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Thread: Europe's failing universities

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    Red face Europe's failing universities



    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 !

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    With the 'big name' schools, many people are paying for the name.
    What does that really mean? Oh, better chance at landing that
    first job, I guess.


    According to a debate on the US National Public Radio,
    http://www.onpointradio.org/shows/20...826_a_main.asp
    (((The High Cost of Higher Education
    College tuition is climbing over the moon and may be
    dividing the country, by wealth. - (Friday, August 26, 2005) )))

    following WW2 the GI Bill made it so that people could use colleges for social
    movement. That is, they wouldn't necessarily be stuck in poverty
    or lower middle class.
    Colleges and universities in the States are getting more and more expensive
    so as to make it an "upper" class institution.
    I was thinking colleges were that sort of institution like 10 years ago
    and is part of the reason I didn't want to be there. Today, it's way more so.

    Sure you could have a school with only those that could afford it,
    but what type of view of the world will graduates have?
    They will be surrounded by mostly people from the same background.
    Maybe a few middle class (if there's any of that left) there on scholarships.
    There is a danger they will wind up with a warped sense of reality -
    rich people are the smart ones and should be the ones making all
    the decisions in society because, afterall, they went to all the best
    schools. Looks a bit un-democratic, doesn't it?

    Personally, I think that anybody that wants to learn
    should be able to. Why should those without


    A side,
    I heard that back in the 1960's CE and before that it was cheaper
    for out of state tuition. (Maybe just Wisconsin?) This was another way for cross culture experiences that has been lost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sukotto
    Personally, I think that anybody that wants to learn@should be able to.
    If you want to learn you don't need to go to university. Just read books, search the Internet or whatever. University is almost only about getting a piece of paper that will make it easier for you to get a job if you decide to work for as an employee. If you are self-employed or make your own company, you don't need to go to university. In some fields, experience always teaching better than a professor or books could (e.g. for learning languages).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    University is almost only about getting a piece of paper that will make it easier for you to get a job if you decide to work for as an employee
    I know lots of people who found it hard to get a job after university, and I was one of them. I was either over-qualified or lacking in experience. I went to university for the whole experience - meeting people from different places and backgrounds, both students and professors, was just as important as what I learnt. Given the choice I would be a perpetual student.

    I don't think it is always the best universities that give you the best start. I went to Keele, which was ranked 35 by The Times, but last year produced the highest paid female, and second highest paid male graduates. It has a really nice campus, which is more like a village, and is a very friendly place for new students.

    In the UK you can't go to university for free anymore. I graduated 8 years ago. I got my fees paid and a grant for about GBP1600 each year, and could take out a loan of about GBP2000 if I wanted it. I took loans and now owe about GBP5500, which I will probably never have to pay back because you can defer payment as long as you are earning below the national average. Nowadays, students have to pay fees, they get no grant, and have to pay back their loans as soon as they are earning a little more than minimum wage. The average graduate now owes over GBP13500. If that situation doesn't create a culture of 'education for the rich' I don't know what does.

    Anyway, I agree with you Maciamo that something needs to be done. When I went to university there were so many people there who shouldn't have been because it was too easy to get in. I think the situation now is even worse - the academic standards are still not high, but the expense will be putting off some very capable people from poorer backgrounds. My solution would be to raise the academic standards and make it free for everyone that reaches those standards. Anyone who doesn't reach them can pay to finance the others.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko
    I know lots of people who found it hard to get a job after university, and I was one of them. I was either over-qualified or lacking in experience.
    All new graduates lack experience. You can be overqualified, or qualified in the wrong field. I still wonder what kind of well-paid job one can get (apart from teaching) graduating from history, geography, linguistics, etc. Likewise there aren't so many jobs in sciences, especially theoretical ones. Schools teaches us about all these subjects, but rare are the school that teach useful specialities in today's market, such as computer programming, graphic design, PC networking, accounting, law, sales techniques, marketing, recruiting, management, etc. None of these subjects were among the numerous options in my highschool, and nobody seem to tell teenagers that these are the subjects they should study if they want to find a good job easily. In other words, the schooling system is antiquated. It is made by people who were educated before the age of computers and globalisation. The only useful subject we had at school were modern languages, and the teachers were so bad and theoretical that in the end I had to learn everything by myself at university or after that to become really fluent.

