July 9, 2012

A. Who won the Big One?

A reader asks:
"What I don't get is how pretty much no Continental universities really have that super brand name status. It's basically only Oxford, Cambridge, and American universities."

I touched upon this in VDARE.com in 2008:
American colleges weren't always the top dogs. The modern university was largely invented in Germany. At the beginning of the last century, the world's leading universities were mostly German, such as the University of Göttingen, which had hosted such professors and students as Gauss, Schopenhauer, Metternich, Riemann, Bismarck, Heine, and both Humboldts. Today, though, the highest-ranking German college on The Times [of London] Higher Education Top 100 list is Heidelberg way down at 60th. 
... Why are German colleges now so weak? They have yet to recover from expelling their Jews in 1933, and from the post-WWII emasculation of their traditional elitism in the name of egalitarianism. Entrance standards and tuition are kept low, and students frequently hang around aimlessly for a decade. 
The once-great universities of France, such as the ancient University of Paris (Sorbonne), were similarly wrecked by adopting leftist admissions policies in response to the May 1968 student protests. The AP reported on Nicolas Sarkozy's hopes of Americanizing French higher education: 
"The Sorbonne, France's most renowned university, has no cafeteria, no student newspaper, no varsity sports and no desk-side plugs for laptop users. It also costs next-to-nothing to attend, and admission is open to everyone who has finished high school." 
Today, no French college makes the world top 25 and only the tiny École Normale Supérieure and the small École Polytechnique, from which the French ruling class are recruited, are in the top 100. 
In contrast to the dismal damage done to European higher education by post-WWII leftism, perhaps the only great American college ruined in the name of egalitarianism was City College of New York, where the neoconservatives of the 1970s had been the Trotskyites of the 1930s. Nine future Nobel Laureates graduated from CCNY between 1933 and 1950. Sadly, as Wikipedia reports: 
"During a 1969 takeover of South campus, under threat of a race riot, African American and Puerto Rican activists and their white allies demanded, among other policy changes, that City College implement an aggressive affirmative action program … The administration of CCNY at first balked at the demands, but instead, came up with an open admissions or open-access program … Beginning in 1970, the program opened doors to college to many who would not otherwise have been able to attend college, but came at the cost of City College's academic standing and New York City's fiscal health." 
But, despite the leftism endemic in American higher education, practically every other famous college, such as Berkeley, home to the most notorious protests of the 1960s, had the good sense not to practice what they preached. 
Rather than follow CCNY's disastrous route, they made the cheaper choice of paying off minorities with affirmative action. Simultaneously, and paradoxically, they became even more IQ elitist in choosing mainstream applicants. Today, Berkeley gets ten applications for every spot in its freshman class. The typical Berkeley freshman has a high school GPA of 4.25 on a 0 to 4 scale (an A in an Advanced Placement course counts as a 5), with an SAT score at the 94th percentile among test takers.

Since then, I've come up with an even more reductionist answer:

Q. Why are Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge today so much more prestigious than Gottingen, Sorbonne, Padua, and Salamanca?

A. Who won the Big One?

That, by the way, is the answer to a lot of questions about 21st Century phenomenon. 

Keep in mind that it wasn't just that Germany and Italy lost in 1945, France lost in 1940, and Spain sympathized with the losers. 

Universities are, deep down, rightist institutions: elitist and conservative. Because the Continentals lost in the name of Fascism, there wasn't much resistance to the old-fashioned Marxist Left proletarianizing the grand old universities on the Continent in the post-War era. 

In contrast, the Anglo-Americans won in the name of Democracy, so they kept their elitist and conservative universities pretty much unchanged. In fact, as I'll discuss in Taki's Magazine Tuesday night, the American government poured vast riches into the elite colleges to fight the Cold War. 

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is a bit over at Kausfiles right now about the so-called credentialing bubble, prompted by a (basically silly) editorial in N+1 that urged America's merit elite to "burn their masters' like draft cards"

Anonymous said...

The Sorbonne, France's most renowned university, has no cafeteria, no student newspaper, no varsity sports and no desk-side plugs for laptop users.

The American college life/student experience derives from the American boarding prep school, which derives from the British boarding public schools and British universities.

Did the Continental universities ever have a similar college environment? If so, how similar and prevalent was it? My impression is that they've always had more of an urban, professional environment, rather than a collegial, boarding school type one.

Anonymous said...

