Thursday, September 08, 2011

A Thought About Higher Education

I quote from the Economist:
The supply of university graduates is increasing rapidly. The Chronicle of Higher Education calculates that between 1990 and 2007 the number of students going to university increased by 22% in North America, 74% in Europe, 144% in Latin America and 203% in Asia. In 2007 150m people attended university around the world, including 70m in Asia. Emerging economies—especially China—are pouring resources into building universities that can compete with the elite of America and Europe. They are also producing professional-services firms such as Tata Consulting Services and Infosys that take fresh graduates and turn them into world-class computer programmers and consultants. The best and the brightest of the rich world must increasingly compete with the best and the brightest from poorer countries who are willing to work harder for less money.
The article suggests that, as a result of the increasing competition of educated people, the economic advantages of college graduates over those who don't have higher education may well be reduced. They do not suggest that the uneducated will be better paid than the educated in the future.

I would agree that we should emulate the Germans and educate more people for skilled, non-tradable sector jobs. My Godfather was a maker of artificial limbs, prototypical of a skilled craft job that has to be done where the person to be fitted is to be found.

I think another hypothesis is that we should use policy instruments to improve the quality of our educational system and we ought to use policy instruments to direct students into college programs that will help them and the country to be competitive in the international economy.

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