    In this age of information (I am thinking to the Internet and websites such as Wikipedia in particular), school should teach more selectively what one wishes to study when one wishes to study it. There is so much knowledge in the world that what the teachers decide to teach is only a reflection of their own values and limited knowledge (I mean here that no ones has unlimited knowledge, and so no one can have a clear and fair view of what others should study). That is why I believe that schools should teach first the importance of learning, motvate the students to research on their own whatever they are interested in, and teach broader knowledge that will help them direct their lives, such as psychology (including "how to study effectively"), philosophy and logics, or tell them what subjects will be useful for their working lives, and which ones wil be useful for their view of the world and general culture.

    In the UK you can't go to university for free anymore. I graduated 8 years ago. I got my fees paid and a grant for about GBP1600 each year, and could take out a loan of about GBP2000 if I wanted it. I took loans and now owe about GBP5500, which I will probably never have to pay back because you can defer payment as long as you are earning below the national average. Nowadays, students have to pay fees, they get no grant, and have to pay back their loans as soon as they are earning a little more than minimum wage. The average graduate now owes over GBP13500. If that situation doesn't create a culture of 'education for the rich' I don't know what does.
    In Belgium there is no loan and the fee is only a registration fee varying from about GBP50 to GBP300 (75 to 500 Euro).

    I think the situation now is even worse - the academic standards are still not high, but the expense will be putting off some very capable people from poorer backgrounds. My solution would be to raise the academic standards and make it free for everyone that reaches those standards. Anyone who doesn't reach them can pay to finance the others.
    I agree. But on the other end, I still find that university is either for personal prestige (at least for people who have a low self-esteem), or to get a paper that will help the person get a job (but that is mostly for employees, i.e. not very independent and self-motivated people). It is no wonder that the Japanese put so much importance in getting a degree from a famous university and are ready to put their children in expensive private schools for that. They disregard education for itself and understand very well that a degree is a passport to a career in a big company. Because they are generally-speaking very dependent and collectivist people, being an employee in a big company is all they wish for (as opposed to self-employed). Being the exact opposite, I would much prefer learn whatever I want by myself and for myself, and make a company the way I want rather than work for a boss and be judged according to the name of the university I went to or the prestige of the company I work for.

    Therefore, free university is good, but there are other paths to success, especially in such an individualistic country as the UK (possibly the most individualistic country in the world). I wouldn't be surprised that more lower class people seek to go to university, because they tend to have an education that values less knowledge for itself, and may need this public recognition (the degree) to be confident enough in society. Personally, I don't care about paper qualifications. I decided not to study history or philosophy because I knew very well that it would be more useful to study something like Economics & Management. Yet, I know that my knowledge of history and philosophy is probably higher than many graduates in history and philosophy, because I learnt it by myself with more passion and for longer than many university graduates in these subjects.

    It is maybe difficult to measure such knowledge, but I know that if I had to be granted a degree (B.A., M.A., Ph.D.) for history or philosophy, it would be higher than for economics, or any of the foreign languages I speak (English-included). Yet, I have met non-native speakers with a M.A. in English whose English was not that good. All that to say that degrees don't really mean anything. I don't have time to sit 4 or 5 years for each subject, otherwise I would have got as many degrees I could - but I realised it is completely useless, as overqualified people usually end up unemployed (except if they lie about their qualifications and keep a low profile).

