garicano2_tom werner_getty Images_student Tom Werner/Getty Images

Europe’s World-Lagging Universities Need Increased Funding

Brexit has revealed a neglected truth that is highly inconvenient to European policymakers: the European Union’s remaining universities are nowhere to be found at the top of world rankings. Unfortunately, EU officials appear to have no interest in acknowledging the problem, much less addressing it.

BRUSSELS – One of the many negative consequences of Brexit is that what was an educational superpower on the global stage has become a second-rate contender. With the United Kingdom’s departure, the European Union has lost first-rate universities such as Cambridge, Oxford, UCL, Imperial College London, and my old home, the London School of Economics.

Worse, Brexit has revealed a truth that is highly inconvenient to European policymakers: the EU’s remaining universities are nowhere to be found at the top of world rankings. In the 2020 QS World University Ranking, the top EU university is at number 50 (Delft University of Technology). In the Academic Ranking of World Universities, the EU’s top representative is the University of Paris-Sud, at 37. In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, it is the University of Munich, at 32. By contrast, Switzerland, China, Japan, and the rest of East Asia’s developed economies all have universities near the top of some or all of the major rankings.

The most common response I have encountered among EU officials is denial of reality. When challenged, top European Commission officials simply say: “I don’t believe in rankings,” and extol the wonders of EU member states’ universities.

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