Will Asia Surpass Western Universities In Higher Education?

By the end of this decade, four out of every 10 of the world’s young graduates are going to come from just two countries – China and India. The projection from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows a far-reaching shift in the balance of graduate numbers, with the rising Asian economies accelerating ahead of the United States and western Europe.

The forecasts for the shape of the “global talent pool” in 2020 show China as rapidly expanding its graduate numbers – set to account for 29% of the world’s graduates aged between 25 and 34. The biggest faller is going to be the United States – down to 11% – and for the first time pushed into third place, behind India.

Their rise in graduate numbers reflects their changing ambitions – wanting to compete against advanced economies for high-skill, high-income employment. Instead of offering low-cost manufacture, they are targeting the hi-tech professional jobs that have become the preserve of the Westernised middle classes.


This push for more graduates has a clear economic purpose, says the OECD’s analysis. Shifting from “mass production to knowledge economy occupations” means improved employment rates and earnings – so there are “strong incentives” for countries to expand higher education. But will there be enough graduate jobs to go round?

The OECD has tried to analyse this by looking at one aspect of the jobs market – science and technology-related occupations. These jobs have grown rapidly – and the report suggests it is an example of how expanding higher education can generate new types of employment. These science and technology jobs – for professionals and technicians – account for about four in every 10 jobs in some Scandinavian and northern European countries, the OECD suggests. The OECD concludes that there are substantial economic benefits from investing in higher education – creating new jobs for the better-educated as unskilled manufacturing jobs disappear.

How important for you is higher education? Do you think Asian countries will indeed surpass the West in terms of higher education?

Source: BBC News

Image: Business Insider