My sister got a hard science ug degree from CHYMPS. She was shocked by how much better the competition was at ENS when she got her graduate degree there. Testing and tracking works. She did say she was better at writing, organizing projects, etc. but that they were stunning in their ability to nail down incredible amounts of technical information. And yes, she is a woman, but she had a fantastic SATM and she killed in her science major at an elite college. I don't think gender is the issue in this case. It's that the French model just works differently from the American model.

Does it work? I don't think they're complaining: Its alumni have provided France with scores of philosophers, writers, scientists, statesmen and even churchmen. Among them are 12 Nobel Prize laureates, 10 Fields Medalists, 1 Gauss Prize laureate, and 2 recipients of the John Bates Clark Medal in Economics.


Apparently Harvard faculty wanted to use the ENS model (testing) but the board of trustees demurred in deference to alumni/donors who didn't want their children competing with poor immigrants (i.e. Jews). In France it doesn't matter if your dad is a billionaire or the prime minister. You have to earn your way into ENS.

dearieme said...

You shouldn't overlook the fact that if you study or work at Oxford etc, you do so in the lingua franca of the day. Being Heidelberg etc is rather like a University in the Middle Ages not teaching in Latin.

Simon in London said...

We get a lot of excellent European students coming to my UK University. I get the impression that their secondary/high school education is much better than the terrible UK State system, but that their Universities are much worse.

My University devotes a lot of resources to taking the under-educated products of most British schools, and over three years turning them into actual students. Oxbridge don't have to bother doing that; it helps that half their intake are privately educated. European students who do three-year degrees with us come in often writing better English than the native population.

BTW we also get quite a lot of Canadians. Is Canadian higher ed not so great?

Volksverhetzer said...

Is there any objective proof of elite universities actually being better than ordinary universities? I also take issue on the German universities ever being elite institutions. From what I have read, German universities have always been more or less open for anybody that have passed the Gymnasium. IIRC the professors formally still have the choice to let in anybody they want.

It used to be, and it is still normal for gifted students to change university, so that they can take their final years under a professor that is famous in some specialized field.

To get back on track, I know students from elite universities have it easier when finding work, and that both their students and their professors in general are smarter than the average for normal universities, but is this always an advantage for an up and coming student?

I have gone to both Norwegian and German universities, and have taken classes with students from MIT, Cambridge and ENA.

First, the elite students did not stand out from the better students from normal universities, except that they worked harder and were more conform.

Secondly, from what I got to know from them, students at German or Scandinavian universities have a lot more free time, that they can spend on partying or by reading extra curricular books of their own choosing.

I am also not sure if having elite universities is good for the country, as both Germany and the Scandinavian countries, are richer and better run, than both the USA,GB and France.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's funny how so many lefty professors at elitist universities couldn't give a fig about 'equality' and 'social justice' when it comes to admission grades - they make Donald Trump look distinctly egalitarian.
Also in the UK, 'comprehensive schools' (ie mixed ability, no acaemic selction allowed) were foisted on Britain by lefties n the Labour Party. Funny how they never managed to even broach the subject of 'comprehensive universities' (the justification, in fact, is stronger than with high schools). The academics would have bitten their silly, little lefty heads off - in a nasty, pithy, snobby, pompous way that only British intellectuals (eg Richard Dawkins, the 'Bloomsbury set'), can do.

Anonymous said...

One thing brick and mortar colleges has over online schools:

Cornell University Professor's Outburst at a Student's 'Overly Loud' Yawn

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuLaQoQP9oo

Anonymous said...

Cornell has a School of Industrial and Labor Relations, a College of Human Ecology ("The college is a unique compilation of studies on consumer science, nutrition, health economics, public policy, human development and textiles, each part of the discipline of human ecology."), and a School of Hotel Administration.

The hotel admin school and the industrial/labor relations school were probably thought to be cutting edge ideas 80 years ago, but they sound really lame today.

Volksverhetzer said...

"Does it work? I don't think they're complaining: Its alumni have provided France with scores of philosophers, writers, scientists, statesmen and even churchmen."

ENS and ENA works for the alumni, since they usually have great careers. I don't agree that it works for France though.

1. To become a student, you have to spend most of your youth studying, meaning that you don't get the smart ones that spend their youth socializing.

2. ENS and ENA students know they are the elite, so they often look down on students from other universities.The ENS and ENA alumni are also preferred for high status jobs, so they get resented by a lot of the rest of the student body.

