The current strike in France is a reminder that higher education is under significant pressure in many countries. On the surface, the issues in each country seem dissimilar, but a demand for transparency and accountability is common.

Italy: Excerpt from an article from The Economist

“Most Italians point instead to the overweening power of the baroni (barons), or tenured professors with the power of academic life and death. Many treat their faculties as personal fiefs. Nepotism and favouritism are rife: only this week news emerged of a university rector who, the day before he retired on October 31st, signed a decree to make his son a lecturer. Research by students at Federico II University in Naples found that 15% of teachers had a relative on the university staff. At Palermo University, as many as 230 teachers are reported to be related to other teachers.”

France: Excerpt from a report by University World News

“President Sarkozy also infuriated researchers during the official launch of a committee of inquiry into future national strategies for research and innovation, due to report in the spring. In a forceful speech, he stressed the need to modernise France’s system of research whose present state he described as a “disastrous organisation” that was structurally too complicated and wasted resources.”

Canada: Excerpt from a report from the Canadian Council on Learning

“It is both lamentable and irresponsible that Canada, among all OECD countries, has the weakest data on education and has developed neither a pan-Canadian skills agenda, nor goals and measures for post-secondary education,” Jim Knight, President of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, said on behalf of Canadian colleges across the country.

USA: Commentary on the Spelling Commission on Higher Education by Kevin Carey

” . . the commission had it right: Accountability in American higher education is largely a myth. Many of the systems, relationships, and arrangements often cited as elements in higher education’s “accountability system” are no such thing. As a result, higher education is stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of attack and defense, of accountability conversations that founder on basic differences of definition.”

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