are just doing their work for the money—not because they like it. Imagine being able to unlock those human talents and strengths. In my view that’s what we need to do. In Europe we spend a lot of time discussing universities, but I think we need to reform the whole educational outlook, beginning with primary and secondary grades, in the same way.”


Dr. Wessner asked whether the panelists through that Germany would succeed in attracting more students and professors from abroad.

Dr. Muehlfeit agreed that Germany should think harder about “smart” immigration to attract European professors back. He cited Canada, where more than 40 percent of people have a university degree, as an example of a country doing an excellent job of smart immigration, and rising higher in innovation indexes. In EU universities, he said, only 2.6 percent of students were non-European students. “The mix of cultures and the drive for innovation are missing here—while more than 50 percent of students in the United States are non-Europeans.” Another data point he offered was that 80 percent of all software startups in Silicon Valley during the last 10 years were led by first- or second-generation Chinese or Indians.

Dr. Zimmermann returned to the topic of immigration policies, saying that in principal, anyone in the world with a university degree and a job offer could come to Germany to work. But he acknowledged that this situation might not be widely known, or believed. Whatever the reason, he said, “nobody is doing it; a few hundred are coming worldwide. So Germany has the standing of a fortress, a country that does not want to attract high-skilled labor.” Only people with lower skills come for work. To attract the others, he said, a perceptual problem must be overcome. “Really, there’s nothing to fear from high-skilled migrants, because they only increase efficiency and create innovations; they are also good for equality. It’s proven that the more high-skilled people come into the country, the more equal the society will become.” As a useful goal, he advocated a special passport for high-skilled migrants, and welcoming them. “We should leave it to the people themselves to decide where to work, and not to governments.”

Dr. Collier, the moderator, noted that competition for skill scientists, innovators, and educators might look very different in coming years. At the beginning of the 20th century, he pointed out, when someone said typewriter, they were probably talking about a job description—a human who typed. Irving Fisher, at beginning of his book, On the Making of Index Numbers, thanked his computer, and then named the man who was his computer. “Educator and innovator still have human faces,” he said, “but as we heard in the case of e-learning, ‘educator’ might soon become an electronic machine. Perhaps the innovator will still have a human face.”

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement