French education minister Luc Ferry has told universities to attract more foreign students, and to use their increased powers to strengthen their public-service ethos. He said they had to resist American-style globalisation and construct an alternative European model of higher education.
Marking the start of the new academic year, Mr Ferry said that 38 European education ministers had recently reaffirmed higher education as a public service and responsibility.
But he said there were neither the resources nor the wish to prohibit the private American universities already establishing themselves in European countries.
Mr Ferry said the problem was to make sure public-service institutions were "capable of taking up the challenges of competition".
Looking ahead to the introduction of legislation to give universities more autonomy, Mr Ferry said the institutions had to have more initiative and freedom of manoeuvre "not to adapt or surrender to American globalisation, but to be capable of resisting this globalisation and to construct a European model, which will truly be an alternative to the American model".