Europe: Poor State of Higher EducationEconomist on higher education
Universities are a mess across Europe. European countries spend only 1.1% of their GDP on higher education, compared with 2.7% in the United States. American universities have between two and five times as much to spend per student as European universities, which translates into smaller classes, better professors and higher-quality research. The European Commission estimates that 400,000 EU-born scientific researchers are now working in the United States. Most have no plans to return. Europe produces only a quarter of the American number of patents per million people. It needs to ask itself not whether it can overtake the United States as the world's top knowledge economy by 2010, but how it can avoid being overtaken by China and other Asian tigers. India has two valuable things going for it. One is its collection of elite institutions. For decades, India has been pouring resources into the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and, above all, the Indian Institutes of Technology. These institutions take their pick from an army of candidates every year, with 180,000 hopefuls taking the screening test for around 3,500 places in the seven IITs. “They are a class apart, like Oxford and Cambridge,” says P.V. Indiresan, an expert on universities. In higher education, as in so much else, China is visibly pulling ahead of India. The Chinese are engaged in the biggest university expansion in history. The majority of doctorates earned in China between 1992 and 2003 were in practical subjects, which attract the brightest students: engineering (38% of the total), natural sciences (22%) and medicine (15%). Top universities are a valuable asset in the global war for talent too. America's great research universities enable it to recruit more foreign PhD students than the rest of the OECD put together. And a striking number of these people stay put: in 1998-2001, about two-thirds of foreigners who earned American doctorates in science and engineering said they had “firm plans” to stay, up from 57% in 1994-97.
Mark Steyn: By the time Germans decide, it'll be too late
If you want the state of Europe in a nutshell, skip the German election coverage and consider this news item from the south of France: a fellow in Marseilles is being charged with fraud because he lived with the dead body of his mother for five years in order to continue receiving her pension of 700 euros a month. She was 94 when she croaked, so she'd presumably been enjoying the old government cheque for a good three decades or so, but her son figured he might as well keep the money rolling in until her second century and, with her corpse tucked away under a pile of rubbish in the living room, the female telephone voice he put on for the benefit of the social services office was apparently convincing enough. As the Reuters headline put it: "Frenchman lived with dead mother to keep pension." By 2050, there will be more and wealthier Americans, and fewer and poorer Europeans. In the 14th century, it took the Black Death to wipe out a third of Europe's population. In the course of the 21st century, Germany's population will fall by over 50 per cent to some 38 million or lower - killed not by disease or war but by the Eutopia to which Mr Schröder and his electorate are wedded. On Sunday, Germany's voters decided that, like that Frenchman, they can live with the stench of death as long as the government benefits keep coming.