Wednesday, April 30, 2008

China's great leap forward in higher education

If you've watched the Did You Know 2.0 video from Shift Happens, you know the world is changing in ways that will have a dramatic effect on communication. Here's more evidence of that, and of some of the challenges the U.S. faces, from this BBC story:

  • China is now the largest higher education system in the world: it awards more university degrees than the US and India combined.

Of course, this is partly a matter of the sheer size of its population. But it is not just that. The rate of university expansion has been beyond anything anyone in the West can easily imagine.

University enrolments in China have reportedly risen from under 10% of young people in 1999 to over 21% in 2006, a phenomenally fast expansion.

  • As recently as 1996, China produced just 5,000 PhD students a year. That was only about half the number in the UK, Japan or India. Since then, China has overtaken every other country in the world except the US in terms of the numbers of doctoral degrees awarded.
How will this affect all of us? No, it's probably not going to lead to a global communist takeover, brought to you by Coca-Cola. But as our position as the world 's higher education superpower is eroded, we certainly could see major changes in how we communicate, and how we do business, in today's global economy.

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