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Sustainable Development Goals and Higher Education: An Efficiency Analysis


Higher education (HE) is a significant factor in a country’s economic prosperity and plays a vital role in addressing sustainability issues and actively promoting sustainable development. While many EU member countries have well-developed education systems in terms of rankings and SDGs’ attainment, little is known about the progress of other European countries. The goal of this research is to estimate the efficiency of higher education in the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 40 European countries. The method used to estimate efficiency is Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) with output-orientation and variable returns to scale approach. In the final model specification, two input variables and one output variable are used. Results indicate that the average technical efficiency of the 40 European countries is relatively high and equal to 0.94. Nine countries emerge as fully efficient in achieving SDG 4 with a coefficient equal to 1. The four largest higher education systems achieved an above-average efficiency score of 0.97 or higher. Six countries are recognized as the worst performing. However, more analysis is necessary to examine the sources of inefficiency in the worst-performing countries. Due to specific data limitations indicated in this research, it remains a challenge to evaluate the precise impact of higher education and its contribution to SDGs.