Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it's not quite the way to get ahead in the global economy. It's not clear why Europeans keep wanting to build "the European version of x." Why not go out and build the next generation of what's needed, rather than simply trying to catch up? By the time they get anywhere near, the rest of the world will have moved on. There's already been plenty of talk about the plan out of France and Germany to build their very own Google called Quaero, but now the EU thinks it's simple to build its own version of MIT also. While the American primary school system is showing some problems when compared to European counterparts -- the American university system is still going strong. That isn't to say it doesn't have it's problems (does it ever) or that competition isn't strong (it certainly is), but so far, no one has yet been able to take the crown. Europe does already have some very strong universities, though -- and simply setting up yet another one and suddenly proclaiming it the MIT of Europe seems likely to fail. It's not just because making a great university takes a bit more than declaring some new university a great university, but because a great university doesn't want to be "the whatever of wherever." It wants to lead and stand out on its own right -- not by catching up and matching something else, but by creating the next generation university on its own terms.
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