Think US Higher Ed has Problems? Check Out China

From the Financial Times, highlighting that quantity does not equal quality when it comes to education:

“Both bulls and bears like to compare Japan in the 1960s and China in 2010. Bulls say the comparison offers China a well-trodden path to a modern, high-tech economic future. Bears point to Japan’s asset bubbles in the 1980s, the subsequent crash, and the lost decade that followed.”

“Today a note by MF Global’s Nicholas Smith – provocatively entitled ‘The Sweatshop that Roared’ – came out on the side of the bears, warning that 1960s Japan was in much better shape than today’s China, principally because of one thing: education.”

“While policymakers in the western world fret about the many millions of graduates being churned out of China’s universities every year, Smith points not to the number, but to the quality of those graduates. Take engineers:”

The educational system produces far too few properly trained engineers. McKinsey did a study of China’s looming talent shortage in a 2005 report, interviewing 83 HR professionals involved in hiring in low-wage countries: it concluded that only 10% of China’s graduate job candidates are suitable for employment by multinationals. Small wonder foreign companies in China complain of a talent shortage.

I lived and studied in Japan for a bit and focused on Japan during my undergraduate years at Michigan. Like the United States, the Japanese imported a Prussian/German model of education during the Meiji restoration.

It has been said that China is trying to model their education on the U.S. The American system of higher education has evolved piecemeal, with little central planning from the Federal Government. And btw, it has had periods where it provided little of value to the country (though that hasn’t been the case for almost 100 years).

To my understanding, most of the growth in higher education in China has been following government policy in China, and the government determining which schools will be world class. Is that why McKinsey has found the results quoted above? Any thoughts on Chinese higher education.

Education: the thorn in China’s upside | beyondbrics | FT.com.

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