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Centre for European Reform presents pamphlet on future of European universities

The Centre for European Reform, a London-based think-tank devoted to Europe-related issues, has just published a report on the future of European universities, which, as described in the report, appears to be not very bright. The authors of the report, Richard Lambert and Nick Butler, state that Europe’s universities in general are failing to provide the intellectual and creative energy that is necessary to improve Europe’s performance, and that a serious lack of resources is putting a limit on their efforts. The following are the key issues outlined in the report:

  • European universities are seriously underfunded compared with their international peers;
  • most European universities have limited autonomy when it comes to governance due to many decades of state domination;
  • too many of Europe’s universities aim for the same goals – to conduct research and attract funding for it. The authors suggest that universities should collaborate with each other by building networks of research departments with complementary skills;
  • less than a quarter of the EU working age population has obtained education at university level, unlike the US, Japan and South Korea, where the percentages are respectively 38, 36 and 26;
  • more links should be established between universities and the business world.

The report concludes that Europe requires more efficient and selective funding mechanisms, improved systems of governance and enhanced academic and student mobility. It also voices some remarks concerning the European Commission’s idea of creating a European Institute of Technology (EIT), referring to it as being ‘fantasy land of an expensive kind’, and that instead of taking a top-down approach to creating excellence, the EU should rather give financial support to existing universities and allocate resources on the grounds of peer-reviewed excellence. In this context, the European Research Council would be, according to the authors, a positive step in this direction.

Centre for European Reform