    All this to say that the connection between knowledge and work is not that strong. Most companies look for people who are good at selling (or at least willing to do it), or doing other fundamentally boring jobs such as bookkeeping/accounting, listenning to customers' complaints, working in factories, tidying up documents, solving computer problems, etc. This is the daily routine of most major compagnies, and more people are needed to do these boring jobs than for managing those who do it, think about corporate strategy, study the market, create new products, or other more motivating things.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    All new graduates lack experience.
    Yep, and employers are unrealistic in their expectations of what recruits can offer.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Schools teaches us about all these subjects, but rare are the school that teach useful specialities in today's market, such as computer programming, graphic design, PC networking, accounting, law, sales techniques, marketing, recruiting, management, etc. None of these subjects were among the numerous options in my highschool, and nobody seem to tell teenagers that these are the subjects they should study if they want to find a good job easily.
    So is education about getting a job?
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    That is why I believe that schools should teach first the importance of learning, motvate the students to research on their own whatever they are interested in, and teach broader knowledge that will help them direct their lives,
    I totally agree with this. I wonder how easy it would be in practice though?
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I still find that university is either for personal prestige (at least for people who have a low self-esteem), or to get a paper that will help the person get a job
    This is probably true of a lot of people. I prefer to think it is to get some concrete recognition for your learning. We all need some recognition sometimes.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    (but that is mostly for employees, i.e. not very independent and self-motivated people).
    i.e. the vast majority of people.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I would much prefer learn whatever I want by myself and for myself, and make a company the way I want rather than work for a boss and be judged according to the name of the university I went to or the prestige of the company I work for.
    Me too, although I did enjoy at university that you were learning straight from the mouth of an 'expert' who would answer your questions there and then. And most of us who hate to work for a boss have to stick it for a while until we are in a position to go it alone.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Therefore, free university is good, but there are other paths to success, especially in such an individualistic country as the UK (possibly the most individualistic country in the world).
    I didn't know anyone thought of the UK as 'individualistic'. It certainly doesn't feel that way to me. I feel a huge pressure to conform in all kinds of ways (which, btw, I fight).
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I wouldn't be surprised that more lower class people seek to go to university
    Don't get me on the subject of class again!
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Yet, I know that my knowledge of history and philosophy is probably higher than many graduates in history and philosophy, because I learnt it by myself with more passion and for longer than many university graduates in these subjects.
    Well I studied Philosophy and you may well know more than me! I am the same with Physics - I hated the practical side so I never studied it, but I have read a lot on the theoretical side.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    All that to say that degrees don't really mean anything.
    People who have studied hard for three or four years may find that quite insulting. Anyway, going to university is not just about the degree. You have fun, meet people and broaden your horizons while you are there, and that is also important.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    All this to say that the connection between knowledge and work is not that strong.
    I agree with that. Work is the least of my worries, but filling my brain with stuff is very important!

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    Here is an interesting article about the number of foreign students falling in US and UK universities, but increasing in Australia, New Zealand and Japan ! Basically, many people from the Middle East and SE Asia shun the US since 9/11 and the anti-Muslim movement.

    It's probably normal, as the many Asian students would rather go somewhere near (Japan, Australia, NZ), and in an English-speaking country (Japan almost qualifies, despite their poor English, because contrarily to most of Europe, most signs, documents, etc. are bilingual Japanese-English).

    Financial Times : Overseas students shun UK and US universities

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    This is interesting, but I was wondering do most European universities look at how well a student scores on an exam? The university I'm attending for example, I didn't score too well on my ACT, however throughout highschool I was involved in community servic and other activities. I'm really just curious about the standards that European univerisities may have.

    I'm not entirely surprised that students from muslim nations don't want to study in the US. There hasn't exactly been an anti-muslim movement here in the US. I guess it seems that way to people on the outside, the univerisity I'm attending for example has an Muslim student's organization and there several professors here who are muslim. They are helping students here understand that Islam doesn't equal terrorism.

    Well enough about that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ma Cherie
    This is interesting, but I was wondering do most European universities look at how well a student scores on an exam?
    Do you mean students' score in highschool to determine who can join which university ? If so, the UK does it, Belgium doesn't. Not sure about others, but most probably don't.

