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SIIA Council Member Reuben Wong discusses EU's education funding [Lianhe Zaobao, 2 Dec 2010]

Updated On: Dec 02, 2010

SIIA's Council Member Dr. Reuben Wong discusses the EU's education spending in light of the financial crisis resultant budget cuts:

" The European governments have cut their budgets for almost everything, including national defense... The current economic crisis also gave European governments an opportunity to cut education funding. In the past, this would have been deemed politically impossible. Most Europeans view free (or heavily subsidized) college education as a universal right, but this notion is slowly changing.

Britain pioneered cuts on allowance and increasing college tuition, a move which some say reflects the true cost of education, and is closer to the American education model.

This is not likely to cause the student protests of 1968. There is no large political/social/cultural issues to address now, unlike in the past when there was the anti-Vietnam War movement or sexual liberation revolution. The more crucial issue now is: since Europeans countries cannot continue to shoulder the burden of these generous benefits, are Europeans willing to accept the painful reduction? Cutting education funding or increasing tuition fees may result in an outflow of students and even professors. 

At present, education in Europe is very attractive, even if you have to pay school fees, as fees are much lower than in the USA. If European students have to pay market price university fees, they may consider studying abroad.

In addition, Europe's doctoral research funds cannot compare with the research kitty in USA and Asia. As for educators, the salary for professors in most EU states is already lower than in the USA or even some Asian universities. Cutting wages may lead to a European brain drain."

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