France warns US: hands off

December 3, 1999

PARIS French education minister Claude Allegre has criticised the United States for trying to foist its education system on Europe, which he warned could result in the privatisation of the service and uniformity of teaching.

In an interview published in

Le Monde during the run-up to this week's World Trade Organisation talks in Seattle, Mr Allegre denounced the "hegenomic willpower" of the US, which he said was seeking to set up American universities in Europe.

He claimed France had been excluded from an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development meeting in Sweden that discussed the globalisation of higher education.

However, a Swedish spokeswoman said the French had

been invited to the meeting.

The minister also criticised a US proposal to include education among services covered by the WTO.

Mr Allegre, an eminent geophysicist who has worked in the US, where he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, said: "We are seeing the desire to privatise education.

I am strongly attached to a public education service. I would even say a public service with national characteristics, even if we are introducing European harmonisation."

Education was the foundation of the French Republic, he said, and "equality of opportunity for all is essential".

These are our cultural and historic benchmarks. An education made uniform would lead to a uniform world - 'one teaching, one thinking'," he added.

It was "absolutely desirable" that French students should

study abroad, he said, but "that the Americans should set up

universities worldwide, all on the same model with the same

programme, would be a catastrophe".

US sources described Mr Allegre's comments as "vague" and "rather negative". A number of US universities ran programmes in France but these taught French culture to American students, they said.

The education minister's remarks run counter to criticisms from French academics that his controversial higher education reforms will copy the US system. But Mr Allegre has consistently maintained that his policy is to conform to an eventual European model, based on degrees of three, five and eight-year post-baccalaureat study.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns