Machines I want

Now, isn't this frustrating. After a hard day's work, putting all effort in converting my thoughts to text, I read this: Philip M Parker is the world's fastest book author, and given that he has been at it only for about five years and already has more than 85,000 books to his name, he is also probably the most prolific. Parker himself says the total is well over 200,000. So how does Philip M Parker (professor of innovation, business and society at Insead in France) do all that? When he turns to a…Read more …

La Résistance

French President Sarkozy's plans for reforming the French economy and the French public sector appears to cause some resistance. From opera employees to fishermen, train drivers, civil servants and postmen, there is hardly a sector that does not complain of some 'right' being eroded. Transport workers are striking over government plans to do away with special retirement privileges; Civil servants will go on strike over a plan to streamline the bureaucracy; Judges and court clerks plan a protest against reforms to the court system; Air France cabin crew have threatened to resume a…Read more …

French university reforms

Nicolas Sarkozy has made higher education reform one of the main issues in his early presidency. In general, the French universities are underfunded and inefficient. Higher education is free (apart from a small registration fee) and funded almost totally by taxpayers money. Universities are state agencies, staff are civil servants and institutional autonomy is lacking. Unsurprisingly, autonomy is the key word of the reforms announced by Sarkozy and Valérie Pécresse, the higher-education minister. She clarified here autonomy plans in the Economist: 161Read 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 …