OPINION

Lost respect

…There seem to be two options available as ways for universities to restore their lost respectability. The one requires state involvement and political initiative. The entire system, including the government and the political opposition, teachers and university professors, must acknowledge its failure and admit that, with very few exceptions, the university education system is sorely deficient. Subsequently, a national strategy would have to to be mapped out, on a 15-year perspective, with the aim of bringing about radical restructuring based upon new foundations in line with European standards and needs. Such a venture would, of course, require huge funds that are currently unavailable as well as an overall general consensus that the plans would be strictly followed. The second option goes through the market. Although the new constitution forbids the operation of private universities, the State could hammer out a very specific plan allowing the establishment of private university institutions using very strict criteria and high standards, and leaving the market to be the only arbiter of their performance. In this way, state universities would feel the pressure of the competition and good schools would be less congested; thereby being able to improve their performance, and thousands of students wouldn’t have to emigrate except for post-graduate studies. Both paths are beset with major difficulties. They both require visionary proponents and radical changes in deeply rooted attitudes… For the Council of Europe, the talks signal a breakthrough in the island’s longstanding division.