European universities lagging behind

By David Brand U-WIRE

BOSTON – Contrary to numerous reports that American universities are falling behind other foreign institutions, a recent study titled “The Economics of Knowledge: Why Education is Key for Europe’s Success” reports that it is, in fact, colleges in Europe that have lost ground.

The report, authored by economist Andreas Schleicher, found the United States spends 50 percent more on each college student than European nations, although European universities charge less on average than American schools.

While the percentage of students qualified to attend or who do attend institutions of higher learning has continued to increase in the United States as well as in many Asian nations, the percentage has remained stagnant or even decreased in a large portion of European countries, the study shows.

Meanwhile, the number of American students working overseas has increased, according to Harvard economics professor Aleh Tsyvinski.

Late last fall, two representatives from companies in Singapore visited Boston University, showing “extreme interest” in hiring American students, according to Halliday.

When comparing American and European education, Tsyvinski praised the “liberal arts flavor” found in U.S. universities that gives American college students an edge over European students.

Tsyvinski said that directly following graduation, European students may have an edge over American students in the specific field in which they studied, but American students generally have better ability to adapt because of their liberal arts background.

He added that the top universities in the United States are superior to Europe’s higher quality institutions.

Tsyvinski pointed to Germany, which he said has many great schools but none comparable to the premier colleges in America.

“It is common for the best European scientists to become professors in the U.S.,” he said, adding there has recently been a definite push in European universities – especially in England – to emphasize greater liberal arts education to compete with the best schools in the United States.