[...] To the developing world, the future looks bright. In China, and most other developing countries, going to university offers a route to a better future; in the West, we’ve lost our belief in self improvement and seem already resigned to a future of gentle, or even catastrophic decline.
For China, expansion of tertiary education forms a key part of the country’s development strategy. The number of graduate and undergraduate students in China has approximately quadrupled in recent years. In 1998, the total number of graduates from tertiary education was 0.8 million; in 2005, it was more than 3 million, a nearly threefold increase. The number of enrolments (of new and total students) has risen even faster and approximately quintupled between 1998 and 2005. Since then, the numbers have continued to rise at an almost exponential rate.
What’s more, the focus is strongly on the sciences. There are already substantially more Ph.D. engineers and scientists in China than in the United States, as China produces three times the number of engineers per year. You can argue about the quality of some of these graduates, but what China may lose in terms of the standard of qualification, it makes up for in quantity, and even on the standards it is catching up fast. Read more