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Lisbon Council report on shortcomings of European education

In March, the Lisbon Council for Economic Competitiveness, a Brussels-based not-for-profit policy network, published a report by OECD education expert Andreas Schleicher entitled “The Economics of knowledge. Why education is key for Europe’s success”. Arguing that investment and innovation in education is crucial for the wealth and social cohesion of nations in present-day knowledge-based economies, Schleicher analyses Europe’s record so far and rings the alarm bells. Unless Europe invests much more in education, and unless its education systems become more flexible, more effective and take in more people than today, it will not stay at the top of the global value-added chain. Here are some key findings:

  • Educational spending in most of Europe remains well behind that in Japan and the US (at primary, secondary and tertiary education). In tertiary education, the US invests 50 percent more per student than Europe;
  • Growth in the participation rates in higher education over the last decades has not kept up with growth elsewhere in the world in many European countries, such as the UK, France and Italy, and it has even fallen in Germany;
  • Despite a strong equalitarian ethos, the education systems of many European countries, amongst them Germany, France and Italy, are de facto socially exclusive. Too many from less advantaged backgrounds fail;
  • Lifelong learning is the talk of the continent, but not the reality which shapes it. Europeans train and update their knowledge and skills less often than others.

As usual in international comparisons of this sort, the Nordic countries of Europe, and Finland in particular, compare favourably with the rest of the continent.

Report "The Economics of knowledge. Why education is key for Europe's success"