    I think that the exams in Belgium are made in such a way as to eliminate as many students as possible to reduce the cost (as there are no limits on the number students). So the exams are in fact very difficult and competitive. Because all universities studies are very generalist (it means that if one studies economics/management, they also need to study languages, maths, sciences, psychology, sociology, etc.), it is very difficult to graduate if one is not good at one subject. No need to try studying law if you were not good at maths or languages at school, because both are included in the law curriculum. I also hesitated to study history because one must be quite good at Latin already before entering university. It's so full of such absurdities that 1) it is unnecessarily difficult, and 2) people graduating are good generalits (e.g. to become politicians, CEO's, etc.), but poor specialists, and the market mostly needs specialists.

    That is probably why European universities get lower rating when comparing specialised knowledge with US universities (the UK is an exception, as it is a bit closer to the US system). Yet, American students that come to study in Belgium have a really tough time, because justly one must be good at much more than one's speciality to pass in Belgian universities. I think that the system in most continental European countries is very similar.

    In other words, specialists should graduate from US universities, while generalists should come from European ones. It is evident that US universities are no match to European ones for giving a broad knowledge of many subjects and good general culture. That is why I can't understand how some US cadres managed to get a job while speaking only English and having a poor geopolitical knowledge. The Japanese system is of course closer to the American one, as it was imposed by the US after WWII.

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    Ma Cherie-

    I'm really glad your school is among those attempting to educate us.
    There will probably always be some crakkkas out there, but...


    The American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee
    notes that unfortunately,
    http://www.adc.org/
    there has been an increase in hate crimes and
    discrimination against Arab Americans.
    Their 2001-2002 report is at the bottom of the left column.
    One can just read the Executive Summary near the beginning
    of the report for the statistics.


    I hope people from other countries don't abandon us.
    We need all the international contact we can get.
    I'm sure you know this - person to person is by far the
    best way to break down the ignorant barriers we have.
    I also hope more US students elect to spend a portion
    of their college career overseas.
    But, with more tuition cuts, again, it will be only
    cut down to mostly only those that can afford it.

    Which spawns ideas for other sorts of cultural exchanges...

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    Maciamo-

    I yeah, that's what I meant. You brought up an interesting point about how European univeristies are great at giving general knowledge. But there's a been a current trend here in the US. Students are no longer choosing Liberal Arts degree (which is very complex) I mean I major in economics and I am taking some general education courses, however most students here want a degree that will put them in a specific career field. I think that's why US univerisities are bad about teaching general knowledge. Because students have this attitude like: "Why do I need to know that? This has nothing to do with what I'm majoring in." I think it's sad that students aren't encouraged to be more well rounded.

    I feel the same way you do Sukotto, I like going to school with so many different kinds of people who come from all sorts of backgrounds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Being the exact opposite, I would much prefer learn whatever I want by myself and for myself, and make a company the way I want rather than work for a boss and be judged according to the name of the university I went to or the prestige of the company I work for.
    Are you sure you're happy in Japan

    From my admiteddly limited POV, I'd say you are probably bound to have tons of issues with the way japanese society works...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keoland
    Are you sure you're happy in Japan

    From my admiteddly limited POV, I'd say you are probably bound to have tons of issues with the way japanese society works...
    That's a good point. My personality (and intellectual maturity ) are probably completely incompatible with the way Japanese society works. In fact, I am planning to go back to Europe soon, as I realised that it is no good staying to long in such a childish society, despite its qualities. Japan is the world's kindergarten.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ma Cherie
    This is interesting, but I was wondering do most European universities look at how well a student scores on an exam? The university I'm attending for example, I didn't score too well on my ACT, however throughout highschool I was involved in community servic and other activities. I'm really just curious about the standards that European univerisities may have.
    I'm not entirely surprised that students from muslim nations don't want to study in the US. There hasn't exactly been an anti-muslim movement here in the US. I guess it seems that way to people on the outside, the univerisity I'm attending for example has an Muslim student's organization and there several professors here who are muslim. They are helping students here understand that Islam doesn't equal terrorism.
    Well enough about that.
    I am originally from Malaysia and it is a country with 63 percent Muslims. I heard the US ban students from Muslims countries to go there to study after the 9/11th. Not so sure about other Muslim countries but in Malaysia I heard there are people who started studying in the US but couldn’t continue because of this. Not to mention those students are Sino Malaysian, they are not even Muslims but I suppose the US becomes paranoid after the 9/11th which is predictable. So those students go elsewhere to study, most popular option is Australia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Do you mean students' score in highschool to determine who can join which university ? If so, the UK does it, Belgium doesn't. Not sure about others, but most probably don't.
    It is the same in Australia; you go on an university entrance exam after high school. That exam determines your University entrance. However there are other ways to get in Uni if you missed that entrance exam. One way is to go to TAFE (it’s a training school) first, then go into University. Another way is by interview but this is limited to certain degrees only. You can also take some kind of general knowledge test for adults to enter into Universities.


