La crise d’identité des universités européennes

MADRID – Le monde de l’enseignement supérieur en Europe se trouve aujourd’hui dans un état de profonde indécision. Quel devrait être la mission première des universités – la recherche, la formation professionnelle ou l’intégration sociale ? Les gouvernements devraient-ils investir davantage en enseignement supérieur pour soutenir la croissance économique à long terme ? Doit-on laisser les universités à elles-mêmes, libres de se concurrencer entre elles pour assurer leur survie (ou précipiter leur disparition) dans l’arène mondiale des études supérieures ?

Outre les débats portant sur leur rôle futur, les universités d’Europe ne doivent pas oublier leur identité propre, leurs traditions et leur conscience sociale. La tâche ne sera pas une sinécure. Les administrateurs d’université doivent composer avec des pressions venant d’en haut – les institutions européennes et les instances nationales – et avec leurs propres chercheurs, professeurs et étudiants.

En plus, le cadre du débat devient de plus en plus flou. D’un côté, les universités respectent leurs ententes à long terme avec l’État ; de l’autre côté, ils sont confrontés à des réformateurs doctrinaires qui recherchent des solutions fondées sur le marché qui prônent la concurrence entre les établissements, favorisent la mobilité des effectifs et des étudiants et mettent l’accent sur un apprentissage adapté aux étudiants.

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