Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Germany Does It Right

By Richard Vedder

Usually I complain a lot about Germany. They have screwed up their economy with a vastly excessive welfare state, for example. They have excessive taxes. They don't work hard enough.

But the Germans sometimes do something right, as I was reminded yesterday. While sitting on a cruise ship, I talked to a new friend, Chris, a German now working for an equity firm in Beijing. I asked this sharp young man where he went to college. In effect, he told me he did not attend a formal college, but underwent 4.5 years of rigorous training at a bank-run school (Deutsche Bank, I think). He earned the equivalent of a bachelors and masters degree, going to school in summer. The school now actually gives degrees.

A month or two ago, I wrote a blog commenting on a reader's prediction that in another generation, companies will run universities. That is starting to happen, particularly in Europe. Germany has had a long history with high quality vocational ed schools at the high school level, and now they are extending the concept to higher education. For those wanting a largely vocationally-enhancing post-secondary education, this is an appealing option. My friend Chris then went to work at the bank for some time, although finally left for a competitor. Offering low cost, high quality education in return for a few years of work for the company running the school seems to me an attractive option. Perhaps Citigroup, Bank of America and J.P Morgan Chase should be emulating the Germans.


sciencedoc said...

Deutsche Bank? I found this on the web. I guess Deutsche Bank is a little more enthusiastic about traditional higher education than Richard Vedder, huh?


Degree Compass
A guide on the way up
The Deutsche Bank Foundation launches an initiative to improve youths' chances of getting into university
In international comparison, Germany still has far too few college graduates. This has a major impact on Germany's companies, which increasingly complain about the shortage of qualified new hires.
To encourage young people whose parents did not go to college, in particular, and improve their career opportunities, the Deutsche Bank Foundation launched the Degree Compass together with the Accenture Foundation and the Foundation of German Business on 4 September 2007.

Chris said...

I agree fully. Let's turn higher education over to the American corporate segment. They have done such an absolutely sterling job running their own businesses (they undisputedly dominate the world economy) that higher education could only improve under their wise, far-sighted leadership.

After all, American higher education--unlike American business--is clearly the bottom feeder on the world's food chain. Other countries don't respect our universities and never send their best and brightest over to attend them. Let's get America's businessmen involved, so they can do to higher education what they've done to so many American industries and business segments.

freedomworks said...

Why this moronic sniping? No one is suggesting that all of American higher education be "turned over" to business firms. If, as seems to be the case, the model that Professor Vedder describes (which seems to be much like the way most American lawyers used to learn their calling -- through work in law firms rather than formal law school coursework) works, then it will take hold and grow. This is competition. There is no reason to object to it.