    I think that the exams in Belgium are made in such a way as to eliminate as many students as possible to reduce the cost (as there are no limits on the number students). So the exams are in fact very difficult and competitive. Because all universities studies are very generalist (it means that if one studies economics/management, they also need to study languages, maths, sciences, psychology, sociology, etc.), it is very difficult to graduate if one is not good at one subject. No need to try studying law if you were not good at maths or languages at school, because both are included in the law curriculum. I also hesitated to study history because one must be quite good at Latin already before entering university. It's so full of such absurdities that 1) it is unnecessarily difficult, and 2) people graduating are good generalits (e.g. to become politicians, CEO's, etc.), but poor specialists, and the market mostly needs specialists.

    That is probably why European universities get lower rating when comparing specialised knowledge with US universities (the UK is an exception, as it is a bit closer to the US system). Yet, American students that come to study in Belgium have a really tough time, because justly one must be good at much more than one's speciality to pass in Belgian universities. I think that the system in most continental European countries is very similar.

    In other words, specialists should graduate from US universities, while generalists should come from European ones. It is evident that US universities are no match to European ones for giving a broad knowledge of many subjects and good general culture. That is why I can't understand how some US cadres managed to get a job while speaking only English and having a poor geopolitical knowledge. The Japanese system is of course closer to the American one, as it was imposed by the US after WWII.
    The Australian Educational system is similar to the US. Woo it must be tough to graduate from an European University.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ma Cherie
    Maciamo-
    I yeah, that's what I meant. You brought up an interesting point about how European univeristies are great at giving general knowledge. But there's a been a current trend here in the US. Students are no longer choosing Liberal Arts degree (which is very complex) I mean I major in economics and I am taking some general education courses, however most students here want a degree that will put them in a specific career field. I think that's why US univerisities are bad about teaching general knowledge. Because students have this attitude like: "Why do I need to know that? This has nothing to do with what I'm majoring in." I think it's sad that students aren't encouraged to be more well rounded.
    I feel the same way you do Sukotto, I like going to school with so many different kinds of people who come from all sorts of backgrounds.
    A lot of Australians have this kind of attitude too! Very often they complain about things they feel they don't need to know that is taught in school. When speaking to my husband I feel his general knowledge is definitely higher than the average Australian.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko
    I know lots of people who found it hard to get a job after university, and I was one of them. I was either over-qualified or lacking in experience. I went to university for the whole experience - meeting people from different places and backgrounds, both students and professors, was just as important as what I learnt. Given the choice I would be a perpetual student.
    I know an architect master graduate who can't find job in Australia for 5 years.

    I don't think it is always the best universities that give you the best start. I went to Keele, which was ranked 35 by The Times, but last year produced the highest paid female, and second highest paid male graduates. It has a really nice campus, which is more like a village, and is a very friendly place for new students.
    Most Asians I know believe the higher the rank of the University, the better the job prospects. I know one family who got a son who got in Medicine as the dux of his year in NZ. His dad after hearing NZ's Universities are not rank the highest in the world tried to change him to Oxford.


