial tool. The third chapter discusses corporate governance issues and puts forward a governance model for SHIFT. The fourth chapter discusses the application process through which students would be selected for funding and how SHIFT would support the financial literacy of the students participating in the programme. The fifth chapter discusses how the SHIFT fund would be setup and other related operational issues.

The Report has been co-authored by: Enrico Onali (The University of Nottingham), Dennis Philips, Ruslan Tuneshev (Durham University), Tim Zhou (Swansea University), Agnieszka Paczynska (CASE), Lorenzo Costantino (IHF), Giulia Costantino, Igor Yury Paolucci (IDP), Alessia Cordini, Silvia Faloretti, Andrea Castiglioni, Pietro Rossi (EDUCatt).

Intellectual Output 3: final report

In Intellectual Output 3 the Partners aim to develop a framework that would enable the potential sponsors of the SHIFT project to understand whether the project is feasible, what risks the project would be subject to, and how to address such risks. The central focus of this Output is to provide a quantitative evaluation of the potential ability of the SHIFT investment fund to generate returns that can be used to provide students with either grants or loans.

Chapter 2 provides a brief explanation of asset pricing models normally employed in finance. Specifically, the Consortium provides an account of the main assumptions and implications of the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) and the Arbitrage Pricing Theory (APT). These asset pricing models are valuable because they enable to implement the stress tests in Chapter 4 in a way that is simple to understand, and they also allow to address some issues deriving from a lack of long-term data for the proxies the Partners have chosen for the SHIFT investment fund. The main purpose of Chapter 3 is to describe the key issues involved in stress-testing. Starting from a brief history of the use of stress-testing methods, and then moving on to describe more in detail how stress-testing methodologies are applied in practice, a brief account of major stress tests in the US and the EU is given. This chapter is very important to understand how the stress-test of the SHIFT investment fund is implemented in Chapter 4. In particular, Chapter 3 defines scenario stress-testing methods and sensitivity stress-testing methods and how these methods can be implemented using historical or hypothetical settings. In Chapter 4, the Consortium will employ hybrid methods based on both scenario and sensitivity analysis, and it will also use bootstrap methods, which simulate data on the basis of actual historical data, to enhance the robustness of our analysis.

Starting by collecting data on fund management fees in the EU and data on the proxies for the different components of the SHIFT portfolio (equity and bonds), the focus moves on to examine the sensitivity of the SHIFT portfolio to changes in stock market returns and interest rates. Finally, a simulation of  the performance of the SHIFT portfolio under three difference scenarios is provided: a “normal”, a “boom” and a “recession” scenario. To conclude the chapter, the Partners also consider the potential demand risks on the success of the SHIFT project.

This report has been jointly prepared by the partners.


Project Shift