US: Continental perspectives

College presidents were urged last Tuesday to consider why most Americans think of North America as a geographic entity and not much more, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed. The failure of American academics to embrace a common agenda for cooperation of colleges and universities in Canada, Mexico and the US may be preventing those countries' higher education systems from realising some of the gains European universities are experiencing through the 'Bologna process', said several experts at the annual meeting of the American Council on Education, held in Phoenix.

As the mostly American higher education leaders were finishing their discussions, the European University Association was releasing a major analysis of just how much the Bologna process - under which European nations agreed to 'harmonise' their higher education systems with common degree times and expectations - has transformed higher education. The vast majority of programmes have in fact been changed to comply with the Bologna standards, the report finds.

Robert A. Pastor, co-director of the Center for North American Studies at American University, said that the North American Free Trade Agreement should have led to much more cooperation between colleges in the three countries of North America. But NAFTA has become "a veritable piñata for pundits and politicians", even though it has in fact increased trade in all directions in the continent.
Full report on the Inside Higher Ed site