    In the UK you can't go to university for free anymore. I graduated 8 years ago. I got my fees paid and a grant for about GBP1600 each year, and could take out a loan of about GBP2000 if I wanted it. I took loans and now owe about GBP5500, which I will probably never have to pay back because you can defer payment as long as you are earning below the national average. Nowadays, students have to pay fees, they get no grant, and have to pay back their loans as soon as they are earning a little more than minimum wage. The average graduate now owes over GBP13500. If that situation doesn't create a culture of 'education for the rich' I don't know what does.
    I think there was a time Australian Universities were free for locals. It got more and more expensive overtime to go to Universities, but if you are a citizen or a PR holder it is still much cheaper than what the overseas' students have to pay.


    Anyway, I agree with you Maciamo that something needs to be done. When I went to university there were so many people there who shouldn't have been because it was too easy to get in. I think the situation now is even worse - the academic standards are still not high, but the expense will be putting off some very capable people from poorer backgrounds. My solution would be to raise the academic standards and make it free for everyone that reaches those standards. Anyone who doesn't reach them can pay to finance the others.
    Some students were protesting about the rise of costs of Universities over the years, but the labour party keeps on loosing to John Howard, I suppose other domestic issues must have been the reason Howard is still our Prime Minister.

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    I found that article on Cafe Babel : (cafebabel.com/en/article.asp?T=T&Id=12804) The first paragraph says it all.

    I was an Erasmus student in Bologna,' says Louise, a 24 year old English student. 'In Italy it's all completely different from England. Whereas in London there were never more than thirty students in a class, in Italy there were no limits and that's without mentioning the tutors. My Erasmus co-ordinator worked at another university as well so she could only see us once a month. The queue was so long that it was impossible to get to speak to her.' It would be easy to pass these comments off as the usual complaints that foreign students have when they first arrive in Italy, but, actually, the reality of university life here is shocking. Professors not showing up because they work in four different universities or have two jobs, researchers who are doing everything, staff absence and embarassing levels of disorganisation are just some of the problems that millions of students face every single day.
    I have experienced the same during my Erasmus in Belgium. It was maybe not as bad but definitely reminds me of that university I attended. We didn't have tutors at all. Professors were always 10 to 30 minutes late. The auditorium was overcrowded. It was sometimes hard to find a place to sit, and at the 30th row you couldn't hear much of what the professor said. Terrible, really. And the the "cherry on the cake" was that Belgian students party almost every night and if you don't you will end up being waken up in your dorms anyway. No wonder Belgian universities score so bad in international comparisons.

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    Lucy Wadham has pinpointed an essential aspect of the problem in the case of French universities in her book The Secret Life of France (p. 132). The situation is identical in Belgium, and similar in many other continental European countries. Here is an abstract :

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucy Wadham
    Like most of France's public universities, Paris 8 has no selection criteria. Anyone with a baccalaureate can enter, but few stay the course. The drop-out rate for philosophy at the Sorbonne in the first year, for instance, is huge; only about 30 per cent of those admitted go through to the second year. Students are left entirely to their own devices and receive no guidance from their professors, who tend to behave like rock stars, entirely inaccessible for advice. Magisterial lectures are held in vast, over-crowded auditoriums. As with the school system, only the self-motivators who are naturally rigorous and conscientious survive. [...] The French university system is a matter of sink or swim. If you can stay afloat for three years - and those who do so invariably go on to do a Masters, since a simple Bachelor's degree carries little value on the French job market - then you will receive a first-rate, though entirely impractical, education that has hardly changed since the eighteenth century.
    She has worked as an assistant professor at the University of Paris 8. I can tell you from my experience that it is exactly how she describes it. It is the opposite of the system of Oxford (where Wadham was educated) and Cambridge, where students are closely monitored by a personal tutor, and lectures are held in small groups to assure the accessibility of the professor.

    The second problem is that the French education system is too theoritical and detached from the reality of the modern world and the demand from the job market. It is not surprising that a high percentage of French graduates cannot find a job.

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