A Non-Parametric Efficiency Perspective on the Research-Active European Universities Performance

  • Simona Gradinaru The Bucharest University of Economic Studies, Economic Cybernetics and Statistics Doctoral School, Bucharest, Romania
  • Anamaria Aldea Department of Economic Informatics and Cybernetics, Bucharest, Romania
  • Levida Besir The Bucharest University of Economic Studies, Economic Cybernetics and StatisticsDoctoral School, Bucharest, Romania
  • Alexandru Coser The Bucharest University of Economic Studies, Economic Cybernetics and Statistics Doctoral School, Bucharest, Romania
Keywords: Non-parametric efficiency estimators, Free Disposal Hull (FDH) Analysis, higher education, European universities


Higher Education Institutions often struggle to optimally use their available resources in pursuance of both educational and research outputs, while competing for gathering funds. Furthermore, increasing teaching burden for academic workforce may shrink their time dedicated to research, which may also negatively impact the budget. The aim of this paper consists in examining the efficiency of two important dimensions of European universities (teaching and research), together with a possible ranking based on the models we employ for each of these two perspectives. Our target is to also explore any possible compromises between education and scientific research. We employ non-parametric efficiency analysis using FDH (Free Disposal Hull) and Hyperbolic efficiency estimators for a sample of 264 universities for the year 2014, from the RISIS-ETER facility, a database of European Higher Education Institutions and their indicators. Filters are applied to the initial heterogenous dataset in order to obtain adequate efficiency models that analyse universities performance from both research and teaching perspectives. Teaching efficiency is defined by how well the institutions manage to use their government allocation and academic staff in producing the maximum amount of undergraduate degrees, whereas the research efficiency is given by how well the universities perform in maximizing their research outputs considering only the personnel involved in research activities. The results illustrate that many institutions are focusing into a single direction and some efforts need to be undertaken in order to improve the academic balance between teaching and research. An analysis of each sample is provided and gives us an interesting insight into the European universities’ activities.


Abbot M, Doucouliagos C. The efficiency of Australian universities: a data envelopment analysis. Economics of Education. 2003;22(1):89-97.

Bonaccorsi A, Daraio C, Simar L. Advanced indicators of productivity of universities. An application of robust nonparametric methods to Italian data. Scientometrics. 2006;66(2):389-410.

Curi C, Daraio C, Llerena P. University Technology Transfer: How (in-)efficient are French universities? Cambridge Journal of Economics. 2012;36(3):629-654.

Daraio C, Bonaccorsi A, Simar L. Rankings and university performance: A conditional multidimensional approach. European Journal of Operational Research. 2015;244(3):918-930.

Daraio C, Bonaccorsi A, Simar L. Efficiency and economies of scale and specialization in European universities: A directional distance approach. Journal of Informetrics. 2015;9(3):430-488.

Daraio C, Simar L. Advanced robust and nonparametric methods in efficiency analysis: Methodology and applications. Springer Science & Business Media; 2007.

Deprins D, Simar L, Tulkens H. (1984). Measuring labor efficiency in post offices. In: Marchand M, Pestieau P, and Tulkens H, editors. The Performance of Public Enterprises: Concepts and Measurements. Amsterdam, North-Holland, 243-267, 1984.

Färe R, Grosskopf S. A nonparametric cost approach to scale efficiency. The Scandinavian Journal of Economics. 1985;594-604.

Mouchart M, Simar L. Efficiency Analysis of Air Controllers: First Insights. Consulting report no. 0202, Institut de Statistique, UCL, Belgium; 2002.

Simar L, Wilson PW. Statistical inference in nonparametric frontier models: The state of the art. Journal of productivity analysis. 2000;13(1):49-78.

Stoica M, Aldea A. Efficiency of teaching and research activities in Romanian universities: An order-alpha partial frontiers approach. Economic Computation and Economic Cybernetics Studies and Research. 2016;50(4):169-186.

Wilson PW. Asymptotic Properties of Some Non-Parametric Hyperbolic Efficiency Estimators. In: Van Keilegom I, Wilson P, eds. Exploring Research Frontiers in Contemporary Statistics and Econometrics. Physica, Heidelberg; 2011. p. 115-150.

How to Cite
Gradinaru, S., Aldea, A., Besir, L., & Coser, A. (2019). A Non-Parametric Efficiency Perspective on the Research-Active European Universities Performance. LUMEN Proceedings, 9, 371-385. https://doi.org/10.18662/lumproc.182