On 14 December Nicolas Sarkozy announced plans to set up 10 “centres of excellence” in French higher education, involving investment to the tune of €10bn, as part of a €35bn “big loan” from the state. “University of Sarkozy”, headlines Libération, explaining that the president is bent on spawning French campuses capable of holding their own with the likes of Harvard and Berkeley. The Parisian daily applauds the ambitious plan to fund these public/private partnership-based “centres of excellence”, touted as future wellsprings of “innovation and jobs”, but doubts that copying Silicon Valley-type models based on geographic concentration will work in France. “None of those hubs was built up from scratch by state decree,” Libération points out. The paper also objects to the “highly scientific, highly economic – in a word, highly utilitarian – cast” of the scheme, wishing the same zeal might be lavished on higher education in the social sciences, psychology, literature and history.
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