Unmask Gats

July 16, 2004

The perspective on the General Agreement on Trade in Services presented by Stéphan Vincent-Lancrin (Opinion, July 2) is misleading.

Although Vincent-Lancrin may be correct in saying that no country has expressed interest in including public education in Gats, we should be clear that the US has formally requested the inclusion of education from the European Union.

Vincent-Lancrin cloaks the wolf in grandmother's nightdress when he says that Gats requires only "no unnecessary barriers to trade in services". Educational considerations themselves would constitute such barriers, and the regulatory framework he properly advocates would probably be invalid under Gats disciplines.

While we agree with him on the need for regulation, this must extend beyond market values. He highlights three challenges posed by cross-border higher education (quality, access and equity), but more fundamental is the right of countries to regulate education in response to their own needs.

Brian Everett
Assistant general secretary
David Margolies
Chair, European and international affairs committee Association of University Teachers

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