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Dreading to lag behind, France is looking to reinforce its position as a key player in world affairs and to compete for its share of the pie. After ratifying the Lisbon treaty and hailing France’s “return to Europe”, the commission on the “liberation de la croissance française” is the latest exhibition of France’s ambition to stay on top.
Mapping out a global plan for economic growth and the establishment of a strong knowledge economy, the report of the commission, presided by Jacques Attali, elaborates over 300 propositions, about 30 of which involve higher education reform. Inspired by the Lisbon agenda and the Finish model for research an innovation, the report calls for, among others things, more autonomy for higher education institutions and recommends that research be coupled with teaching obligations. The report also proposes the establishment of 10 top universities of world reputation which could receive up to 80% private financing.
Earlier, the French government had launched a five-year plan to improve higher education and increase spending. The budget for higher education and research has increased by 7.8% in 2008 (1.8 billion Euro) and is scheduled to reach a total of 5 billion Euro in 5 years.