Universities have not been a major focus of reflection in Europe for many years. Recently, however, they have become a subject of great concern for both the European Commission (EC) and national governments. The reason for this sudden interest is the understanding that, according to the EC, “the European university world is not trouble-free and that European universities are not competitive with those of major partners.” Considering that, at present, more than 10% of the postdocs from several European countries work in the US and that, in recent years, the majority of the Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, and medicine Fig. 1 have been awarded to scientists working in the US1, the uneasiness is certainly justified.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(04)00572-3