3. Elites usually live in a bubble, separated from the problems and worries of the normal population. This FMPOV is not ideal, as humans are most concerned about the problems they themselves experience, making the elite mostly focus on elite problems, rather than on the problems normal French people have.

Immigration is one such problem, where the elite meets well behaved and intelligent brown people, and are mostly concerned about not being branded a racist, rather than thinking about the long term consequences for the French people.

Another problem is centralization,where the Paris elite thinks it solves many problems for them, to have everything decided in Paris. This creates a lot of anger in the Provinces, as they are pissed about important decisions being taken over their head.

If France were a model nation, I could agree with the French elitism, but, that is not really the case. Since France started this process under Napoleon, they have gone from number 1 in the world, to the not so great country that it is today.

Anonymous said...

I've read a different explanation for Germany's lack of world class institutions as relating to WWII.

Germany was the number two exporting country in the world last year I believe (the list was 1. China (cheaper low tech products primarily --- think Wal-Mart though that is changing); 2. Germany (high tech products-- think BMW and Siemens, etc. …); 3. U.S.A. (financial products like insurance and banking, services like Mickey D and other retail chains, Entertainment like Disney et. al, with some high tech thrown in like Apple, Boeing, and GM with nuclear reactors etc….); and 4. Japan (mostly high tech).

The explanation I read for this is that after the war German schools focused on "practical" solutions to problems and focused on applied engineering to the exclusion of pure research for the purpose of rebuilding its infrastructure that had been shattered by the war (maybe the same is true of Japan).

Hence, pure research for the sake of research suffered and in a certain sense the German schools are not considered "elite" in that way.

"German Engineering" is a catch word for a reason.

Most scholars say the German economic miracle started in 1945 (though some say 1933 with the Nazi pubic works projects that reduced unemployment from 34% to a negligible amount in the space of a couple of years... the date on this second claim kind of reminds me of the Spain Golden Age that started in 1500 after the exodus of a certain group of people big on rent seeking and financial trading but not building ... hmmm … better not go there…).

Anonymous said...

"The once-great universities of France, such as the ancient University of Paris (Sorbonne), were similarly wrecked by adopting leftist admissions policies in response to the May 1968 student protests."

You can thank the scotch-irish Daniel Cohn-Bendit for the May 1968 student protests that ruined the De Gaulle conservative government.

socks said...

"I am also not sure if having elite universities is good for the country, as both Germany and the Scandinavian countries, are richer and better run, than both the USA,GB and France."

What metric? By GDP(PPP) per capita, the US is ahead, except for Norway, but that's due to a disproportionate share of north sea oil money.

guest007 said...

Steve

You should write about the article in the Atlantic "Why Women Still Can’t Have It All" http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still-can-8217-t-have-it-all/9020/

What everyone seems to be ignoring is that the Princeton University professor, dean, and former political appointee at the State Department needed to be back home to spending more time with her children not because her sons were failing school or using drugs but because the professor's children had fallen off the track of getting into an Ivy League school.

Dr Anne-Marie Slaughter wanted to to spend more time with her children so that Dr Slaughter could go all "Tiger Mom" on her children so that her children will be admitted to Princeton/Harvard Yale. Image the embarrassment of Dr Slaughter if her children ended up attending Rutgers.

Of course, what was also not mentioned in the article is that being on the fast track means eliminating the idea of grandchildren. Getting married late (after 35 years of age) in order to advance your career and then putting your children on the same academic/career path means one can expect one's first grandchild when being 75 years old or older.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Anglo American schools are better because they are being rated by Anglo American publications that employ Anglo American graduates who write for an Anglo American audience.

Also who cares? The French are the only competent producers of nuclear reactors. It does not matter how good Stanford is. Compare US with foreign automakers. Airbus came out of nowhere to challenge Boeing.

And finally US universities hire ringers. If you go to a university in Brazil, you will find their students are Brazilian. The backbone of US universities are foreign nationals, mainly Chinese and Indians.

Anonymous said...

Spain never had a great education system anyway...Maybe is the fault of the Inquisitiom?

fondatori said...

'Elite' universities are about networking, not a better education. I suppose at Oxford and Cambridge for example you only have access to the English elite and maybe the younger sons of some of the less impressive Middle Eastern Sheiks, while at the US Universities you can get relationships with people who may lead a country that is a real power.

