28th Oct 2016

US universities tower over 'dilapidated' EU schools

EU universities are among the worst-funded in the world, falling behind US schools and becoming vulnerable to competition from Asia, according to a new report by the London-based think-tank the Centre for European Reform (CER) out 5 June.

EU member states spend between 0.9 percent (Slovakia, Italy, the Czech republic) and 1.8 percent (Denmark, Finland, Sweden) of their GDPs on higher education, compared to 2.6 percent in the US, the study notes.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • European universities are too often "drab and uninspiring" CER says (Photo: European Commission)

"Europe's universities, taken as a group, are failing to provide the intellectual and creative energy that is required to improve the continent's poor economic performance," CER states.

"There is a kind of drab uniformity across the sector: many institutions [especially in France, Italy and Germany] are struggling to cope with growing numbers of students and inadequate resources, delivering uninspiring teaching in dilapidated buildings."

CER cites Chinese and UK analyses saying that eight out of the top ten universities in the world and 36 out of the top 50 are based in the US, with China and India catching up and expected to enter the rankings in 2010.

The world's top ten non-US universities are: Oxford, Cambridge, Tokyo, Kyoto, Imperial College London, Toronto, University College London, the Swiss Technical Institute, British Columbia in Canada and Utrecht in the Netherlands.

The UK has five universities in the European top ten, with Switzerland, Utrecht, the Karolinska institute in Stockholm, Paris 06 in France and Munich in Germany also making the grade.

"Fifty eight percent of European citizens who received doctorates in American institutions between 1998 and 2001 chose to stay in the US once their studies were finished," the CER report says on the worrying drain on Europe's intelligentsia.

UK finance minister Gordon Brown signalled that he might raise UK tuition fees from the current limit of £3,000 a year after 2009 following the CER news, with the report's authors predicting that "all the big countries in Europe will sooner or later have to introduce tuition fees."

CER's rescue plan for Europe suggests weak universities should be closed so that resources can be concentrated in elite centres of excellence that carry out diverse types of research.

Universities should be more selective on students with fees helping to eliminate those who just want to "pass the time" and helping to cut the average EU drop out rate of 40 percent.

Member state governments should butt out of university management, with French and Italian education ministries the most intrusive, while giving "clear incentives for business participation" CER adds.

And EU funds should not be wasted on white elephants such as the European Institute of Technology or heavy-handed attempts to homogenise European university diplomas.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersUN global sustainable development goals, integration, and security on agenda for Nordic Council Session 2016
  2. Taipei EU OfficeTaiwan Seeks to Join Fight against Global Warming
  3. ANCI LazioAnci Lazio Definetely has a lot to Celebrate This Year
  4. EU-China ForumDebating the Future of the EU-China Relations on 28 November in Prague
  5. COMECEMigrants: From Fear to Compassion
  6. Birdlife EuropeBusiness as Usual - Juncker Snubs Environment and Protects Broken CAP
  7. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  8. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  9. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  10. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  11. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  12. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament

Latest News

  1. Calais children abandoned at former camp site
  2. Greece to probe UN allegations of illegal returns
  3. Poland defies EU on rule of law
  4. Belgium breaks Ceta deadlock
  5. Left MEPs thwarting Dieselgate probe, say right MEPs
  6. Cars should be allowed to exceed emissions limits, say experts
  7. EU case against Google is bad for developers
  8. Privacy activists mount court challenge to EU-US data pact