Read an extract from an interview with Ľuboš Pástor, professor of finance at the University of Chicago, who was a guest speaker at the CEQLS lecture held by the Conservative Institute on December 17, 2007.
photo/pastor01.JPGQ: What in your opinion is the biggest problem of Slovak education, which causes more ambitious students to study abroad?
Quality. Universities in Slovakia are public. And if you want to have a public university model you have to invest much more money into it. You have to choose – either private universities where competition will gradually create quality or public universities – in this case quality requires the investment of a lot of state money to pay for high quality teachers and create good conditions for students.
Q: So you believe it is vital to invest in high quality teachers?
Yes. Studies have proven that the quality of teachers is the most important aspect that impacts the future success of students. That is one of the reasons that in international comparisons of primary and secondary schools countries like Finland, Hong Kong, Korea, and Singapore score the best. And why is this so? Do they have the best paid teachers? Not really. They get paid fairly well but they also have a certain social status. They are selected using difficult tests and society respects them. And the quality of the teachers is then reflected in the quality of their students. Colleges and universities have more problems but this is where I would start with especially as regards economics and related subjects.
Q: And what next?
As the next step I would allow the teachers not to be slaves of teaching. I would give them more space for research. And then they could teach their students not only what they read about but also about what they have given more thought to. But that also costs money. In order to create time for scientific research you need more people to teach the same number of students.
Q: If the financing issue was solved, do you see a potential for economic science in Slovakia?
I do, however only in a limited scope. In my opinion, specialization is inevitable in order to get a high quality education. The same way countries specialize in particular industries a specialization in the education area can also exist. For instance, London as a financial hub could have finance schools and Slovakia could provide engineering schools that would support the automotive industry. As that is where your comparative advantage is. Does Slovakia have a comparative advantage in economic education? I doubt it.
Translated by Tosca Cicuttova.
Extract from an interview published in the Slovakia`s leading economic weekly TREND.