The ‘Macron Initiative’ refers to a Call for Proposals by the European Commission for ‘European Universities’ the form the core of a new supranational European Higher Education system. Rumour has it that Maastricht University is preparing a proposal with some other young research universities in Europe.
A good friend and colleague of mine made an interesting connection between this rumour and the discussion in the Netherlands about the pros and cons of the increasing number of EU students in Dutch universities.
Politicians and students are telling themselves, each other and the public that Dutch universities should stop recruiting these EU students – because they say it is against Dutch interest. This is funny because there is hard evidence that the Dutch economy and the Dutch taxpayer profit significantly from these EU students.
Even funnier, the Dutch universities want these students – Maastricht would have to close without their German students – even though increasing numbers of EU students simply mean decreasing amounts of funding per student (which actually explains the position of the Dutch students).
Dutch government could easily resolve the dilemma for the universities by simply not counting the EU students when they divide the fixed budget for university education among the universities. That would be an immediate disincentive to recruit more EU students.
But an even more exciting solution would be for Maastricht to win its bid for a European University, be lifted out of the Dutch university system and transferred to the newly designed European system – with the proportion of the Dutch HE budget commensurate to the proportion of Dutch students in Maastricht.