EIT and Policy Research

A few weeks ago, I discussed a study of Luc Soete and Peter Tindemans on the feasibility of the European Institute of Technology. On the basis of a comprehensive analysis, they concluded that the decentralized EIT that has been proposed by the Commission was not feasible. It is too dispersed; it would not increase significantly the research output in a field; it cannot match a top tier university in providing an environment for training graduates; and a dispersed institute cannot adequately organize technology transfer. As an alternative, they suggested a clustered model for…Read more …

Yet Another EIT (or EITs)?

A study team led by Peter Tindemans (former Chair of the OECD Megascience Forum) and Luc Soete, Director of UNU-MERIT, a joint research and training centre of United Nations University and Maastricht University in the Netherlands) has proposed yet another structure for the European Institute of technology.Originally proposed by Commission President José Manuel Barroso as part of the relaunched Lisbon Agenda, the aim of the EIT is to strengthen the European 'knowledge-triangle' of research, education and technology. The European Commission first expressed a preference for the EIT as a single institution. After a…Read more …

Reality TV enters Academia

A cross between 'University Challenge' and 'The Apprentice'. That's how The Times describes a new TV show in India: Scholar Hunt - Destination UK. In the show, students will compete for full scholarhips to the universities of Leeds, Warwick, Cardiff, Sheffield and Middlesex. They will follow the students going through the exams, interviews and other tests for the scholarships. Each of the British universities will award one scholarship for a 3 year degree worth 45000 Pounds. Arun Thapar, the show’s producer and presenter:“It’s survival of the fittest, but hopefully this will provide someone…Read more …

Brussels vs. Brussels

In a letter of formal notice, the Commission has recently 'ordered' the Austrian and Belgian governments to change their entry requirements for other EU students(*). The Commission argued that the caps and quotas that have been put in place by these governments are in breach of Article 12 of the EU Treaty ("Within the scope of application of this Treaty, and without prejudice to any special provisions contained therein, any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited").A law introduced last year was intended to cut the number of non-Belgians accepted on certain…Read more …

Debunking EU Myths?

Andrew Moravcsik, Professor of Politics at Princeton University comes to the defence of Europe. Moravcsik is probably one of the most influential contemporary writers on European Politics and introduced a liberal inter-governmentalist approach to the study of European Integration (see for instance this book). On the occasion of the EU's 50th birthday he writes an article in Newsweek - The Golden Moment - debunking the myths of Europe's allegedly sclerotic economies, labour markets and politics. Europe is not a continental-size museum dropping into the dustbin of history...on the contrary.Economically, Europe is doing a…Read more …

Legrain on immigrants

Tonight I attended a lecture (in the Sydney Ideas Series) from Philippe Legrain on his latest book: Immigrants: your country needs them. It was also the occasion of his Sydney book launch but luckily - in this open world - I ordered the book a month ago from the UK (and thereby avoided the high Australian book prices).   Legrain's lecture will be available on the University of Sydney podcasts site, but here's a short impression of both book and lecture. In short, Legrain's message is: Let them in! Because it's better for…Read more …

Austria vs. Brussels

The case of the Austrian Europeanisation by stealth and the European Commissions' (EC) recent letter of formal notice continues... The Austrian chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer thinks that the EC not only affects the Austrian higher education policies but also jeopardizes the Austrian health system. He has said he will resist Brussels' push for equal access of all EU students to Austria's medical faculties."Vienna and Berlin have been and are still in agreement on the quotas scheme, and it is preposturous that some doctrinaires describe something as discriminatory which is not being perceived as discriminatory…Read more …

Greek resistance

More than six thousand students and academics marched through the centre of Athens last night to oppose government plans to reform the country's higher education system and allow private universities to operate in Greece.The protests reflect the rising tension over the reforms proposed by government, which would break a major taboo in Greece by allowing private universities to operate under state supervision and to issue state-recognized degrees. Academic staff began a three-day strike Wednesday, and have threatened open-ended strikes from next week. State primary and secondary school teachers held a sympathy work stoppage.…Read more …

More Europeanisation

On the 24th of January, a so-called 'letter of formal notice' has been sent by the European Commission to the governments of Austria and Belgium. The letter concerns the 'Europeanisation by stealth' that I have addressed before here for the case of Austria and here for the case of Belgium. These governments thought they found a solution for the high influx of foreign students (respectively German and French) in some of their universities. European law - Article 12 of the EC Treaty - prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality. In Austria, they…Read more …

The Ivy League Liga: Round 2

2006 has been somewhat of a revolutionary year for German higher education. The system where all universities were considered of equal quality and therefore were subjected to equal treatment by the government, experienced quite a stir.German Minister of Research and Education Annette Schavan announced in October last year that the Ludwig-Maximilian University (Munchen) and the Technical University of Munchen and the University of Karlsruhe became Germany's first 'elite universities'. The three institutions are the biggest winners in Germany's 'excellence initiative'. This was established to improve the country's chronically under-funded universities (and its decreasing…Read more …

Whose European Higher Education?

Last Month, the Dutch Central Planning Agency (CPB; international name: Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis) published a report on the role of Europe in higher education: "Higher education: Time for coordination on a European level?" (in English). More specifically, they asked the question whether there are valid reasons for more European (as opposed to national) coordination of higher education. Their final conclusion is NO: there is little empirical data that supports a shift towards European coordination of higher education. The authors claim that neither economies of scale, nor the existence of external…Read more …

Renaissance or Decay?

In the Financial Times, Richard Lambert proposes six steps to revitalise Europe's higher education (thanks to Biz Deans Talk for pointing me to the article). I'm glad that Lambert first of all points to the fact that there are differences within and between countries in Europe on this issue. Countries such as the Netherlands, Austria and Denmark have in recent years greatly improved the way their universities are run. The UK has some of the best research universities in the world. But European institutions are not well placed to compete in what has…Read more …

Pardon my French, but…

Because of globalisation, national governments face more difficulties in collecting sufficient taxes to keep their countries going. Alain Lamassoure, a French member of the European Parliament has found the answer:"The economic value of today's globalisation lies in information through transactions in the form of international communication. Why don't we levy taxes on this value?" "A small tax on an SMS from Paris to another French city could be allocated to the French government, but taxes on emails or SMS messages from Paris to Rome could be dedicated to the EU budget. In France…Read more …

…and keep your tray table and seat in the full upright position

For my flight to the United States I took some news articles that might be of interest and on which I might post later on. Here's a list of what I thought might be worthwile:An article on the risks that Australian universities are taking by focusing so (too?) heavily on the international student market. Universities are risking their academic reputation by rushing into dubious offshore ventures and are leaving themselves financially exposed as the boom in overseas students tapers off. A report from NSW Auditor-General Bob Sendt finds universities have become too reliant…Read more …

The costs of free education?

Higher Education in 'Old Europe' has had some pretty bad exposure again. Examples from Germany and France show that free education can be pretty costly. The Dutch ScienceGuide has a small item on an awkward German issue. Roughly translated and summarised: Five lecturers for 3000 students in German Linguistics was not sufficient at Paderborn University. "One professor had been ill for a long time and another lectureship was discontinued" the students complained and they took matters in their own hands. They collected money and recruited a lecturer from Bielefeld. She responded: "Of course…Read more …