Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Two Contributions to the Discussion

La Vie des idées has two useful articles.

The first, by Gaëtane Richard-Nihoul, analyzes the Lisbon Treaty.

The second, by Éric Maurin, discusses formulas for financing university educations in Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere, and suggests that France needs to consider a system of tuition loans with deferred repayments. Of course the very idea of tuition payment and rationing of university access by imposition of fees would be greeted in France with howls of protest, even if the payments were presented as a tax on future earnings to be borne by the beneficiaries of the proceeds. The idea that "free" public goods are not free when paid for out of national income is still greeted as radically Anglo-Saxon. Nor is the idea that returns to higher education are arguably a major source of inequality in today's world a familiar one in France. "Human capital" formation is nevertheless promoted, rightly, as a major comparative advantage of the developed world in its competition with the low-wage countries of the developing world. No industrialized country has yet to come up with a satisfactory way of dealing with this problem. In the United States, competition for access to "elite" private schools and universities has escalated to absurd levels, and tuitions keep rising. But in France, "free" access to higher education simply masks enormous failure rates and a de facto inegalitarian system of Grandes Écoles and ordinary universities. Maurin's article looks at policies that fall midway between these extremes. (The Stafford Loan system in the US bears some similarities to the systems discussed but has numerous shortcomings.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to Richard-Nihoul's interesting article. I particularly agree with his view that the constitutional aspects of the treaty need to be more clearly separated from the legislative ones.