Higher Education / Research : Commission: Private Investment Needed to Plug Eu's Funding Gap

Article excerpt

Persuading industry to fill a large part of the funding gap afflicting European universities is one of the main recommendations of a Commission Communication, adopted on 10 May (see below), on how the EU should deliver its modernisation agenda for higher education institutes.

The key question is how to equip universities to better meet the social and economic objectives articulated in the Lisbon Strategy with a series of urgent reforms mapped out in terms of both their research activities and their performance in preparing students for the job market. The paper was submitted as part of the Commission's contribution to the June European Council.

Looming large is the huge funding deficit between the EU and its main competitors in the knowledge economy'. The US, Japan and South Korea all spend around 3% of their GDP on research against the EU's 1.9%. For higher education, the US spends 2.7% against the EU's 1.1%, meaning that to bridge the gap on spending per student will cost Europeans an extra 180 billion.

Private funding (industry and households) explains the difference as, in terms of public investment, the transatlantic partners match up well. Hence the Communication lays down some specific proposals on how to encourage a better partnership between academia and business, which would also aid the Lisbon objectives through the development of curriculums that actually meet commercial needs. …