What a carve up: re­think ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Europe

THE (Times Higher Education) - - LETTERS -

I read with in­ter­est “The best uni­ver­si­ties in New Europe” rank­ing (News, 25 April).

I was par­tic­u­larly glad that some Hun­gar­ian uni­ver­si­ties ranked in re­mark­ably high po­si­tions. While un­der­stand­ing the need to dif­fer­en­ti­ate uni­ver­si­ties in cen­tral and east­ern Europe because of eco­nomic and his­tor­i­cal rea­sons, in most cases re­lated to the ar­ti­fi­cial di­vi­sion of Europe dur­ing the Cold War, al­low me to share a few re­marks con­cern­ing the no­tion of “New Europe”.

First, “New Europe” im­plies the ex­is­tence of “Old Europe”, im­plic­itly mean­ing the old mem­ber states of the Euro­pean Union, fol­low­ing the logic of your rank­ing. How­ever, the EU de­vel­oped and grew over decades, with four en­large­ments (1973, 1981, 1986 and 1995) pre­ced­ing the “big bang” en­large­ment of 2004.

So I found it rather ar­ti­fi­cial to put Swe­den, for ex­am­ple, which joined the EU in 1995, into “Old Europe” and the Czech Repub­lic, which joined the EU in 2004, less than a decade later, into “New Europe”.

Sec­ond, “Old” and “New” Europe may add up to the 28 mem­ber states of the EU, but the EU by no means equals Europe. This fact is of­ten for­got­ten, although it is ob­vi­ous that countries such as Nor­way, Switzer­land and Ser­bia, and in the fore­see­able fu­ture the UK, do be­long to Europe, with­out be­ing mem­bers of the union.

Third, some renowned uni­ver­si­ties in “New Europe”, such as Charles Univer­sity in Prague (1348) and the Jagiel­lonian Univer­sity in Krakow (1364), were founded in the same pe­riod as, if not be­fore, sev­eral in­sti­tu­tions in “Old Europe”. Equally im­por­tant is that the King­dom of Bo­hemia (also known as the Czech King­dom), the King­dom of Poland and the King­dom of Hun­gary were es­tab­lished cen­turies be­fore sev­eral of the mod­ern states of so-called Old Europe, tak­ing Italy, Ger­many, Belgium, the Repub­lic of Ire­land and Fin­land into ac­count. Again, the di­vi­sion of Old and New Europe looks quite ar­bi­trary.

I ap­pre­ci­ate THE’s ef­forts to make a sep­a­rate, in many cases more favourable, rank­ing for the se­lected cen­tral and east­ern Euro­pean countries, and I also ac­knowl­edge that the stand­first “Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion rank­ing re­veals top uni­ver­si­ties from across the 13 lat­est Euro­pean Union mem­ber states” is more pre­cise than the eye-catch­ing idea of “New Europe”. Nev­er­the­less, the us­age of “New Europe” ought to be re­con­sid­ered.

Gyula Sümeghy

For­mer Hun­gar­ian am­bas­sador to The Hague

It is ob­vi­ous that countries such as Nor­way, Switzer­land and Ser­bia do be­long to Europe

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.