Nowadays Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRICs) are actively investing their resources into higher education institutions in an effort to create world-class university systems. Stanford scholars have carried out research as to whether these grads can compete in the global knowledge economy. One can get acquainted with the results in the book University Expansion in a Changing Global Economy: Triumph of the BRICS?, published by Stanford University Press.
The research analyzes the quality of institutions in the BRICs countries, the quantity of people getting degrees and equal access to education.
The study found that BRIC countries are investing huge amounts into their elite colleges in an effort to create world-class institutions so that their graduates would be compatible with those from the United States and Europe.
According to the authors, in the past 20 years, university systems in these big countries have exploded making US scientists very anxious at the possible implications of this on the market which is already overbrimming with numerous new scientists and researchers.
It is worth mentioning that BRIC undergraduate education increased from about 19 million students in 2000 to more than 40 million students in 2010 whereas the largest increase was in China - from less than 3 million to almost 12 million bachelor`s degree students during that period.
Researchers admit the elite colleges are becoming much better thanks to the focused investment, and the engineers and computer scientists are graduating with similar competency and training as those from developed countries.
But at the same time most of the students go to the mass institutions which are receiving much fewer resources. In 2009, 2.1 million of the 2.5 million total bachelor`s graduates in China graduated from mass institutions, not the elite ones. In India, it was 2.2 million of 2.3 million.
Unfortunately the scholars have come to the conclusion that this widening funding gap between top schools and mass institutions has broad implications like the potential to slow economic growth domestically, deepen income inequality and create less social mobility. This also implies that students who go to the mass institutions aren`t getting high quality, competitive educational experiences, and many of the students also suffer from getting stuck with big bills as funding assistance is directed toward the elite universities mainly.
However, the numbers of students graduating from elite institutions in computer science and engineering majors in BRICS countries is also high. In China, for example, the total number of computer science and engineering graduates from elite universities is more than the total number of such graduates from the United States.
Still, on th eother hand, it is those students who attend mass institutions that are "the engine of the new economies" of sustainable development of the country and the competitiveness of its innovations and research.
The researchers also mentioned that significant challenges remain for BRICS countries march while they are moving toward creating universities that can rank alongside those in the United States and Europe. For instance, the researchers maintain that India should increase its graduate education while Russia should increase research funding.
It should be mentioned that some of the BRICS scholars were also involved in the project.
All in all, the research comes to the conclusion that the prospect that the BRICS countries will develop their own centers of high-tech production and innovation and draw research, development and scholarship away from American shores, remains premature despite huge elite schools funding.
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