Higher education: EU could do better

February 25, 2002

Brussels, 22 February 2002

A public hearing on universities and higher education in EU and non-EU countries was held on Wednesday by the Culture Committee with a view to the drafting of an own-initiative report by Cristina GUTIÉRREZ-CORTINES (EPP-ED, E).

According to Eric FROMENT, French President of the European University Association, which brings together 600 universities in 45 countries, there was a need to introduce quality control arrangements as well as European masters degrees. While acknowledging the existence of the language problem, he said that diversity was one of the distinguishing features of education in Europe.

His compatriot Dominique DEPEYRE, head of international relations at the École Centrale de France, put forward a number of suggestions. His establishment, he said, trained 430 graduate engineers each year, of whom % were non-French.

Moreover, 130 graduates obtained their qualifications under a special programme involving 16 countries which required the student to spend two years in a foreign university linked to the École Centrale. Underlining the importance of dialogue with society at large and the business world, he said that 80% of grants were provided by industry.

Pedro APARICIO SANCHEZ (PES, E), taking up this point, said that greater account should be taken of the demands of both students and industry, and that this was one of the advantages of the American system. The President of the National Union of Students in Europe, Martina VUKASOVIC (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), warned against the 'mercantilisation' of education, a fear which was shared by Greek MEP Konstantinos ALYSSANDRAKIS (EUL/NGL). She also highlighted the main needs of students at European level, such as equal access to education, guarantees of quality and better grant arrangements.

The fact that the European higher education system was becoming increasingly uncompetitive was the main point raised in a speech by José-Ginés MORA, of the University of Valencia in Spain. He said that South American, Indian and Japanese students preferred to go to the USA and added that, while Europe was usually more egalitarian than the USA in most areas, this was not true of education.

The US allocated far more resources to education and as a result more young people had access to it. The coordinator of the project 'Tuning Educational Structure in Europe', Julia Maria GONZÁLEZ FERRERAS, told the meeting that more than 1000 European teachers were looking at the question of possible harmonisation of qualifications in history, maths, business, management, physics and chemistry. Mr ALYSSANDRAKIS and Gianna VATTIMO (PES, I) underlined the importance of the recognition of qualifications between European countries for mobility purposes.

Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport

              In the chair: Michel ROCARD (PES, F)Press enquiries: Pernilla Jourde - tel. (32-2) 28 43411e-mail: press-sv@europarl.eu.int

European Parliament News Report 2002-02-22

http://www.europarl.eu.int/home/default _en.htm

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