Tribune. Let us dare to create real universities of the European Union (EU), powerful, non-virtual and full-fledged, to help meet the contemporary challenges facing Europe!
With a central campus, unique governance and budget, each of these full-service universities would benefit from three or four offshore campuses spread across the EU, allowing mobility and political acceptability. In practice, the public funding base for each of them would be European, under the sole tutelage of the EU to facilitate governance. As Patrick Aebischer, visionary ex-president of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, puts it: “It takes three things to become a great university of excellence: 10,000 to 15,000 maximum enrolled students, 500 laboratories and a budget of 1 billion euros. Below that, you have very little chance of making it into the top 10 of the international rankings. “
These EU universities would not change any of the national systems with whose universities they would collaborate, but would allow innovation by acting directly at European level. Their creation would be based on remarkable European scientific precedents (the European Research Council, CERN, European molecular biology laboratories) or on industrial successes, such as Airbus. These EU universities could quickly take their place among the world’s leading universities in terms of training, research and innovation – the three essential missions of any university – while giving a strong signal of unity and ambition for the ‘EU.
Such a creation would make it possible to weigh in the world competition in the scientific and industrial fields. Europe must build universities as powerful as American and Asian universities and, tomorrow, Indian ones, to achieve the scientific and technological competitiveness essential for sovereignty and innovation. This ambition requires the release of significant resources, difficult to achieve at national level, but which are within reach for the economic power that is the EU.
The creation of EU universities would avoid the crumbling of funding, which is not very conducive to long-term scientific development, in particular for expensive experimental sciences, such as life sciences. The difficulties encountered in producing vaccines against Covid-19 in Europe, the stranglehold of the GAFA on artificial intelligence, American space launchers and, tomorrow, the controlled fusion resulting from a spin-off [création d’une nouvelle entreprise] of MIT long before the conclusion of the international thermonuclear experimental reactor project supported by European nations, nourish a feeling of European international downgrading. In this context, the creation of EU universities would constitute an ambitious response in scientific, technological and industrial matters.
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“Let’s create universities in the European Union”