America and Europe

Words: 1130
Topic: Education


The issue of education standard between America and Europe has drawn attention of many scholars and educators. According to Sean Scarpiello, the American education system portrays a negative result when compared to education systems of other countries across the world (Scarpiello 1). However, the US education system remains the best in relation to education systems across Europe and around the world.

This research looks at some similarities and differences between the European and American education systems.

The aim of education

In the US, education acts a tool for the public good. Therefore, both federal and state involvement in terms of funding is paramount. On the other hand, European higher education policy aims to promote social, political, and economic issues. At the same time, the education system addresses various industrial and market challenges. The governments provide minimal funding for students pursuing higher education.

A focus on the UK education system shows that the country offers practical elements of education. On the other hand, the US promotes liberal arts education. The US education system introduces students to broad aspects of the curriculum. Conversely, the UK education system is ideal for learners who have chosen their career paths. This approach enables learners to concentrate on their areas of specialisation throughout their study period. Learners can also conduct research in areas of their interests. However, the UK education system favours lectures, seminars, and tutorials. As such, learning is not interactive. However, learners must be proactive on their own. Choices of degrees are also diverse based on individuals’ interest.

Test Scores

The US education system has retained its superior quality for decades. In 1989, White and Ahrens compared two aspects of education systems (mass education and general education) between the US and Europe. They established that the US education system was superior to European education system (White and Ahrens 55). The US has maintained that standard to-date against Europe.

However, the major concern has been the deteriorating quality of education in the US. According to a study conducted by American Institutes of Research, students in other countries tend to do better in sciences and mathematics than students in the US (Dillon 1). The study presented mixed results across various European nations. Experts asserted that test results faced various challenges. As a result, such results did not provide an adequate basis for comparison of states or countries. This is because of different variations, such as different ages of learners in different grades. Therefore, such variations do not allow tests to act as tools for generalisation and effective conclusions across various states or nations.

Results from these studies show great disparities in the US education system. According to Kirsch and fellow researchers, the performance gap in the US between highest and low achiever is among the highest in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries (Kirsch et al. 3).

States vs other countries.
Figure 1: States vs. Other countries (scores in Math) (Source: American Institutes for Research, 2007)

Best Institutions

Based on the World University Rankings report of 2010/2011, the US has the most and world’s best institutions of higher learning. These institutions have produced the best professionals in various fields. It is also important to note that the best researchers work in these institutions. Educators in the US universities are able to provide quality education to students than in other universities across Europe. The ranking shows that the best universities are in the US and Europe (the UK).

Table 1: World University Rankings 2010-2011

Rank Institution Country / Region Overall score
1 Harvard University United States 96.1
2 California Institute of Technology United States 96.0
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States 95.6
4 Stanford University United States 94.3
5 Princeton University United States 94.2
6 University of Oxford United Kingdom 91.2
7 University of Cambridge United Kingdom 91.2

Source: (


Education in Europe is cost-effective compared to costs of education in the US. However, the low-cost of education has led to large classes in Europe. As result, instructors remain disconnected to their students. Cost is a key factor that influences the quality of education. It is important for education to be free or affordable for the majority.

However, such education systems lead to mass learning, which results into mass production of graduates. As a result, the quality of education among such graduates may be low. In the US, the best institutions restrict the number of years a student can take in schools. Therefore, learners complete faster in the US than in Europe. The US also has students’ loan policy. The loan is repayable after one finds employment.

Student-teacher relationship

Scarpiello observes that instructors in European universities do not have close interaction with their students (Scarpiello 1). The most common mode of teaching involves provisions of handouts, lectures, and examinations. He notes that lecturers do not provide adequate guidance to their students in Europe. On the other hand, in the US, student-teacher interaction is common even in large institutions of higher learning. Instructors have interaction time during classes, discussion sessions, and office hours. This enhances learning in the US and reduces cases of rot learning. Therefore, the US education system promotes practical learning beyond memorizing course contents.

European learning institutions also tend to lack clubs and social interaction venues. Universities are also in different locations across cities. There is no single main campus (Scarpiello 1). Conversely, the US has adopted education system that promotes learning from different sources rather than lectures alone. Besides, it has learning programmes to ensure that all children learn at the same pace. Thus, emphasis on social interaction is a fundamental part of the US education system.

Collaboration between the US and Europe in education

The US has the best universities and research centres in the world. Consequently, the UK and the US governments concur as follows “science and higher education are the foundation stones of their two nations’ 21st century economies and that the UK and the US have a responsibility to further their global leadership roles in these essential fields” (Office of the Vice President 1). The US is also the largest spend in areas of scientific research while the UK leads the G-8 countries in scientific publications.


America provides the best education system in the world. It offers higher education that caters for its diversity unlike in Europe where specialisation of education influences learners’ choices. Though the US education system has experienced challenges in the recent past, it remains the best system. This is evident from most people who prefer to pursue their higher education studies in the US rather than in their homes countries.

However, America must improve its education system because of stiff competition from other countries across Europe and Asia. Studies show that the US has the largest gap between low and best achievers in education.

Works Cited

Dillon, San. States’ Math and Science Scores With Other Countries’. 2007.

Kirsch, Irwin, Henry Braun, Kentaro Yamamoto and Andrew Sum. America’s perfect storm: Three forces changing our nation’s future. Policy Information. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Services, 2007. Print.

Office of the Vice President. Joint Fact Sheet: U.S.-UK Higher Education, Science, and Innovation Collaboration. 2011.

Scarpiello, Sean. United States vs. Europe: Higher Education. 2011.

White, Edward and Rudiger Ahrens. “European vs. American Higher Education: Two Issues and a Clear Winner.” Change 21.5 (1989): 52-55. Print.