Henry Canaday said...

How close Germany came to winning WW II also scared the wits out of a lot of American educators, which prompted men like Harvard’s James Conant to make our colleges more meritocratic in both admissions and education. We weren’t going to beat the Russians with either mostly legacy admissions or open admissions and remedial math classes.

Germany, defeated and dependent on the U.S. for defense technology, could relax, as much as Germans ever do, and work steadily on simply becoming rich and happy.

Anonymous said...

"Universities are, deep down, rightist institutions: elitist and conservative."

The traditional university used to be conservative. Its main role was to preserve and pass down received knowledge. They were like monasteries.
But the modern university as developed in Germany, while elitist, was not conservative in spirit. Though it brought together the best minds, its purpose was to open up new avenues of thought than just preserve and pass down old knowledge. They were elitist and 'radical'.

"Because the Continentals lost in the name of Fascism, there wasn't much resistance to the old-fashioned Marxist Left proletarianizing the grand old universities on the Continent in the post-War era."

This may be the case with Cambridge and Oxford, but I'm not so sure this was the reason in the case of Harvard and Yale. Was there any comparable demand for democratization of elite universities in the US? There was certainly student protest in the 1960s, but were there demands among the student populace to dismantle the entire system? I don't think so. American youths seemed to rebel more in the form of "let's rock n roll" than "let's batter down the walls of the elites". This could be because popular culture was bigger in the US(and UK via the Beatles and Stones) than in Continental Europe, at least in the 60s. Since non-Anglo youths tended to be better-read, they tended to be more ideological. So, there's a paradox. Continental universities became more egalitarian because the youths of those nations were more intellectual and better-read; since the prevailing intellectual giants of post WWII era were guys like Jean-Paul Sartre, young people in Continental Europe were more likely to absorb leftist ideas. In America, the intellectual class read intellectual stuff while everyone else watched TV. In continental Europe, even working class youths could be reading intellectual stuff, and so there would have been more ideological consciousness among them as well. As for UK, there was clearly a class rebellion in the 60s. So, why were Cambridge and Oxford spared? Maybe Brits, though rebellious about class, were less ideological about it due to its history of empiricism. Brits, favoring facts and logical arguments, could have been, by and large, less affected by grand radical theories that became so fashionable in Europe. Also, maybe its long tradition of relative tolerance had a way of taming radicalism. After all, even Karl Marx died rather peacefully in UK. In UK, he was less involved in activism and more into writing and museum going.

Anyway, it could be American youths were less politically angry since their rebelliousness had a cultural outlet in rock concerts and etc.
Also, the American cult of equality and democracy made everyone feel more equal, and so there was bound to be less revolt against the elites. In Europe, many young people saw the elites as being of the Old Order. In America, even the elites were seen as 'one of us'.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough, much of the rebellious ideology among American youths in the 1960s originated from Jewish-European emigres such as Herbert Marcuse. And yet, American Jewish intellectuals also defended elite institutions of higher education(as maybe bastions of rising Jewish power). Maybe all those Jews who saw what happened to the City Colleges of NY didn't want it to happen to higher colleges that they wanted to enter; Jews wanted to topple the Wasps and control the top institutions, not be toppled by the mob themselves. Jewish mind has long been dualistic: pushing radical ideology in the name of the people AND fearing the masses with pitchforks.
(Does Europe have something comparable to city or community colleges? Maybe the absence of such led to elite colleges having to open up to the masses. In America, even if you don't go to a top college, you can go to a city college). Anyway, there could have been less resentment against elite colleges in the US cuz there's less snobbery associated with higher education. Though Harvard grads may be proud, they aren't seen as anything special. But in Continental Europe, someone who graduated from a top college might have been a greater object of hostility in the new order, and so maybe it led to more rebellion.

Another reason could be the technological/scientific basis of American education. When it comes to stuff like physics, chemistry, math, and engineering, only experts will do. But in Europe, colleges tended to stress stuff like philosophy, humanities, and the like--and they were all tied to ideology one way or another. With the politicization of culture, it was easier for cultural institutions to fall to egalitarianism than it was for technological institutions. Even in the US, the leftist ideologues have made the greatest inroads into stuff like English department, art department, anthropology, and etc. to the point where they are nearly worthless. If American education retains its edge, it's in technical fields. Since continental universities were more humanities-oriented, they were bound to be more affected by philosophical ideas prevalent after WWII. This is another paradox. European universities looked down on the use of colleges for vocational training(engineering, business schools, etc)--the dominant mode in post-war US--as vulgar and populist , and instead emphasized the sort of learning--philosophy, arts, literature, etc--that elevated minds-and-souls, but it just so happened that such fields had been taken over by leftists who thought EVERYTHING IS POLITICAL. There is no leftist way to teach engineering, but there is a leftist way to interpret literature, arts, and culture. So, the curriculum that had originally been designed to create superior gentlemen ended up spreading the cult of the radical.

Anonymous said...

Another reason could be the Marxization of aristocratism. Though we tend to think of bourgeois/aristocrats working together to keep down the masses--and though there was a good deal of that--, it's also true that the aristocratic class felt great resentment for having been usurped by the bourgeoisie, not least because upstart Jews were so prominent among the new elite class. Since aristocratism was a spent political/social force after WWI, the only way the aristocratic mind-set could regain authority was in the form of Marxism. Aristocratism and Marxism had one thing in common: the notion that society should be ruled by philosopher-kings whose sense of worth is not determined by the markets and material 'greed'. So, there may have been a merging of the elitist mind-set and the egalitarian principle. Intellectuals, even radical ones, have the philosopher-king mind-set. They want more power, respect, and authority, but often find themselves having less power than the 'greedy' and 'vulgar' business class. Also, they fear that the masses will be turned into consumer drones by modern capitalism. And so, radical elite intellectuals wanna win control over young people through ideological and cultural hegemony. And it just so happened that many European intellectuals were suspicious and even hostile against American and Americanized British culture(Beatles and Stones). Initially, guys like Jean-Luc Godard embraced American culture as a form of rebellion against conservative French culture. But as time passed, they feared that American consumer culture was the new imperialist force in the world(and American brand was made worse by the Vietnam War). Thus, continental European leftism became as much anti-American as anti-fascist--indeed, Americanism became the new 'fascism'. During WWII, Americans had saved Europe from fascism, and in a way, Europeans were grateful. But they were also simmering with resentment since it was embarrassing that such great old civilizations had to rely on gum-chewing coca-cola guzzling Americans to save the day. Europeans knew they had to be appreciative of America but were also looking for some moral excuse to rise up against Americanism. And it all came to the fore with America's involvement in Vietnam that made Americans the new Nazis. And American 'imperialism' in SE Asia was conflated with American 'cultural imperialism' all across Europe.

Anonymous said...

One of the areas where Europeans felt morally inferior to Americans pertained to 'social equality'. Americans were more equal than the Europeans. So, paradoxically, the ONLY way Europeans could prove that they were better than Americans was to push for even greater equality. Once that was achieved, they could turn the tables and accuse Americans of hypocrisy and inequality. And indeed, Europeans just love to point out how morally superior they are because their economies are more socialist and provide more generous benefits. Another vulnerable spot for Americans was racial discrimination. In the past, Americans used to lecture bad imperialist Europeans about how all cultures and peoples should be respected and treated the same. Wilson admonished the Europeans about it, and FDR and Truman--and then Eisenhower--actively pushed policies that dismantled European imperialism. So, Europeans were on the moral defensive. But once Europe lost all its empires, it finally turned the table on America. Europeans said Americans opposed European imperialism not because Americans were anti-imperialist but because they wanted to steal the empires for themselves. Thus, Pax Americana was really just a form of neo-imperialism. And who were Americans to preach to Europeans about equality when blacks in America faced all manner of social justice? And so Europeans decided to out-American the Americans by allowing massive immigration in the name of diversity and equality. They would show the Americans how social justice should really be done. And Europeans gave, on a per capita basis, more aid to Africa to prove that they CARE MORE than Americans do.

Anonymous said...

dearieme:"You shouldn't overlook the fact that if you study or work at Oxford etc, you do so in the lingua franca of the day. Being Heidelberg etc is rather like a University in the Middle Ages not teaching in Latin."

Good point. I've read studies that show the overwhelming importance of publishing in English to one's academic career.

Syon

Eugene said...

Tokyo University, Japan's best, is mostly famous for its grueling entrance exams. And not much else. On Japanese television dramas, you know a character is super-smart when someone says, "He attended Harvard."

But Japan's vast corporate and political bureaucracies don't care. They use the university matriculation system as a ruthlessly efficient sorting mechanism, fitting anybody who wants to be anybody onto a neat Gaussian curve.

Anonymous said...

Universities are, deep down, rightist institutions: elitist and conservative.

The idea that the American Ivies are "conservative" is hilariously stupid.

They are the ENGINES OF LEFTISM.

The reason Gottingen, Sorbonne, Padua, Salamanca etc. are less prestigious is not because they are less conservative than HYP but because they are more conservative. They are the followers of the crazy academic trends created at HYP.

Anonymous said...

Simon, can you name a Canadian university other than McGill, which is in Quebec and therefore not really in Canada?

Anonymous said...

Germany's decline in universities really began with losing WWI. The German military was already preparing to pour massive money into them once the war was over, which everyone assumed they would win. Once they lost however, and once Clemenceau imposed his " Carthaginian Peace " the money obviously was no longer there. The Rockefeller Foundation stepped in and funded a lot a math and science programs for a while in both Germany and France. However after a few years, they decided to stop funding math and science abroad and started giving their money to American universities.

They were followed by Bamberger, Eastman, Guggenheim, and Hearst family fortunes doing likewise but on a less grandiose scale. These big donations lead to certain universities getting the best talent, which lead to them being preeminent during the war which was then reinforced by Pentagon spending during the Cold War.
The Bamberger family financed the Institute for Advanced Study right outside of Princeton. George Eastman turned MIT into a science powerhouse to go with it's engineering prowess, and turned the U of Rochester into a smaller version of MIT. The Guggenheim family funded what became the Jet Propulsion Lab at Caltech, and the Hearst family sought to turn Berkeley into a West Coast version of Harvard or MIT. The Rockefeller family funded all the Ivy Leagues, plus MIT, Stanford, and the University of Chicago.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's funny how so many lefty professors at elitist universities couldn't give a fig about 'equality' and 'social justice' when it comes to admission grades - they make Donald Trump look distinctly egalitarian.
or their salaries, and the below min. wage they 'pay' their graduate assistants.

Alcove 1 said...

Steve: you might enjoy the statistics featured in this new NYT Mag article--about how the Bronx is dreadfully lagging the other boroughs (even Staten Island) in crucial SWPL metrics. I was suddenly reminded that CCNY is only a little over a mile away from the Columbia U campus--unfortunately it's 1 mile in the wrong direction...

Norville Rogers said...

Volksverhetzer: I think it is consistent with your impression that German institutions were originally more in the spirit of certificate-issuing authorities than Harry Potter/Eton Wall Game country clubs; this dates back to pre-Bismarck when there was no prestigious national campus, and mutually acceptable degrees were essential to commerce.

So even though they overlap in structure with other medieval universities & guilds the German ones were oriented toward sorting, sieving the input. However with a the strong overall academic culture (pro-intellectual, anti-professional) some input & output around late 19th Century could be quite good.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we ought to open our leading universities up in the same with the goal of knocking them down several pegs. The nation would be far better off - whatever advances in science that come from these unis doesn't offset their devastating cultural destructiveness, not by a million miles. Here's a reform idea for you, let's force these universities, starting with the ivies, to take in all non-science students who can afford the fee simply in the order they show up or mail in. We can use the same legal theories that force hotels and restaurants to take clients they may not want. Does anyone reading this think that destroying Harvard Law or Colombia Journalism would be anything but a blessing for this nation?

Anonymous said...

Tokyo University, Japan's best, is mostly famous for its grueling entrance exams. And not much else. On Japanese television dramas, you know a character is super-smart when someone says, "He attended Harvard."

But Japan's vast corporate and political bureaucracies don't care. They use the university matriculation system as a ruthlessly efficient sorting mechanism, fitting anybody who wants to be anybody onto a neat Gaussian curve.


"Young and Global Need Not Apply in Japan"

https://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/30/business/global/as-global-rivals-gain-ground-corporate-japan-clings-to-cautious-ways.html?pagewanted=all

"Notoriously insular, corporate Japan has long been wary of embracing Western-educated compatriots who return home."

"Japanese students who study overseas often find that by the time they enter the job hunt back home, they are far behind compatriots who have already contacted as many as 100 companies and received help from extensive alumni networks. And those who spend too long overseas find they are shut out by rigid age preferences for graduates no older than their mid-20s.

