The research aims at evaluating the financial sustainability of Italian state universities in respect to the other EU countries. We define it as the ability to achieve teaching and research objectives meeting the balance between incomes and expenditures, and we evaluate it from the interaction between three factors: the financial autonomy, the leverage, and the liquidity. In the first part of the paper, we analyze the literature, and we translate these factors in a series of warning indicators. In the second part of the paper, we apply these indicators to the financial reports obtained from the Statistical Office of the Italian Ministry of Higher Education and Research. The objectives are: to calculate a synthetic sustainability indicator for each Italian state university, and to compare the risk among Italian universities and Italian and EU university sector.
Keywords: Financial sustainability, financial autonomy, leverage, liquidity, university.