Posted on 8th August 2012
Shift from West to East
There is always a great deal of change taking place in the world of higher education, and the latest shift is a drastic increase in the number of graduates from China and India.
It has been predicted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that by 2020, 40% of the world’s graduates will originate from just these two countries.
While there is likely to be a huge growth in the number of graduates from Asian countries, the percentage of graduates from the US, Russia and European Union look set to fall considerably.
This growth in students from the East has been accounted for by the changing ambitions of students, and many Chinese and Indian students are particularly keen to train in highly skilled fields in order to gain highly paid jobs. Many students are especially interested in technology and economics, which are really key subjects when it comes to financial growth.
China is a vast country with an enormous population and according to Sean Coughlan’s BBC report on the OECD’s predictions, “by 2020, China’s young graduate population will be about the same as the total US population between the ages of 25 and 64.”
A major concern about the rising number of graduates is whether there will be enough graduate-level jobs to go around. However, fortunately there is a correlation between the subjects that most students want to study and the professions that are expanding the most. If things continue as they are, there should be plenty of jobs related to science and technology to go around.
Despite the massive increase in students going into higher education in the East, the Western nations still dominate when it comes to the production and consumption of online information. The University of Oxford has an Internet Institute where academics track the way countries use the internet and how much information they generate for and on it. Professor Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, who works at the Internet Institute, told the BBC, ““In raw numbers of undergraduates and PhDs, the Asian economies are racing ahead. But what’s interesting is how the West persists in its positions of strength - because the West controls the institutions. There are more students in China than ever before - but they still use Western mechanisms to publish results.”
It will be interesting to see whether over time, Asian countries will start to take more control over the digital map, utilising their powerful numbers of highly skilled graduates. What is certain though, is that the world is becoming rapidly more populated with highly educated and skilled young people. Let’s hope that this knowledge is used positively!