In a survey of 1,000 Japanese companies taken last June on their recruitment plans for the March 2012 fiscal year by the Tokyo-based recruitment company Disco, fewer than a quarter said they planned to hire Japanese applicants who had studied abroad. Even among top companies with more than a thousand employees, less than 40 percent said they wanted to hire Japanese with overseas education.

That attitude might help explain why, even as the number of Japanese enrolled in college has held steady at around three million in recent years, the number studying abroad has declined from a peak of nearly 83,000 in 2004 to fewer than 60,000 in 2009 — the most recent year for which the figures are available from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In some ways, the Japanese snubbing of Western graduates is a testament to the perceived strength of their own universities, seen by many here as more prestigious than even the best American and European schools — despite mediocre showings in various global college rankings."

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Airbus came out of nowhere to challenge Boeing."

AIRBUS hardly came out of nowhere:

Airbus Industrie was formally established as a Groupement d'Interet Économique (Economic Interest Group or GIE) on 18 December 1970.[14] It had been formed by a government initiative between France, Germany and the UK that originated in 1967. The name "Airbus" was taken from a non-proprietary term used by the airline industry in the 1960s to refer to a commercial aircraft of a certain size and range, for this term was acceptable to the French linguistically. Aérospatiale and Deutsche Airbus each took a 36.5% share of production work, Hawker Siddeley 20% and Fokker-VFW 7%.[11] Each company would deliver its sections as fully equipped, ready-to-fly items. In October 1971 the Spanish company CASA acquired a 4.2% share of Airbus Industrie, with Aérospatiale and Deutsche Airbus reducing their stakes to 47.9%.[11] In January 1979 British Aerospace, which had absorbed Hawker Siddeley in 1977, acquired a 20% share of Airbus Industrie.[16] The majority shareholders reduced their shares to 37.9%, while CASA retained its 4.2%.[17]

Syon

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Spain Golden Age that started in 1500 after the exodus of a certain group of people big on rent seeking and financial trading but not building ... hmmm … better not go there…)."

You might also want to factor in a little something called the Conquest of the New World....

Syon

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"The reason Gottingen, Sorbonne, Padua, Salamanca etc. are less prestigious is not because they are less conservative than HYP but because they are more conservative. They are the followers of the crazy academic trends created at HYP."

That seems a bit off, considering that the isms that have infected the American academy for the last 50 years are mostly continental in origin: Lacan, Derrida, Foucault, Althusser, Levi-Strauss, etc. HYP, like good colonials, have simply been been following their French masters..

Syon

Anonymous said...

This is wrong on several levels.

The quality of education, especially undergraduate education, has almost nothing to do with university rankings. It is only anecdotal, but I was an undergraduate student at a large Northern European university a few years ago. We had some exchange students from Ivy League US universities (much more highly ranked than ours), and they really struggled to keep up. I also knew exchange students who went to the US, and almost all of them remarked on how easy the course work there was.

What really matters for rankings is publishing in English-language academic journals. As someone else noted, having English as a native language helps with that. Moreover, at least in German-speaking Europe, the whole idea of publishing in journals as the foundation of doctoral studies is new. As recently as the turn of the century, doctoral students would essentially write a book (in German), which contributes absolutely nothing to rankings. Then they'd write another book to become a professor. The switch to publishing in journals has happened, but it's a new thing, like the focus on rankings, and it will take time to catch up with universities that have been doing these things for decades.

Top US universities do tend to be better for post-graduate studies. This is partly related to money, and the tradition of alumni support. First, research is expensive. Second, for post-graduate studies, it's crucial to attract academics who publish well, and richer universities have an easier time of doing this, since they can pay more. When you then have concentrations of people who publish well, it becomes easier to attract more top people, etc. Modern PhD programmes in the US are also more developed. The tradition in Europe has been 3-year doctoral programmes, compared with 5-year PhDs in the US. With the switch to 2-year masters degrees (from the old 5-year degrees, which were equivalent to a bachelor plus masters degree), there is a move to create essentially 5-year programmes that combine a two-year research masters programme with a 3-year doctoral programme. However, this is all new, and a result of recent academic standardisation across Europe. It will take time to bear fruit, but it will happen. That, plus academic mobility, was the whole point of the Bologna Process.

Ironically, US and UK academics I've met are almost always more left-wing and much more politically correct than the Continental European academics I know, although it does very by country. Maybe this is a reflection of my particular experiences, but the idea that European universities are ruled by raving left-wing lunatics and US universities by conservatives is, in my experience, the complete opposite of reality. It is the professors who did post-graduate studies in the US who tend to be most vociferous in promoting things like political correctness.

