Monday, May 5, 2014

The Failure of University Reform

The reform of the universities undertaken by the Sarkozy administration under minister Valérie Pécresse had some promising features. Decentralization of university administration might have led to more efficient management and greater circulation of scholars among universities. But to have succeeded, funds would have had to be made available to university administrators. This did not happen. The result is predictable: strapped universities, left to their own devices, have no choice but to close important facilities, such as libraries. They are expected to make do with what funds they have, with no emergency backstop. Decentralized management is a fine idea if decentralized fundraising yields necessary funding. Without it, failure is inevitable.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This notice reminds me of the essay of U. Eco of many years ago who commented on the restricted hours of European libraries. I know of no French university library that is open on Sundays or past 9 pm on any day. Using the library as a place to hang out, socialize and make chance encounters with people or books and ideas is not a big part of French university life--instead there are cafes with, today, polluting music videos or news streams emanating from wall-mounted TVs instead of cigarette smoke, it's true, but still not exactly an environment conducive to fostering the life-of-the-mind. The day France decides to fund its libraries in a way that allows for open-stack browsing 24/7 or even 20/6, will mark a great leap forward for the country. But I'm not holding my breath.

Vintage Maison said...

My son is doing English at Fac, just finishing his second year. He has yet to pick up a book - everything is on the internet. So different from when I was a student

Anonymous said...

Vintage Maison: This is not due to the internet and "today" vs. "when we were in college". American college students still pick up books.* In fact, they pick up lots of books and read them for seminar, they write research papers using their librairies, etc.





* Well, apparently, not business majors, or not much. :p

DavidinParis said...

One day I will write a column on this whole debacle. Right now, I am knee deep in the problems this whole situation has created. Good idea, badly executed. In the wrong hands--underlying philosophy of most French academics is not to have to compete for research funds.

This whole situation, coupled with (as the article points out) with the CDD problem (Sauvadet) means that young non-tenured scientists have just 3 years to make their mark or leave the country or quit science.

This puts France's future in peril more than the risks of temporary contracts.

D