Education : Higher Education an Urgent Priority, Says Think Tank Report

Article excerpt

The success of the new three-year cycle of the Lisbon strategy (2008-2010), due to be approved by the European Council on 14 March, will depend in part on the member states' efforts to stimulate higher education. The Bruegel think tank has reiterated this argument in a report to the Ecofin Council, meeting on 13 March on the fringes of the European summit. Drawing on an OECD study, Bruegel notes that investment in higher education plays a "much more important role" in growth and innovation than investment in primary and secondary education in the countries that wish to make good their technological delay (compared to the United States or Japan in particular).

Europe is lagging in this field, however. In 2005, higher education degrees totalled 39% in the United States but only 24% in the Union. The Brussels-based think tank sees a reason for that: 3% of the American GDP is spent on higher education, as compared to only 1.4% in the Union. The EU25 states spend an average of 8,700 per student, compared to 36,500 in the United States. The Bruegel report singles out the top of the class countries in the EU (Sweden, Netherlands and the United Kingdom) from the "other countries of Southern Europe and France," which have a high number of universities but give them poor budgets. …