Headline July 05, 2015/ ''' EUROPEAN UNIVERSITIES ''' [IN] !GREAT CONTEXT! '''



EUROPE WANTS TO BE COMPETITIVE, but it's not ready to accept competition, notes Esko Aho, a former Finnish prime minister and European Commission adviser on reform.

And if you wanted to examine parts of European life that yearn to be world class, but are determined to hold out against market forces and the laws of competition, the continent's universities would be a good place to start.

They are cherished national champions, often funded and usually controlled by the state and sometimes crammed with political appointees.

In much of  ''old Europe''  , universities give a valuable product   -degrees-   away more or less free. That is a pretty effective way of avoiding consumer pressure.

They are further shielded from competition by such things as tradition, national pride and language.

In the realm of private business:
The  EU has fostered competition in markets for capital and goods. The European Commission works hard at busting cartels, and tries  [sometimes successfully]  to stop governments bailing out no-hopers with taxpayers money.

Yet the  EU {quite properly]  has no powers to regulate education policy.

Alas, in much of Europe, that means subsidies, micro-management and legally backed monopolies that govern the way university are run.

Small wonder that many famous names are shadows of their former selves.

Unleashing universities  ''full potential'' , and  ''mobilising the brainpower of Europe'' are the heart of the commission's plans to create a knowledge-based European economy.

And change is indeed coming  -but by accident. The trigger is a modest but worthy scheme called the  Bologna process, which is designed to make it easier to compare courses between countries, and to move between them.

So a Belgian student, who spends a year in, say, France, gets a credit that means something at his home university.

A university selecting candidates for an oversubscribed course will know how to rank a French student brandishing an  ''Assez Bien'' , an Englishman with a  ''2:2'' degree and a Spaniard with a  ''Sobresaliente'' .

That doesn't sound very ideological. But the debate it has sparked certainly are. Europeans do not think the same way about higher education. as soon as you make the difference more visible, the rowing starts.   

In Sweden, for example, academics are squabbling over calls to match their marking schemes with standardised Euro-grades, from A {excellent} to F for fail.

Students risk psychological harm, they fret, if visibly labelled successes and failures.

Much better to stick with a two-level system of pass and fail, writes one distinguished research author, or  [if you will insist on such elitism]  one extra level of   ''pass with distinction''  for the top quartile.

Jacob Christensen,  a political  scientist   at a Swedish university,  Umea, suggested recently  that  Swedes:

''Are expected to descend into   deep psychological  disorder  as soon as they encounter disappointments in everyday life.''

The Honour and Serving of this  ''Educational Operational Research''  continues. Thank you, for reading, and I hope and wish, sharing forward.

With respectful dedication to all the Students, Professors and Teachers of Europe. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' Judging The Judges '''

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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