Monday, August 15, 2005

An aside on US higher education and global competitiveness

Although I should be writing about digital media, I thought I would make a short aside -- an op/ed -- on a recent article I read in the Boston Globe about the state of US higher education. Many articles over the last few years (at least) have commented on this topic in some form or fashion. The underlying theme is that as manufacturing and now many professional services move out of the US, the US faces a competitive dilemma -- how to increase the number of math and science higher education graduates. Even Larry Ellison commented on this recently -- its a hot topic.

The US, for many years, enjoyed a brain drain advantage -- it pulled the brightest and smartest from all over the world. Typically the students came to the US and then stayed and worked in the US. But now, due to global geo-political situation and the rise of India and China as economic powers, many bright and prospective students are going to other countries, such as European nations and Australia. The international education marketplace is growing and competition is increasing. On a global scale, this should help increase the quality and price offerings of education everywhere. However on a local level, US students are not going into math and engineering. Instead the students focus on liberal arts -- the gap of science was made up by international students, but if the international students go elsewhere then the US will have a shortage of qualified graduates...

Globalization and economic sourcing is good for the world economy. If the US wants to compete in the future, it needs to take advantage of its financial, infrastructure, entrepreneurial culture and higher education strengths. Education is key to making a flexible labor market, which is adaptable to a changing world. The US should embrace the new competitive education market by pushing the domestic population toward higher education (especially math, science, engineering, finance, business, etc.) and drawing students from around the world. Lower the barriers for entry for foreign students and increase competitiveness and the US education system and its labor market will improve.

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