Please read the following article.
The Economist : How Europe fails its young
According to the Economist, European universities could soon be ranked after the top Asian universities. Among the top 20 universities, 17 are American, and only 2 European (Cambridge and Oxford).
The big problem is that universities in Europe are entirely state-funded. This means they are almost free, but also that the best professors go to the richer US universities with better-paid jobs. 70% of Nobel-prize winners are employed by US universities. That's simply amazing. It is high time reforms come in Europe in this field.
The first thing to do, in my opinion, is to introduce university entrance exams (some countries might have them, but not to my knowledge). In the UK, there is at least the A-levels determining which student can attend which university. But in a country like Belgium, anybody can go to any university (no limit on student applications), fail and restart as many time as they want, and all is paid by the state. The only way to curb the number of students now is to raise the difficulty of the exams, so that at least half the students fail in the first year, and maybe half of the remaining number the next year. This is a completely absurd system ! Tens of thousands of people are wasting 1 or 2 years of their lives when they could have been eliminated before entering university.
This is an enormous waste of money when one knows how much a student cost per year, but also a terrible waste of human resources - all those dropouts could have started to work 1 or 2 years earlier, even if they finally settle for less challenging studies. This system also encourages people to become depent on the state, especially with the generous unemployment benefits enjoyed in most European countries. It is also about time to introduce stricter rules about who can get the dole. In Japan, people can get unemployment benefits only for the first 6 months of unemployment. In Belgium, people can't get anything for the first 6 months, then, once they have managed to wait this reasonably short period of time, they are entitled to monthly benefits for "as long as it take them to find a job" (needless to say that some do not look very hard).
I am for the providence state, but under certain limits. I agree that people should get totally free schooling (until the end of secondary education), and if possible also at university (although not only through state finance), and I am also for free or mostly free medical care. However I am totally against the current overly generous unemployment benefit system.
It's time for change !