The one thing that I think is right is that universities with open admissions suffer compared with those that are allowed to be selective. However, it is absolutely not the case that European universities are, in general, open. Most Northern European universities at least are selective on the basis of academic performance, and that is how it should be. Tuition fees have absolutely no place in proper academic selection (only people with silly beliefs in Social Darwinism would think otherwise). Financial selection as in the US does help to make universities richer, which helps to fund research, but the same thing could be accomplished in Europe with higher public spending on the universities. This would avoid the problem of having to admit low-quality students who happen to have rich parents, in order to keep funding cycle going.

Steve Sailer said...

"What really matters for rankings is publishing in English-language academic journals."

And why does that really matter? See title of blog post: "Who won the Big One?"

Simon in London said...

anon:
"The quality of education, especially undergraduate education, has almost nothing to do with university rankings. It is only anecdotal, but I was an undergraduate student at a large Northern European university a few years ago. We had some exchange students from Ivy League US universities (much more highly ranked than ours), and they really struggled to keep up. I also knew exchange students who went to the US, and almost all of them remarked on how easy the course work there was."

The US student's 13 hour average work week (see eg http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2138176/Typical-U-S-college-student-spends-40-hours-week-socializing-just-13-hours-studying.html, but I first read it in Chronicle) seems very low by European standards, and our students are not exactly over-worked.

I get the impression that US postgrad students (Law, Medicine) work pretty hard, but most undergrads seem to do very little.

Edwan said...

"Does anyone reading this think that destroying Harvard Law or Colombia Journalism would be anything but a blessing for this nation?"

- Columbia journo going away- blessing, Harvard, not so much...
"Eight U.S. presidents have been graduates, and 75 Nobel Laureates have been student, faculty, or staff affiliates. Harvard is also the alma mater of sixty-two living billionaires, the most in the country."- Wikipedia

Get rid of the pure nonsense areas- journo, Xstudies, etc, keep the productive areas (even if they are a bit tedious)...

Anonymous said...

Well, good field that Germans still do good in is Classics a field where its hard to find employment unless you want to teach high schoolers Latin and Greek.

Anonymous said...

"Apparently Harvard faculty wanted to use the ENS model (testing) but the board of trustees demurred in deference to alumni/donors who didn't want their children competing with poor immigrants (i.e. Jews)."

So the people who paid for and built the school wanted their children to attend rather than someone else's children. How silly and racist of them...

Matthew said...

"What metric? By GDP(PPP) per capita, the US is ahead, except for Norway, but that's due to a disproportionate share of north sea oil money."

Well if you're excusing Norway's performance because of its natural resources, then you have to do the same for the U.S. The U.S. generates far more economic activity from natural resources, per capita, than just about any European country. Just think of Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota, Texas. Then there's agriculture, fisheries, etc.

If you shrank the U.S. to where it had the same population density as Germany or France we'd be a middling performer, economically. Or, you could import tens of millions of Latin-American peasants and eventually end up with a similar result.

Anonymous said...

Simon in london;"I get the impression that US postgrad students (Law, Medicine) work pretty hard, but most undergrads seem to do very little."

Well, this does seem to match my experience. I had a lot of free time during my undergrad years at Berkeley, but graduate school is something else! I'm lucky to have the time to wash clothes and cook food.

Syon

Anonymous said...

... Why are German colleges now so weak? They have yet to recover from expelling their Jews in 1933,

Yes.

and from the post-WWII emasculation of their traditional elitism in the name of egalitarianism. Entrance standards and tuition are kept low,

No tuition, just administrative fees. Tuition is unconstitutional.


Universities are, deep down, rightist institutions: elitist and conservative. Because the Continentals lost in the name of Fascism, there wasn't much resistance to the old-fashioned Marxist Left proletarianizing the grand old universities on the Continent in the post-War era.


This is wrong for Germany because you did not look at droup out rates (voluntary and non-voluntary). It is quite normal if 30% of the students don't pass a test. Also German universities use the whole grade scale (-> Grade inflation). German Profs are highly conservative.

The research budget is simply too small. Germany: 18 billion €. DoD: 35 billion € (http://comptroller.defense.gov/defbudget/fy2013/fy2013_r1.pdf, page 7)